4 Tips for Capital Campaigns

The last few months have proved challenging for any organization conducting a Capital Campaign or preparing to start one. Capital Campaigns, by their nature, are highly organized and orchestrated events that require not only a well-conceived strategy but a tremendous amount of organizational discipline and hard work to achieve success. What happens then when a combined health and economic crisis erupts in the middle of this highly choreographed fundraising endeavor? I asked David Cobb, Vice President, Campaign Division to give some tips and thoughts about the process during a crisis.

  • All Campaigns run into roadblocks/ challenges. One of the first things to remember is that no capital campaign ever goes as it was originally planned, even during the best of economic times. Successful campaigns are those that understand this, accept it and are flexible to make course corrections when needed. While you want to “work your plan” and be disciplined to it, leaders also need to be open to adjusting the plan as challenges arise.
  • Time can be your best friend. Capital Campaigns are generally long-term fundraising efforts. Use this time to your advantage as roadblocks present themselves. Consider extending the “Quiet Period” to allow more clarity on economic conditions or giving donors longer time horizons for payment of pledges. Time can also be used in the opposite way to create new urgency for the campaign and highlighting the immediacy and importance of the project.
  • Consider phasing as a strategy to adjust your goals. As challenges arise, leadership may also be forced to consider whether the overall project can be achieved given new economic realities. If adjustments need to be made, breaking up the current project into smaller phases is another strategy that can help move the project forward/achieve some success while being realistic about new economic realities.
  • Communicate openly about these challenges to your donors. Most importantly, make sure that whatever you do, communicate openly and honestly with those donors who may have already committed to your campaign and those that are closest to your organization. This is “their project” as much as it is “your project” and keeping them informed and engaged is vital to current and future success.

Regardless of where you and your organization might be in the process of executing a capital campaign always make sure your strategy meets the moment. Be ready to make changes, be open to new strategies and communicate openly and honestly with your donors to ensure long-term success. As always, we are here to help start your campaign process or to help refocus and refresh one that is in process. Give us a call!