The number one reason to have a capital campaign is that your organization is ready for exponential growth. But what does that mean?

Why You Should Have a Capital Campaign

Perhaps your programs and services have outgrown your space, or the current space is no longer available or adequate. Or maybe your organization is prepared to make a leap and serve more people, a bigger geographic area, or have a bigger impact.

Whatever the case, your organization is ready to grow in a big way!

However, lots of board members and even staff members have misguided notions of why organizations should have a capital campaign. But there are a number of reasons not to have a campaign, too.

3 Reasons NOT to Have a Capital Campaign

To keep you on the straight and narrow, consider these three important reasons NOT to let your board discussion devolve into the idea of a campaign before you’re truly ready.

Reason 1: A Milestone Anniversary

One reason many organizations think they should have a capital campaign is in honor of a milestone anniversary. However, simply because you’ve existed for 25, 50 or even 100 years is not motivation enough for donors to give you substantial dollars. In other words, your milestone anniversary is not a good enough reason to have a capital campaign.

The truth is that campaigns are about the next 5, 10 or 20 years. They’re about the future, not the past. And while the past is relevant because it shows you have a track record and staying power, it’s not justification for a campaign itself.

Reason 2: To Start or Grow Your Endowment

Another reason not to have a capital campaign is to start or to grow your endowment. While I know you and your board would love to have a huge endowment, that’s not motivation enough for most donors.

Of course, you will likely include endowment as one component of your campaign. But that’s just one small slice of your campaign pie. In order to be of interest to most donors and grow your organization as a whole, your campaign will need to raise money for programs, services, capital needs, as well as endowment.

Reason 3: To Reduce Your Debt

The final reason not to have a capital campaign is debt reduction.

Reducing your debt will not be a motivator for the majority of donors. Once the building is built or the programs have started, most donors don’t feel a sense of urgency. An appeal for debt reduction can feel like a desperate plea, and no donor wants to be in the position of bailing out your organization.

So, while your organization may wish to pay off debt, it’s important to identify other area needs for which to raise money.

Is Your Organization is Ready for a Capital Campaign?

To find out if your organization is ready for a campaign, if you’ve purchased one of the three Capital Campaign Toolkit plans, you can login and check out the Readiness Assessment worksheets, as well as the Case for Support worksheet — both are found in the “Pre-Campaign Planning” Phase of the Toolkit.

You can also subscribe to the Capital Campaign Masters newsletter, and when you do, you’ll gain access to a 7-part Campaign Readiness Assessment as a free bonus.


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