Capital Campaign Definition: What is a Capital Campaign?

Last updated: August 6, 2020

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Over the years, iWave has worked with leading nonprofit organizations to help them achieve their fundraising goals. One strategy that our clients often use is launching a capital campaign.

If you’re wondering if this is the right strategy to help achieve your mission, consider the following aspects of a capital campaign. We’ll break down exactly what goes into this type of fundraising and how you can ensure it goes smoothly. Let us show you how!

Check out our Capital Campaign Guide

The Definition of a Capital Campaign

A capital campaign is a fundraising strategy that’s particularly useful in achieving long-term goals. This type of campaign is also known as a brick-and-mortar campaign, because it’s traditionally used to erect buildings or add on a new wing to an already existing structure. At times, capital campaigns are also used to buy necessary equipment or to purchase land.

The overall goal of a capital campaign is to raise money while on a strict timeframe. For example, if you’re looking to construct a new library for your school by the fall semester, this is the right type of fundraising for your educational organization.

Capital campaigns are unique from other forms of fundraising in that they consist of two main phases: private (quiet) and public. In the private phase, you’ll be reaching out to potential donors with major gift asks to receive the majority of the funding needed to complete your project. Then, in the public phase, you’ll complete your fundraising from a larger audience.

When Should You Start a Capital Campaign?

Capital campaigns are a great way to achieve goals that will propel your organization forward and enhance growth. There are three times when utilizing this type of campaign would be most useful to your organization:

1. When you’re in need of new resources

Has your university grown its science program requiring new lab equipment? Does your hospital need to purchase the latest tech for surgeries? Either way, a capital campaign may be the best way to accomplish these goals!

2. When you’ve outgrown your space

As your after-school program continues to expand to more communities in need, you may realize you can no longer rent your space and need to purchase your own recreational center. With a capital campaign, you’ll be able to set a strict timeframe and jumpstart your fundraising efforts to meet that goal.

3. You want to expand your legacy

A physical building is a great way to leave a mark on your community for years to come. A new rehabilitation center at the hospice you work at will continue to assist those in need even if you were to retire from your organization. Capital campaigns can help you build permanent structures that your community will be able to benefit from well into the future.

How to Organize Your Campaign

Since you have a strict timeframe in which your building needs to be constructed or your equipment needs to be purchased, nothing is more important than staying organized during your capital campaign. There are some great ways to accomplish your goals, and it all starts with the right team and strong organizational skills.

Assemble a Team

Whether you’re a grassroots organization or a thriving university, you know the importance of working together as a team. Before you get started with your capital campaign, make sure you’re taking the time to locate the best team members for your mission.

Some positions you’ll need to fill include a planning committee and board members. Make sure you’re choosing people whose beliefs strongly align with the cause and who have the right skills to keep your project on track. In addition to paid staff members, you may also bring on volunteers eager to help throughout the capital campaign process.

The different team members you might want to recruit include:

  • Capital Campaign Consultant: If resources allow, you may want the added support of a nonprofit fundraising consultant. To identify the best person to assist your organization, you can compare proposals from multiple firms.
  • Campaign Chair: This person will be the primary face of your organization’s capital campaign. They will be the point person who keeps other team members on track.
  • Leadership: Those already in leadership positions at your organization will play an important role in decision making, big-picture project ideas, and daily planning throughout your capital campaign.
  • Staff from Various Departments: Unifying your organization around your capital campaign will better ensure its success. By involving people from all levels of your organization, you’ll encourage collaboration and innovation.
  • Active Volunteers: People who have already demonstrated interest in your organization and passion for your mission will bring energy, enthusiasm, and dedication to your project. They can invite other community members to join in and will spread the word.

Another way to break up your team is with committees. One group might focus on the planning stages of your capital campaign, while the other might focus on continuing the momentum and keeping the project on course.

