Capital Campaigns

Have you considered a capital campaign to raise major funds? Your pregnancy center is growing and exciting things are ahead for your center and the people you serve. With growth comes opportunities to make an impact as well as a need for greater donor support. 


A capital campaign is a focused effort to raise significant dollars in a specified period of time. Often the money raised in a capital campaign is to fund the purchase or renovation of a building, but the campaign’s focus can also include building an endowment for the future.


When implemented correctly, capital campaigns can be a highly effective fundraising tactic in addition to your regular fundraising strategy. Whether it’s your first time or you’ve been running them for years, in this guide we’ll cover all the basics so you can feel confident running your own capital campaign. 


What is a capital campaign?


A capital campaign is an intense effort on the part of an organization to raise significant dollars in a specific, shorter window of time. Some examples of projects pregnancy centers have used capital campaigns to raise money for include:


  • Funding for a new building
  • Building renovations
  • Going medical
  • Purchasing a mobile medical unit


How to run a successful capital campaign


One of the best things you can do for your capital campaign success, especially if you have a small staff, is to hire a consultant. They can be a life saver so you aren’t adding a new full time job to your already crowded plate. Consultants bring a lot of strengths to the process, assisting with campaign oversight, direction, and ownership. In addition, they have the experience and ability to speak into all aspects of your campaign. Whether or not you choose to work with a consultant, here are the steps you should take to execute a successful capital campaign.


Planning Phase

  1. Determine the project. The first step is to determine what the money will be raised for. You likely already know this if you’re considering a capital campaign. Make sure you think through all aspects of the project so you can determine the correct amount of money you will need for it. Will it require new personnel? New equipment? Realtor fees? Moving costs? Architects? Sit down and map out all details and parts of the project before you begin so you aren’t surprised by any last minute additions or anything else.


  1. Include your Development department. If you have a Development department, make sure you include them in this phase. If you don’t, you will want to consider pulling together a task force that will be responsible for this campaign. Consult your board, experienced staff members, and other experts to determine what costs will be involved and how much you need to raise.


  1. Conduct prospect research. This will help you determine people who can donate larger amounts to this campaign to help guarantee its success. Part of your research should include identifying which of your existing donors you could ask to fund various parts of the campaign. You should factor in 3 prospects for every larger gift needed, as well as identify new markets of people you could approach to support your campaign.


  1. Perform a feasibility study. During this phase of your planning, you should plan to interview 20-40 people in your community and on your board to determine their willingness and excitement to participate in your campaign. Let them know what your goal is, what giving levels you’ve identified that you’ll need, and fill them in on any fundraising events you’re planning to hold as part of your campaign.


  1. Decide on a leadership team. It is critical to the success of the campaign that the committee be leaders from the community. The chairperson of it will be the one to make the lead gift for the campaign which is typically 10% of the overall goal. The role of this committee isn’t to meet and manage the campaign, rather their role is to help secure some of the larger gifts. They will mainly be going to their friends and colleagues on behalf of the campaign, while your board and staff will manage the day-to-day activities of the campaign. The success of your campaign is based on whether or not you assemble the right committee members.


  1. Create a communications plan. This is where you’ll determine how you communicate about your campaign, the appropriate marketing channels and tactics to use, and what key messages you want people to remember about why you’re raising money. Your strategy should include both digital and non-digital components, utilizing email, website, social media, direct mail, and phone calls. You’ll want to make sure you have a special campaign-specific page on your website so people know exactly where to go to both give and learn more about your capital campaign.


Now that you’re through the planning phase, it’s time to enter the next part of your capital campaign: The quiet phase.


