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April 13, 2016
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April 27, 2016

What You Need to Fundraise for Big Dreams

Does your organization has an idea for making a big leap forward?

Is it something that requires a large investment and has the promise of exponential impact?

Consider using the capital campaign structure to create the urgency and involvement of your major supporters.

The capital campaign structure can galvanize your donor base and inspire gifts that result in transformational impact. Why not use it for fundraising beyond a building?

While a shiny new building is attractive to staff and supporters alike, it isn’t always the way to make a big leap forward.

Ann and I have a client who was on the brink of doing a capital campaign for a new building. The organization wanted to grow and it recognizes that a campaign has the power to jump start a major gifts effort.

But in talking to its donors this organization realized that it didn’t really need a building. What it needed was money to expand program staff and infrastructure.

So, instead it launched two major gift campaigns over five years to raise money for new program initiatives and the staff and building renovations that could not be done without this new infusion of money. They used the capital campaign structure to do it, including a very tight case for giving, volunteer-led steering committee, opportunities for donors to make planned gifts and pledges, and a timeline for campaign completion.

It raised the money and the resulting work has catapulted the organization into a different level of organization in terms of both the impact it makes and the way the community views it.

If this sounds like an idea that might be more in line with your organization’s dreams, here are five things you will need to make the campaign a success:

  1. Good planning: In order to launch a campaign for your organization’s big dreams, you need a solid road map for the future. What could your organization do for the issue, the community, the world if money were no object? Once you have that vision, your case for giving simply writes itself.
  2. Partnership with programming: There are too many organizations where the fundraising staff and the program staff are operating in silos, unaware of the great work each part is doing. Any major gift officer will tell you that you need the passion, creativity, and vision of program staff in order to inspire your donors, and program staff need to know that you have the relationships to make their dreams reality. From this synergy will come the blueprint for any big campaign.
  3. A group of supporters to help you: One of the most incredible things about capital campaigns is their ability to activate passionate, devoted supporters. These dynamic donors drive the peer-to-peer outreach that is the key to any successful major gifts effort. Be sure to keep these partners informed and close to the campaign from the beginning.
  4. A functioning annual giving campaign: Launching any kind of campaign will require you to have some of the infrastructure of a functioning fundraising operation including: a donor database to record gifts, recognition and acknowledgement systems, the expertise and staff to cultivate large donors, and a way to inform supporters of your progress.
  5. Additional resources: You know the saying, “it takes money to make money”, right? Nothing could be more true in campaign fundraising. You will need investment in materials, staffing, events, and recognition. There has to be some room in the budget to gear up and launch the effort.

Think about the power that can come from knitting together he dreams of your staff, volunteers, and donors into a big, transformative fundraising effort. It’s not business as usual, but a way to capture the spirit at the heart of your work.

This post is part of a three part series. For more on this idea of a special initiatives campaign check out this companion post on what a campaign could do for your fundraising and this post on how you can take the best from crowdfunding and capital campaigning to create a special initiatives campaign.

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