There are numerous online resources and reference materials to assist with preparing for a capital campaign. Membership with the Berks Regional Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (Berks AFP) includes access to extensive reference materials and educational programs which augment the summary below.

How important is pre-campaign planning?

Before soliciting any gifts, time must be spent building a committed and involved board, strengthening the development program, increasing the agency’s visibility and reputation, and conducting a strategic plan.

Capital campaigns are generally the culmination of an effective, long-term, development program. Key indicators of potential success in a capital campaign include a broad base of support and consistently growing annual fundraising efforts. The Board needs to pay particular attention to the mix of corporate, foundation, and individual philanthropy reflected in the organization’s recent history.

What are key governance practices for an agency under consideration for a capital campaign?

As per the Capital Campaign Review Board Bylaws, there must be a governing Board of Directors for the organization. The Board should:

  • Ensure that the organization complies with appropriate accounting practices, as well as local, state, and federal laws.
    Be composed of a non-paid chair and non-paid members, a majority of whom are not employees of the organization or relatives of employees.
  • Include individuals with various areas of expertise, particularly in business or finance.
  • Reflect the community served by the organization.
  • Have term limitations except where a majority of the Board is elected or appointed by an entity other than the Board of Directors or the members of the organization.
  • Approve an annual operating budget and receive financial statements not less than semi-annually.
  • Have an independent certified public accounting firm perform an external audit for organizations whose annual budgets exceed $300,000 and ensure that they or a board-level committee meet directly with the firm that performs the audit.
  • Approve written personnel policies, a salary plan, and job descriptions.
  • Review the performance of the Executive Director and set the compensation for that individual.
  • Ensure that the organization has and adheres to a written Conflict of Interest policy that has been adopted by the Board.
    What is a case statement (case for support) and how is it used?

What is a case statement (case for support) and how is it used?

Case statements can be used in any fundraising campaign, but they are particularly useful in major gift campaigns, capital campaigns, and endowment campaigns. A case for support is used to persuade donors to give. In written form, it serves as the foundation for all other marketing materials. The case statement needs to be specific, should convey a sense of urgency, and cover all the questions that donors might have about the capital campaign.

What is a Feasibility Study?

A feasibility study consists of one-on-one meetings and focus groups to test the potential support for a project. The goals are two-fold: to gather feedback and information to guide the project while creating early support and awareness among key parties.

Organizations that perform such studies develop realistic goals and stronger cases for support. Hiring a professional consultant to conduct the feasibility study can elicit more honest opinions and uncover further considerations from interviewees.

Additionally, it is important to choose  participants that either have a history with your organization or represent the community’s interests. Examples include former board members, key volunteers, and local leaders.

A Feasibility Study can help answer the following questions:

  • Is there a large enough donor base to support the goal?
  • Does the project make sense and offer a concrete solution?
  • Does the project have the support of the Board of Directors?
  • How much can be raised?
  • Is now the right time to host a capital campaign?
  • What questions do potential donors have about the project?
  • Who are potential major gift prospects/campaign leaders?

Is a campaign slogan needed?

Capital campaign slogans (also called taglines) are short, catchy phrases that communicate the campaign’s message. A slogan should be self-explanatory and memorable. Having a slogan is important because it will help differentiate the campaign’s purpose from the non-profit’s other fundraising endeavors.

While a slogan may seem like just a small part of the campaign, it can raise awareness and succinctly explain why funds are needed.