Establish a Firm Timeline

Not only do you need to establish a strict end date, you and your teams will also need to set up smaller fundraising goals along the way. Since there is a private and public phase during a capital campaign, it’s important you’re setting goals for what donations you need to reach during that time.

Your team should all be receiving consistent updates on goals to stay on track. Also, reach out to your community and let them know the progress you’ve made, so they stay engaged and interested in your mission.

Check out these tips to plan a successful capital campaign

The Phases of a Capital Campaign

There are five phases to a capital campaign, and it’s important you follow each one to ensure success in your fundraising.

  • Planning

As mentioned before, there’s a lot of pre-planning that needs to happen before you launch your capital campaign. This is the stage where you’ll assemble your team and create a timeline and goals. During the planning phase you also want to perform wealth screenings.
Wealth screenings are designed to show you who is most likely to support your campaign based on ability to give as well as history of charitable giving.

  • Private Fundraising

Typically, you want more than half of your donations to come from the private phase. Therefore, it’s crucial you’re reaching out to the right people to get the funds your mission needs. During this time, you’ll utilize your wealth screening data to contact potential donors and ask for major gifts.

Make this stage as engaging as possible. When people feel like they are receiving something in return, they are more likely to give. Consider setting up naming rights to various aspects of your building from benches outside of the structure to the name of the building itself. Other ways to engage private donors include:

  1. Displaying a plaque inside the building or on the grounds to honor their contribution.
  2. Making a website post about them with details about their story and donation.
  3. Offering them an exclusive tour of the new facility once construction is complete.
  • Kick Off

After you end the quiet portion of fundraising, you’re ready to open up to the public! Make sure you have a website detailing the clear mission, goals, and progress of your organization so donors can learn why they should support you. Your social media should also have this information to reach a wider audience.

  • Public Fundraising

To close out fundraising, open up to the public. This stage is just to “fill in any gaps” in your fundraising. Raise as much as possible in the initial private phase to ensure the public portion goes smoothly.

Again, make fundraising exciting by hosting events or holding auctions. The best part is everything can be done online, such as a virtual silent auction, meaning you’ll be able to reach potential donors from around the world. There are lots of ways to engage the public from near and far, such as:

  1. Raffles: Create prizes that will excite your prospective donors from the community. Using a random number generator is an easy way to pick a winner. Then, you can stream the finale on your website and social media platforms.
  2. Fun Run or Walk: Whether you design a course or leave it up to the participants, this gets people active. There are free tracking apps with social media components, such as Strava, that allow people to connect and motivate each other while they run.
  3. Classes: Ask members of your organization to create videos or hold live streams in which they teach the public a specific skill. For example, someone could cook a healthy meal and another person could teach how to play a song on the guitar.
  4. Concert or Play: Putting together a virtual concert or performance invites donors to enjoy an event from the comfort of their living room couch. Reach out to local musicians or actors who may consider contributing their talents.
  • Wrap Up and Assessment

The final step in your capital campaign journey is to close out fundraising and take time to reflect. Ask your team what they learned, what went right, and how they can use what they learned to create more successful fundraising in the future.

During this time, you’ll also want to take special care to acknowledge and thank your volunteers. To ensure ongoing interest and future involvement, acknowledge (and in a sense “nurture”) those who have been consistently devoted to furthering your mission.

Then, take some time to celebrate and enjoy the fruits of your hard labor!

Related: Get the Capital Campaign Cheat Sheet

How Can our Fundraising Software assist with your Capital Campaign?

As you can see, the most crucial part of a capital campaign is the private portion of fundraising. iWave’s software is here to provide you with the tools for your capital campaign.

Our software scans billions of data-points to uncover the right donors and donations for your cause. Not only will we break down who has the ability to give, but we’ll also show you who has a history of contributing to like-minded causes making them more likely to support your campaign as well.

Our fundraising platform can also show you how much to ask for, ensuring no money is left on the table and that you’ll have a more successful quiet phase. Contact us today to learn more with a free demo!

Written by Admin

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