The fact of the matter is, as M. Jane Williams wrote in her book "Big Gifts," too many nonprofit managers view capital campaigns not as a compliment to their fundraising, but as the answer to all of their problems. As a result, they tend to rush into them before they have a clear idea of what they want to do. Capital campaigns can be a big boost to an organization, but only when they are done correctly.
Williams went on to explain that only nonprofits that already have well-run development programs and a successful track record of major gifts should attempt capital campaigns; but that's only one aspect that will test an organization's readiness. Williams listed these 10 other questions that you must answer “yes” to before beginning:
- Does your organization really know itself and its aims?
- Is there a history of philanthropic support for the organization?
- Is your organization seen as a positive and necessary asset to its community or constituency?
- Is there agreement among board members and staff that the cause is worthwhile?
- Will they give time and funds to the effort?
- Is your case for support valid and salable?
- Do you have the leadership to make the campaign work?
- Do you have an active prospect cultivation program?
- Can you identify at least 50 to 100 prospects in a substantial gift range and a loyal giving constituency below that level?
- Can you obtain one gift that is at least one-tenth of the total campaign goal?
- Do you know who the campaign chairman should be? Will he or she accept this role?