Ready for a fundraising blitz? When you need money raised for a specific cause, a capital campaign is the way to go.
Capital campaigns raise funds for a specific purpose within a set period of time. You won't use the money raised to cover standard operational costs. Instead, capital campaigns are used for a one-time project with a specific fundraising goal and timeline attached.
Capital campaigns can raise a lot of funds in a race-against-the-clock timetable. You need to define your message early, set your campaign goal and timeline, and have the right fundraising tools to make your campaign a success. Below, we show you how to do just that.
Why would you need a capital campaign?
Capital campaigns are intense fundraising efforts that can be conducted by virtually any organization, including schools, sports teams, nonprofit organizations, and clubs. These campaigns often have to do with the improvement, expansion, or acquisition of physical assets.
Capital campaigns raise money for an asset reflected on your end-of-year balance sheet.
If you're purchasing or repairing a building, vehicle, or pieces of machinery or furniture, this requires a capital campaign. Here are some examples:
- Your local fire department needs to purchase a new truck.
- Your hometown was hit by a tornado, and you need to raise funds to replace fallen power lines.
- Your local hospital needs a new children's wing.
- A local restaurant was damaged by a flood and needs repairs to resume service.
- Your local elementary school is adding on a new building for pre-K students.
- Your high school track and cross-country teams want to resurface their all-weather track.
- A local church was hit by a thunderstorm and needs to have their steeple replaced.
- A Meals on Wheels organization needs to purchase a new van to deliver meals to those in need.
- Your middle school needs to purchase new computers for the students.
7 step-by-step strategies to make your capital campaign a success
Since a capital campaign timeline offers little to no wiggle room, the planning process is critical to your campaign's success. The bulk of your workload takes place in the initial stages — before a public campaign announcement even takes place.
Implement these fundraising strategies to kick off a successful capital campaign:
1. Gather your team
Before any decisions are made, assemble your planning committee.
Your campaign’s success rests on the shoulders of your campaign chair, board members, staff members, and volunteers.
Gather stakeholders early to set a clear goal, build a list of major donors, set deadlines, and delegate tasks. Your team will develop a case for support, explaining why your campaign is necessary and how it benefits the community.
To invite stakeholders to take part in the planning phase, send automated outbound emails to the group. With your team in place, assign different roles and permissions to determine which users can access funds, edit group details, or edit your donation page.
2. Create a feasibility study
Think of a feasibility study as a focus group for your campaign. It assesses whether the projected dollar amount and timeline are reasonable to hit your target.
A capital campaign consultant may suggest sending your feasibility study (often in the form of a survey) to community members. This gauges how your campaign will be received, who is most willing to support your efforts (aka prospect research), and where you should allocate resources.
To implement a feasibility study, use the Givebutter and SurveyMonkey integration on Zapier. When your campaign is created on Givebutter (called a “trigger”), SurveyMonkey will automatically send your survey (an “action”) to potential donors.
3. Finalize your deadline and fundraising goal
A set goal and timeline separates a capital campaign from a regular fundraiser. Finalize these figures by setting a budget, creating a list of fundraising costs, and accounting for any hiccups or setbacks in your campaign timeline (estimates say you should budget 20 cents of expenses per dollar raised).
Once you account for these items, publicize your goal and timeline to the broader community.
To ensure your campaign sticks to your budget (and hits your goal), integrate Givebutter with your accounting software, such as Xero, Sage Intacct, or QuickBooks. Rally donors to hit your target by defining your campaign goal on your donation page. Finally, create a sense of urgency by creating a timeline with a set end date.
4. Target major gift donors
The vast majority of solicitations take place during the "quiet phase" of your campaign. During this phase, reach out to major donors, making a case statement for your campaign. Develop a gift range chart for major donations, and calculate how many major gifts are required to hit your target.
To reach out to major donors, you’ll want to use one-to-one communication channels, such as direct mail, a personal phone call, or an email message. This is where storing supporter information in a CRM system will come in handy. You can keep tabs on past supporters, previous gifts, contact information, and personal notes — making it easier to reach out to major donors.
5. Create marketing assets
Now, the fun begins. Have your team develop creative assets for your campaign, whether that's brochures, videos, email templates, or social media graphics.
These materials will be used during the public phase of your campaign, rallying the public to hit your capital campaign goal. Develop a gorgeous, enticing campaign that excites your supporters, customizing the look and feel of your donation page with the same branding as other marketing materials. Add GIFs, drawings, images, and videos to your page to create a thrilling launch.
6. Get the word out
The team is ready, major gifts are made, and marketing materials are published. Now, it's time to get the word out.
While direct mail, cold calling, or other one-to-one initiatives may be useful to reach major gift donors, take advantage of one-to-many communication channels to reach a broader base. One-click social sharing allows supporters to easily share your campaign across their respective networks. Implement peer-to-peer fundraising to add teams and leaderboards, igniting some friendly competition in your campaign.
7. Keep the momentum going
Within your capital campaign plan, devise a strategy to rally community members until you hit your target. How will you encourage donations once the excitement of the initial campaign kickoff wears off?
Engage with donors across your supporter feed, creating a meaningful connection with your community. Set up automatically generated emails and text message reminders to encourage donations, even after your initial launch. Finally, include a custom message within your automated receipts, asking supporters to share with friends and family members.
Successful capital campaign fundraising depends on the right tools
Ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work? As a capital campaign best practice, the bulk of your work takes place early in the process. Gather your team, set timelines and budgets, and create a major donor list. Finally, develop gorgeous marketing assets and get the word out quickly to your community.
To launch a successful campaign, you need the right tools at your fingertips. With over 70+ features available, Givebutter enables you to hit your campaign target. To get started with capital campaign planning, launch your free Givebutter account today.
Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.