What is a capital campaign and 5 tips for success.

A capital campaign is an effort to raise a lot of money in a short amount of time for a special project. Think new building, new wing, new program, new endowment. It doesn’t always have to be new, but it usually is.

When I was in my teens, my church raised money to build a new recreation center. When my pastor would ask for gifts to this effort he would emphasize that a campaign gift was “over and above your tithes and offerings”. Translate: We need to build the recreation center, but we still need to keep the lights on here at the church.

I like to think of a capital campaign as a bag of money driving itself across the bridge to get to your organization. BUT…you have to build the bridge.

Here are some tips:

1. Your campaign consultant is your army corps of engineers. They’ve overseen the building a lot of bridges and they’re seasoned. Don’t build a bridge without one.
Tip 1: Hire competent campaign counsel.

2. Build the right bridge for your organization. Don’t try to build the Golden Gate bridge on a plywood budget.
Tip 2: Setting the right campaign goal is imperative. Choose this number with great care and in consultation with your counsel.

3. Build community support for your bridge. A protest at a ribbon cutting never ends well.
Talk to your donors. Talk to your board. Build a consensus for your case for support during the planning phase of your campaign.

4. Bridge builders don’t wake up on a Monday morning and start digging. They plan. They research. They adjust quickly to the unexpected.
Develop a campaign plan and timeline. Stick to it.

5. You can’t build a bridge with a knife and fork. You have to invest in the right tools.
A successful capital campaign is made up of many tiny tasks. Make sure you have a good system to manage campaign prospects, campaign tasks, and campaign volunteers.

You know what’s worse than no bridge at all? A bridge that crumbles.

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