Friday, September 21, 2012

Are You Ready For A Capital Campaign?

Pop quiz: What do you think is the most common error nonprofits make during capital campaigns? If you answered "not being prepared enough" then, congratulations, you are absolutely correct.

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?

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