17 Things you Need in your Capital Campaign Plan

1. Case for support

Why do you need a case for support? To communicate why your capital campaign is important and to convince others to get involved with your campaign.

CIf you’re planning on a capital campaign for your organization, it’s important to set aside time to write a comprehensive and thoughtful support statement. Your case for support will be useful in communicating your campaign goals to not only your supporters, but to your board members and other important decisions makers involved in the campaign.

Important elements to include in your Case for Support are:

  • A compelling opening statement
  • A history and purpose of your organization
  • Your fundraising goal
  • A project, idea, or program that you need to move your organization to the next level
  • Any recent accomplishments or achievements of your organization
  • Your mission statement

 2. Cost estimates for campaign elements

Why do you need them? Cost estimates will help you get an accurate scope for you campaign. If you can’t accurately predict the cost of your campaign, your goal will not be accurate to the needs of your project.

Cost estimates for your campaign should be gathered by your team from trusted vendors and sources. If you’re building something, get architectural renderings and estimated construction costs (these prices will likely go up!). If your organization has never run a capital campaign, talk to other organizations of similar size to see what their costs were. Good cost estimates can help you accurately predict your campaign goal and will help you think through what funds will need to be raised.

 3. Tentative campaign goal

Why you need a tentative campaign goal? Setting a preliminary goal will help shape the scope of your campaign and think through all the costs of the project.

To start setting your tentative campaign goal, you and your team will have to start thinking carefully about your campaign budget. The reason the goal will be tentative is because even though you think you have anticipated what the project will entail, there will be things you can’t predict during your campaign. To get the most comprehensive look at your campaign costs, your team should include the following items in your preliminary planning:

  • Purchase of land or property
  • Building or Renovations (including design and construction costs)
  • Insurance
  • Campaign Consultant fees
  • Legal fees
  • Administrative and campaign marketing expenses

While this list isn’t comprehensive, it will help you get a start to planning out your campaign. Once you have the costs for all these elements you can start putting together your tentative campaign goal.

4. Campaign Chair

Why do you need a campaign chair? Your team needs a leader and point person for the campaign.

After you put together your campaign committee, an important role to fill will be your campaign chair. Choose your campaign chair carefully. They will not only serve as the leader for your campaign committee, but they should also be a person that is comfortable connecting with donors. They should be a person who is not only passionate about the mission of your organization and respected in the community, but also someone who can speak articulately about your campaign to many different audiences.

5. Campaign committee members

Why do you need a capital campaign committee? A large project cannot be successful with just one person. You need a team to undertake all the tasks.

Your capital campaign committee should potentially include members of your board of directors, staff members, community volunteers and key prospective donors. All will give valuable insight to different areas of your supporters and will help the campaign through their connections to potential supporters. It will be important to choose people who can work cohesively as a team. They will also be expected to attend regular meetings, participate in all campaign events, and secure endorsements. Your campaign committee will have a big job. Make sure you choose each member wisely.

6. Campaign committee job descriptions

Why do you need job descriptions? You can’t perform your job successfully if you don’t know your expectations.

Your campaign committee will need to know what’s expected of them, and each team member will serve a different role in the campaign. Putting together job descriptions for each role will help make sure everyone is on the same page and give clear expectations for what they need to do. The job description for the campaign committee should have an overall outline of expectations for each member, as well as role-specific descriptions for each role on the committee.

7. Communications Plan

Why do you need a communications plan? Your campaign’s mission and goals need to be cohesive from start to finish.

Your capital campaign communications plan should be set up for each phase of the campaign, and include all pertinent information to your campaign, such as your communications goals, communications calendar and budget, your targeted message for each audience, and strategies for each phase of the campaign. Communications for each phase of the campaign will have a different audience and message. As you determine the communications elements, its important to get everyone in your organization on board to ensure each team member is communicating the same message. A designated spokesperson should be identified for all media inquiries and requests for information about the campaign, so the message stays consistent throughout the campaign.

8. Lead gift prospect

Why does your capital campaign need a lead gift prospect? A strong lead gift can make or break your campaign and set the tone for your campaign.

The trend in capital campaigns is that a small percentage of lead gifts will make up a significant amount of your campaign goal, with one lead gift making up 10-25% of your total campaign goal. Your lead gift prospects should have the capacity to make a large donation to your campaign. When evaluating lead gift prospects, your campaign committee will want to use the following categories:

      • Do they already support your organization?
      • Do you know if they have given to other organizations?
      • Do they have an interest in nonprofits – especially yours?
      • Do they own any real estate?
      • Do they own any stock?
      • Do they have any business affiliations?
      • Do they make any political contributions?

One this information is gathered, see which prospective donor has the strongest potential, and devise a plan.

9. Potential Donors for Major Gifts

Why does your campaign need Major Gifts? During the quiet phase of your campaign, you will want to secure up to 75 percent of your total gifts.

Once you have your list of prospective lead gifts completed, your second list you make should be for those potential supports who will make a major gift to your campaign. A list of 10-20 names will be a good start for you campaign. If your organization doesn’t already incorporate major gifts into its annual fund, it may be harder to identify potential supports who have the capacity to make a major gift. If your organization doesn’t have any potential major gift donors, start by looking at your database, and evaluating those who already support your organization by key indicators of wealth including past donations to your organization, real estate ownership, business affiliations and political giving. If you’re having trouble or are worried you may not be able to identify your potential donors accurately, don’t hesitate to bring in a consultant. Consultants can do the research for you and get your campaign the needed boost to get you to your goal.

