PMA Consulting, LLC

Are You Ready to Launch a Capital Campaign?

A capital campaign is typically intended to generate revenue for the purpose of acquiring or improving a specific asset. However, a capital campaign can also be leveraged to introduce a new vision and/or reinvigorate an organization’s donor, advocate and volunteer base.

Regardless, success or failure is most often measured incrementally based on the extent to which revenue or other desirable outcomes transcend or fall short of their sanctioned goal. Due to its highly visible nature, failure to achieve a capital campaign goal is unfortunately a serious matter with the potential to, not only curtail the development of critical assets, but also jeopardize the integrity of an organization.

Too often, the individuals accountable for the final result of a capital campaign are not afforded the opportunity to determine its feasibility prior to launch; instead, the development professional inherits the “seemingly arbitrary” objectives and the unquestionable responsibility of seeing them through.

PMA’s recommendation? Seize control of the feasibility process at the earliest of planning stages. If the answer is “no” to any of these key questions, consider the possibility that you might not be ready to launch a capital campaign:

  1. Do you have a board of directors with capital fundraising experience and the preparedness to lead, provide funding, solicit major gifts, and deliver access to individuals of affluence or influence?
  2. Do you have a compelling and clearly defined case for support for the project/initiative to be funded, emanating from an abundantly understood organizational mission statement and compatible with the organization’s long-range strategic plan?
  3. Do you have rated and evaluated prospects sufficient to provide enough gifts to raise the most money from the fewest sources needed, and in the least amount of time?
  4. Have you achieved structure and timing that assures the capital campaign will not interfere with the annual fund and is spaced to avoid conflict with major givers who continue to make pledge payments on past campaigns?
  5. Do you have a written campaign plan that includes an activity timeline, staff and volunteer role descriptions, and a realistic budget for the proposed capital enhancements?
  6. Do you have an unvarnished view of the organization’s fundraising track record and the community’s propensity and capacity to provide it with continued and enhanced support?
  7. Do you have knowledge of other organizations’ current and planned fundraising activity and the availability of key local donors, volunteers and advocates?