Capital Campaigns | The New Guide for Growing Nonprofits

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Learn how to maximize your capital campaign with Qgiv!

Capital campaigns are important for growing organizations. As your size and mission grows, so will your financial needs! In order to sufficiently meet those needs, you’ll probably consider running capital campaigns that aim to raise a large amount of money at once.

That’s why we’ve compiled this guide to help your organization explore the possibilities a capital campaign can offer.

What’s a Capital Campaign?

A capital campaign is a large, focused effort by a nonprofit organization to raise a certain amount of money within a specific period of time.

Generally, a capital campaign’s purpose is to fund high-cost strategic initiatives like building renovations or construction. The goals of these campaigns are often in the millions and may take multiple years to achieve.

Read with us about capital campaigns from the top or jump to the sections that most interest you:

Are you ready to learn how to make the most of capital campaigns as a growing nonprofit? Let’s get started!

Get your questions answered about capital campaigns.Capital Campaigns: Frequently Asked Questions

How does a capital campaign work?

A capital campaign takes place over a defined period of time and usually consists of two main phases: the quiet phase and the public phase. Usually, nonprofits include a planning phase before the campaign launches.

During the quiet phase, nonprofits usually raise approximately 50%-70% of the revenue through major gifts. Then, the remaining funds are raised during the public phase, and donations are solicited from a larger audience of smaller donors.

These are the main phases of capital campaigns.

What kind of nonprofits use capital campaigns?

Any kind of nonprofit can use a capital campaign, but this type of campaign is typically run by organizations with large needs and projects. The two primary kinds of nonprofits that regularly run capital campaigns are healthcare organizations and educational institutions.

How much does a capital campaign cost?

A capital campaign will typically cost an organization about 10% of their ultimate goal. Activities that have a cost associated with them include events, face-to-face fundraising, and direct mail.

How long should a capital campaign take?

A capital campaign can span multiple years. If you decide to run one, you’ll start by planning your capital campaign and completing a feasibility study. Then you’ll enter the quiet phase, where you’ll raise 50%-70% of your funds. This phase could take close to a year.

Once you kick off your campaign following months of cultivating major donors, you’ll launch into the public phase to extend your reach to the greater community. The entire campaign could take anywhere between 1 and 5 years!

What is a capital campaign feasibility study?

A capital campaign feasibility study helps a nonprofit determine whether or not they’ll be able to meet their fundraising goal with a capital campaign. This is done through surveys, often with assistance from campaign consultants.

There are many capital campaign best practices to consider.Capital Campaign Best Practices

Here are the top capital campaign best practices.

Incorporate capital campaign best practices before you launch your campaign.

Preparing for Your Capital Campaign

Your planning phase is an integral part of your capital campaign planning process. That’s why it’s important to consider some capital campaign best practices that will keep you on track and moving toward your fundraising goal, even before you launch your campaign.

Some best practices include investing in the right fundraising software platform, conducting a feasibility study, and setting a capacity-based goal and timeline.

Invest in a fundraising software platform.

Investing in a robust fundraising software platform is a wise choice for several reasons. For one, you’ll offer your donors a positive and easy experience as they complete their donation, which will leave them with a positive impression of your organization overall. This will then keep them engaged with your nonprofit in the future. Who knows which supporter will be your next major donor?

By streamlining your donation process with great fundraising software, you’ll be able to customize your forms, capture the donor information that you need, keep your organization’s branding on your forms, and instill trust in your donors. You can also integrate your fundraising software with your nonprofit’s CRM, which will allow you to keep track of your donor data and continue communicating with them even after the campaign ends.

Conduct a feasibility study.

Conducting a feasibility study prior to your campaign’s quiet phase is an important capital campaign best practice. Because unsuccessful capital campaigns can be detrimental to a nonprofit’s reputation, it’s necessary to complete a feasibility study to make sure your nonprofit can reach its predetermined goal. During a feasibility study, you’ll interview 20-40 members of the community to determine whether they’d be willing to help fund your project.

Once the study closes, you should have enough information to determine whether you should move forward with your campaign. You’ll base this decision off of how much your existing donor base can and will probably contribute, plus information from responses from your stakeholder interviews.

Set a capacity-based goal and timeline.

To round out your preparation, it’s important to set a realistic fundraising goal and timeline for your organization. Before you start raising any money, be sure that your goals are reasonable (but still optimistic!) and set a budget for the expenses you’ll incur during the planning and fundraising processes. Your budget may include consultant fees, communications, and donor recognition tactics.

It’s also important to create a gift range chart during the planning process. A gift range chart notes the number of donations you will need to reach your fundraising goal. This chart also shows you the number of gifts at varying levels you’ll need to raise, plus an idea of how many prospects you’ll need to contact for each giving level. This chart will be a useful guide throughout your campaign.

Incorporate capital campaign best practices during your campaign.

Making Your Capital Campaign Count

In order to effectively execute your campaign, you’ll need to tailor your efforts for each phase of your campaign and ensure you keep your supporters involved and updated.

Make your campaign count with capital campaign best practices like varying your fundraising efforts, enlisting the support of fundraising ambassadors, and continuously re-engaging donors.

Vary your fundraising efforts across the campaign.