10. Table of Gifts

Why does your campaign need a table of gifts? A table of gifts is an important planning tool for in order to project how and when the funds will come in, and gift guidance to forming your campaign strategy.

Your table of gifts will list out the amount of donations you need at different giving levels in order for your campaign to be successful and fully funded. Your table of gifts should ultimately look more like a pyramid than a table, with fewer donors giving larger dollar amounts at the top, and more donors giving smaller amounts at the bottom. Your lead gift should be at the top, with a goal of 10-25 percent of your total campaign goal. The middle should be those major gift supporters. The top two categories together should add up to 75 percent of the campaign. The bottom of the table will be your smaller gifts and have many potential supporters and raise the remaining funds until 100 percent of your goal is reached.

11. Internal Staffing Plan

Why do you need an internal staffing plan? As with any large project, your team is going to need some help with the behind the scenes tasks. An internal staffing plan will help you determine what help your team needs.

Early in the campaign planning process, an important conversation to have with those on staff and your campaign planning team is the involvement your full-time staff will have in capital campaign tasks. It is a good time to take a look at your staff, and make sure all your internal staff are working in their strongest areas and shift roles and hire help to fill in any gaps if necessary. A capital campaign is when you need those on your staff to be at their best. Your internal staffing plan may also include hiring extra help when things get busy. Hiring a part-time, temporary staff person can help with day-to-day administrative tasks to free up your team to help with the campaign as well.

12. Campaign staffing plan (might include outside consultant)

Why do you need a campaign staffing plan? Having a campaign staffing plan will allow you team to focus on the campaign without worrying if there is enough help.

As you plan out your campaign expenses, don’t forget to include the costs of hiring help to coordinate your plan. Your team might consider hiring an outside campaign consultant to help with your strategy and big picture strategy and planning, and a campaign coordinator to help with the administrative tasks and other campaign needs when they arise. Both would help keep your campaign from relying too much on the campaign committee to keep everything going. The costs of both the consultant and the campaign coordinator can be built into the campaign fundraising goal as campaign expenses.

13. Campaign Timetable with Clear Phases

Why do you need a campaign timetable? Your campaign timetable sets clear deadlines for your campaign phases and keeps your campaign moving forward.

Your campaign will have several distinct phases, including the planning phase, the quiet phase and the public phase. When you and your team are looking setting up your campaign timetable, you’ll want to set clear guidelines and milestones for each phase of your campaign, so you know which phase you are in and if you’re on track with moving to the next phase. It’s a good idea to create a visual of your timeline and either print it out or post it in a place where you can refer to it often. Your campaign timeline should include these important phases and milestones:

    • Pre-Campaign preparation
    • Feasibility study
    • Campaign planning phase
    • Quiet Phase
    • Campaign kickoff
    • Public Phase
    • Celebration Party
    • Campaign follow up

14. Campaign Budget

Why do you need a campaign budget? While an important part of your campaign, things such as feasibility studies, campaign consultants, legal fees and administrative help cost money. It’s important to include these costs in your campaign through creating a campaign budget.

A campaign budget should be based around a percentage of what your organization needs to raise. However, the larger the campaign goal, the smaller percentage your campaign budget should be of your overall total.  Your campaign budget should include all your administrative, communications, campaign meeting and events and consultant costs. The campaign budget should be completed very early in the campaign process. It’s important to plan for costs ahead of when you will spend the money.

15. Gift acceptance policy

Why do you need a gift acceptance policy? Gifts to your capital campaign will come in many different forms. It’s important to decide what your organization will and won’t accept as a donation.

Accepting gifts can get tricky for organizations. While a gift of a large item such as an expensive and rare car may sound very exciting, there can be many hidden costs involved in selling the item, such as insurance, storage and transportation. Creating a gift acceptance policy will help guide your campaign committee and organization on what gifts to accept, and which ones to say no to. By saying no to items that will be a hindrance to your campaign’s ultimate goal, you will protect your organization from many gift scenarios that would be harmful to the organization’s reputation in the community.

16. Commemorative and “named” gift opportunities

Why does your campaign need commemorative and “named” gift opportunities? For some supporters, they find it very fulfilling and meaningful to have their names literally stamped on the project they helped support.

“Named” gift opportunities are a way for you to give your supporters a tangible way to see how their funds are being used for the project. Your campaign committee will need to sit down and go over the plans for the capital campaign and see where named gift options might fit best. Is it a room in the building? A plaque on the wall? After the committee comes up with the ideas, they should present it to the board of your organization for their approval and support of your plans. If your board doesn’t agree, then they can’t help you solicit donors for those unique opportunities in your project. Another thing to consider when coming up with named gift options is how it coincides with your gift table for your campaign. The named gift opportunity should reflect the amount given, have fewer larger opportunities, and several smaller opportunities.

17. Public Phase Plan

Why does your campaign need a public phase plan? Your public phase plan is the big announcement to the public, announcing your plans to the general public. Having a plan for this is essential to the success of your public phase and finishing your campaign strong.

After you’ve raised the majority of your fundraising goal during the quiet phase of the campaign, it’s time to formally announce the campaign to your supporters and community. Your campaign committee should sit down and come up with a plan for the launch of the campaign that includes a communications plan, a kickoff event, and a media blast to important radio stations, newspapers and television stations in your area. The goal of this phase is to raise awareness and interest from your supporters. The more planned this phase is, the more successful your campaign will be.

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