Quiet Phase

The quiet phase is where you’ll aim to raise 50%-70% of your funds needed. This is for when you go public and can show momentum and excitement for the campaign to encourage other people to join. Here are some assets and tools you’ll find helpful for this phase:


  1. Create a case statement. The legwork of planning has been done and you’re ready to approach people about giving to your campaign. You’ll want a high-quality, professionally designed case statement piece to help you accomplish this task. Make sure you include a rendering of the building or unit, a budget of the costs and needed funds, and a story of a life impacted by your work. Include quotations from supporters about why they give, a campaign slogan if you have one, and additional impact statements about why people should give. Finally, make sure you include a gift table that shows the level of gifts needed and how many of each, so people can identify how they personally can best support your campaign.

2.Major Donor Gatherings. These are for $1,000+ donors that are hosted in the private home of someone of great affluence and community ties. This invitation is specific and not for your whole donor list. The purpose of these gatherings is to encourage larger giving amounts and deeper connection with your pregnancy center. The invitations should go out on the stationary of the host or hostess.


  1. Cultivate corporate sponsorships. Many corporations earmark funds in their budget to give to nonprofits. Cultivate relationships, let them know about your mission, and ask if they’d be willing to support your capital campaign. They can also help get the word out to their clients and customers about your campaign and the work you do in the community. Corporations may choose to sponsor your events in exchange for you listing them as corporate sponsors.


  1. Ask for challenge grants. Your high-capacity donors may be willing to give a certain amount as a challenge that you can issue to other people during the public phase of your campaign. Challenge grants are great because they help other people feel like their gifts are going twice as far as they would normally, helping you gain momentum for the rest of your campaign.


Now it’s time to launch the final phase of your campaign: The public phase!


Public Phase

As the name implies, this is the part of your campaign where you announce your goal and the funds already raised to date to the general public, including the rest of your donor list that may not know about the campaign yet.


  1. Host a kick-off event. To begin the public part of your campaign with a bang, consider hosting an event. This could be a walk, banquet, concert, tournament, or some other community event. This will help give the final phase of your campaign momentum and include a lot of different people. At this event, have a way to keep attendees informed of how much money is being raised, and also include a mobile giving option to make it easier for people to give.


  1. Incorporate peer-to-peer fundraising. This will help more people find out about your campaign and encourage broader support and giving. It allows your supporters to have a voice to express why they’re excited about your cause and draw in family and friends, describing personally why they should consider being involved, too. Make sure you provide sample content, videos, and photos for your supporters to use as they set up their campaigns.


  1. Engage with your donors. During this public phase, it’s important for you to steward your donors and show appreciation for them as they help you reach your campaign goal. Send regular updates not only to keep your donors informed but to keep your campaign in front of them, especially if it’s during a longer timeframe. You can invite them to attend special celebration events, and send out regular video updates keeping them engaged with what’s happening during the campaign and how close you are getting to your goal.


Plan for success


When it comes to raising money for a major capital expense, many organizations make this mistake in their thinking… “Capital campaign consultants are too expensive. We can do it ourselves and we have some donors who have been chairpersons of other campaigns.”


Campaigns that hire professional fundraising consultants raise more money than campaigns run without professional help. Generally, those campaigns also take less time, utilize staff more effectively, and the total cost (expenses plus fees) is usually less than 15% of the funds pledged. While experienced staff and volunteers are helpful, it is often too challenging to manage their daily responsibilities and then additionally conduct a major fundraising campaign.


Keep in mind that your capital campaign will be a very public high-stakes, high-risk campaign. The organization’s visibility will be the highest ever, so your success or failure will be very public. A successful campaign “raises all ships in the harbor.” In other words, a successful campaign will increase your annual revenue because of all the new donors and new interest in your organization!


Large institutions like hospitals and universities hire consultants during their capital campaigns.  Even though they have very competent and in most cases, elite development staff that are at the top of their field, they still always go with a professional consultant to manage the campaign. Additionally, the institutions usually can attract experienced volunteer leadership also, but they know from their own history, when to call in professionals.  


If you are considering a capital campaign and want professional help from consultants who have extensive experience in the pro-life movement, please call Choose Life Marketing today! 

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