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BlogCapital Campaign Planning: Steps to Success

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Fundraising reveal after capital campaign planning success.

Capital Campaign Planning: Steps to Success

Your organization is considering a capital campaign, but perhaps you are nervous about taking on such a large endeavor. Capital campaign planning takes a lot of time, resources and effort to be successful. Here are a few steps to help your organization set the stage for a successful capital campaign.

Capital Campaign Planning Steps:

  1. Teamwork of fundraising donors & prospectsKnow your current donors and prospects. Do you have a donor base that has been cultivated to make leads or major gifts for a campaign? Contributions of all sizes will be needed to achieve your campaign goal, but you’ll also need to identify prospects that can make lead gifts for the campaign to demonstrate and encourage others to participate. Some organizations find they have a loyal donor base, but it’s small. Can you reach your intended campaign goal with your current donor base, or do you need to consider acquiring new prospects for your organization? New prospects will need to be educated about your nonprofit and your mission before you pursue them for campaign support.
  2. Define your need/case for support. This is your opportunity to share your organization’s story, mission, vision for the future and why your proposed project or initiative is needed. Will your project allow you to expand your nonprofit’s services by addressing a community need? Will your building expansion allow you to serve more constituents? Your case for support should be clear about your organization’s needs and compelling to inspire potential donors to contribute to your campaign.
  3. Increase public awareness. To give to you, people need to know you and what needs you are addressing in the community. Increasing your awareness in the community should take place before asking for money so that people are already aware of your needs. Determine the best platforms for getting the message out to your targeted audiences about who you are and the services you provide in the community.
  4. FundraisingConduct a feasibility study. For projects over $1 million that may take several years to complete, it is advisable to begin your campaign with a sound feasibility or readiness study. A feasibility study is a roadmap that provides insight into the community’s perception of your organization and proposed project, determines if your fundraising goal is attainable and garners interest from potential volunteers and campaign donors.
  5. Determine project costs. Potential campaign donors will want to know that you have done your due diligence and have obtained estimated costs to achieve your intended project outcome. In addition, your organization will want to consider how you will pay for additional operating costs for a building expansion or increased expenses for adding a new program to your services.
  6. Committed staff and board. When an organization embarks on a capital campaign, the entire organization needs to be committed to its success. Executive directors and board members need to be able to support development officers and campaign volunteers in promoting, contributing and making asks for the campaign. Additionally, other staff members, regardless of their role within the nonprofit, need to be supportive and share the great impacts the campaign will have on constituents, community partners and potential funders.
  7. Review and update fundraising operations. Your development office operations are the behind-the-scenes elements that are needed to ensure your campaign runs smoothly. Things to review include your team structure, capabilities, policies and procedures for accepting, tracking and acknowledging gifts.
  8. Three fundraising volunteers taken by AMPERAGE, a healthcare marketing agency in the Midwest.Recruit and retain ample and willing volunteers. Most nonprofits operate on a limited budget and may not have the ability to hire additional staff to reach all campaign prospects. Many hands are needed to engage a large cast of individuals, businesses and other funders with your campaign. Volunteers can leverage your reach to help open doors, solicit gifts, plan campaign events and spread the word about your organization and project.

AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising has served over 250 nonprofits in pre-campaign planning, feasibility studies and campaign consultation. Visit to receive our Fundraising Pre-Campaign Checklist or to contact an AMPERAGE fundraising adviser at call 319.268.9151.

Written by:

Melissa provides fundraising counsel for AMPERAGE’s nonprofit clients, leading feasibility studies and providing solutions that drive successful fundraising campaign results. A Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), she uses her experience and extensive skill set to continually advance her fundraising practices and develop campaign-specific strategies, materials and training to help clients reach their campaign goals and advance their mission. Melissa has vast experience working in the nonprofit sector, having served in development and leadership roles with Sisters of Mercy and the Alzheimer’s Association. In addition, she has served as a volunteer and board member with local nonprofits, such as the Catherine McAuley Center. Faith-based organizations and causes are of particular interest to Melissa. Melissa moves the needle by always looking for new opportunities and ways to improve professionally. She is currently president of the Eastern Iowa Planned Giving Council and a past president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals-Eastern Iowa Chapter. Melissa holds a Master of Strategic Leadership degree from Mount Mercy University. This busy professional, wife and mother enjoys sports and live music in her free time. A fan of Cubs baseball and Iowa Hawkeye football, Melissa and family enjoy football tailgating, where she’s known for her breakfast burritos. She enjoys the local band scene but says a Foo Fighters concert is her all-time favorite.