A capital campaign – or any other quantum leap in your fundraising – will pull at every fiber of your nonprofit. These are not “business as usual” activities. If you want to grow from one level of donated revenue to another you have to do things differently. It’s no different than a business seeking to enter a new market or release a new product. New, more and different thinking, actions and people are required for new, more and different results.
We know this means more work for nonprofits that are often already operating beyond capacity. But you have to find a way to operate differently if you want different results. We are not saying that everything has to change all at once, but the rate at which you engage potential donors and funders is the rate at which you will begin to see a change in revenue.
Change can begin with an honest assessment of the road ahead. Your institution may need to raise money for new facilities or technologies. Your nonprofit may need to replace a government contract or grant that won’t be renewed. In these examples the first step is to identify the amount of money that needs to be raised. This is the starting point for an important organizational conversation. For too many nonprofits, it is also the end point.
Knowing what you need to raise is not enough. What needs to take place is a conversation about “how” the money will be raised, and what it will cost. Fundraising costs include money, time, talent and resources. You can hire a fundraising consultant to talk with your leadership team, or you can begin the conversation on your own. Questions to discuss include: Where will the money come from? Who could provide how much? Can we identify three-times as many potential donors as we will need to meet our goal? Why would a donor or funder want to give? Who would ask them to give? How will we organize ourselves? Who will manage and coordinate our fundraising? What resources will he have available? How will a capital campaign impact our annual fundraising? How will we sustain and grow our current donors while attracting new ones? What new policies are needed? What impact will new buildings or technologies have on our operating budget? How will we budget to maintain these?
Open and honest conversations can be both sobering and revealing. Most importantly they contribute to organizational and financial health. They are an opportunity to candidly assess your capabilities and options before launching into a major campaign. When successful a capital campaign – or any quantum leap in your fundraising – will have a major impact on the life of your nonprofit: you will have the funds you need to deliver on your mission and expand your impact.
Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them @saadshaw.