• Linda Lysakowski, ACFRE

Are You Ready for a Capital Campaign

Updated: Aug 24, 2019

Thorough planning is critical to campaign success. Your campaign plan should emerge from your organization’s overall strategic plan. During the strategic planning process, if you’ve identified a real need for growth, a campaign is the most logical outgrowth of this need.

You should also have an organization case for support in place from which the campaign case statement will evolve. If these things are not already in place, consider engaging your staff and board in a strategic planning process.

Perception of Your Organization

Is your organization generally perceived as having a history of doing a good job?

Your organization’s mission, vision, and values will be important in developing a campaign case statement. The need for funding must relate to the needs of the community, not simply to organizational needs. Your mission, vision, and values will help prospective donors understand how you serve your community and how this campaign will help achieve a community-wide vision.

Before writing your case statement, answer these questions:

  • What is our mission?

  • What are our values?

  • What is our vision?

Is our mission concise (usually one or two sentences), and does it tell the public what we actually do?

Is our vision truly farsighted and focused externally on the community, rather than internally on our organization? Are our values clear, and will they resonate with our potential donors?

What values do we hold near and dear? What are our “lines in the sand” on which we will not compromise?

You might want to plan a board and staff retreat to develop, affirm, or revise your mission, vision, and values.

How accurately does your mission statement reflect the reality of your organization’s sense of purpose and its programs?

How accurately does your values statement reflect your organization’s sense of the things it holds dear, the things about which you will not compromise?

How long has it been since your organization formally reviewed its long-range (three years or more) plan?

How would you describe your organization’s current public relations/marketing plan?

Case for Support

Before you can develop a campaign case statement, your organization should have an overall case for support. The overall case describes your organization's mission, vision, values, plans, needs, and the opportunities for readers of the case to participate in your organization's vision. It forms the basis for a more specific campaign case statement that will focus on the need for this project in your community. It is important that your campaign case statement be developed first in a preliminary form. This preliminary case will then be tested with your constituents to see whether it is compelling enough to inspire donors to support your campaign.

How fully developed is the written case for your organization’s anticipated fundraising campaign? How readily do you expect that your organization’s constituents/supporters will understand and be motivated by the benefits to be realized by completing this project? How would you describe the process by which your organization decided on this project? In how much detail are you currently able to describe the physical (capital) or endowment project and the relative importance and costs of key components?

How did you arrive at your total construction cost?

Architects often describe the building process as a three-legged stool: one leg is the square footage of the building; the second leg is the quality of materials to be used; the final leg is cost. In other words, if you have a specific number of square feet that will be required in your building and a limited budget, this will determine the quality of materials you can put into your project. Any two of the three legs will determine the third leg’s results.

Hard construction costs are not the only expenses you need to consider when budgeting for your project. Some of the soft costs include:

  • Legal fees

  • Architects' and engineering fees

  • Environmental impact and/or planning department fees

  • Inflation of construction estimates

  • Contingencies

  • New furnishings (often referred to as FF&E—furniture, fixtures, and equipment)

  • New communications systems

  • Short-term loans to cover cash flow shortages

To what extent does your currently envisioned campaign goal provide for these expenses?

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