It’s important to use different fundraising tactics as the campaign progresses. During your quiet phase, for instance, reach out to major stakeholders, hold one-on-one conversations with potential major donors, and spend time focusing on collecting major gifts.

As you move into your public phase, take advantage of peer-to-peer fundraising software, online fundraising pages, regular marketing strategies, and other tools you can use to engage your donors.

Enlist key supporters to be fundraising ambassadors.

Part of making your capital campaign a success involves calling on key supporters to become fundraising ambassadors. These can include board members and other top supporters who can inspire major donors to give by giving a major gift themselves. Fundraising ambassadors are some of the most effective individuals at promoting your campaign.

Re-engage dedicated donors throughout the campaign.

The great thing about a capital campaign is that most of them run over multiple years. That gives you time to readjust your fundraising strategy as needed. One of your strategies may revolve around your major giving funnel.

Because you will have built gift range charts, you’ll have an idea of the number of prospects that need to give within a certain range. For example, if an individual gives $10,000 when you ask for $15,000, you may need to ask another prospect for a larger gift amount in the chart.

As the campaign goes on, you’ll see where supporters drop off and you can work to re-engage them properly.

Learn how to use capital campaign best practices after your campaign ends.

After the Capital Campaign: What’s Next?

Even after your capital campaign wraps up, there’s a lot of work to be done! Having great campaign wrap-up processes in place will ensure that you make the most of your success. After all, you don’t want your campaign to end and then lose supporters because it’s over.

You should be focusing on donor retention strategies, growing your goals from campaign to campaign, and, most importantly, planning for your next push.

Abide by donor retention best practices.

In order to retain your newly-acquired capital campaign donors, it’s important to focus on great donor retention strategies. These include showing appreciation once donors have contributed to your campaign, sharing their impact, and keeping them updated as the project progresses. Donors want to know where their contributions have gone, so remaining transparent and keeping them updated is essential.

Grow your capital campaign goals incrementally from campaign to campaign.

If you want to build long-term fundraising capacity, it’s important to be reasonable with your goals. Growing your capital campaign goals in increments with each campaign will give you a higher chance of achieving those goals.

Consider investing in new fundraising software, improving your communications, boosting volunteer and donor retention rates, and investing in team member education to prepare your organization for the length of each subsequent capital campaign.

Take stock of your latest campaign’s successes.

It’s also important to start planning your next capital campaign as early as possible. By evaluating your latest campaign’s successes and using them as an indication of how future campaigns can perform, you can start preparing for your next feasibility study and begin your planning phase. Checkout these additional capital campaign best practices!

Check out these nonprofit capital campaign examples.Examples of Nonprofit Capital Campaigns

The Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii effectively launched and executed a capital campaign.

Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii

The Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii evolved from a single-room after-school program to 9 clubs spanning the islands of Oahu and Kauai that serve 15,000 young people.

Their organization used Qgiv’s peer-to-peer fundraising tools to reach a wide audience for their Great Futures Day campaign, offering badges as a way to gamify their fundraising process and encourage friendly competition. The GiftAssist feature allowed donors to cover the processing fees for their actual donations, too. This nonprofit capital campaign example is one of many that were successful using Qgiv’s tools.

How Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii Reached Their Goals with Qgiv

Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii experienced a 100% year-over-year increase in their fundraising during their Great Futures Day campaign. Last year, they raised $200,000 using Qgiv’s fundraising software, which is double the amount they raised the year before with their previous provider.

SPCA Florida effectively launched and executed a capital campaign.

SPCA Florida

SPCA Florida runs a humane animal shelter in Lakeland, Florida. Their mission is to eliminate animal suffering and enhance the human-animal bond by getting the entire community involved with the welfare and well-being of animals.

This organization puts on the annual SPCA Walk for Animals, a peer-to-peer fundraising walk event with individual and team fundraising options. SPCA built and customized event pages and took advantage of Qgiv’s simple registration portal and user-friendly platform. They also created custom fundraising badges using the tools in Qgiv’s Badge Center.

How SPCA Florida Reached Their Goals with Qgiv

SPCA’s next Walk for Animals garnered over 300 registrants, and the Walk raised 101% of the organization’s goal, earning $121,157.

Animal Justice effectively launched and executed a capital campaign.

Animal Justice

Animal Justice is a great example of nonprofit capital campaign fundraising. They found Qgiv right before the launch of their first peer-to-peer campaign, and they quickly learned how to create beautiful event pages. They were able to engage their fundraising participants with peer-to-peer fundraising badges and GiftAssist.

Animal Justice easily set up a page for their #Voiceless4AnimalJustice campaign with a fundraising goal of $25,000.

How Animal Justice Reached Their Goals with Qgiv

Using Qgiv’s fundraising software, Animal Justice exceeded their $25,000 goal by 12%. They received 465 donations, 125 of which were submitted by supporters giving to their organization for the first time.

Learn how to maximize your capital campaign with Qgiv!

As your nonprofit grows and explores capital campaigns as a way to raise much-needed money for a large project, be sure to plan carefully! Treat each phase of the campaign as important, and be sure to perform your feasibility studies before each project. From there, you’ll have the data you need to start your campaign!

If you’re looking for more information about nonprofit software that can help with your capital campaigns or fundraising in general, check out these additional resources below:

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