If you’re headed into a capital campaign, it’s likely your board members are anxious. For starters, they’ll want to know how much they’ll need to give. And whether they’ll need to help raise the funds.
Knowledge is power. It will go a long way to help your board members understand where the money will come from and how your organization can be successful raising so much money. To that end, we’d like to offer a few tips and resources.
4 Campaign Resources, Tips, and Tools for Your Board
Below you’ll find a variety of resources, tips, and tools for helping to relieve your board’s anxieties and calm their fears.
1. Answer their questions
Formally (at meetings) and informally (one-on-one) answer their questions. Invite questions and provide opportunities for them to express their concerns. If you’re not sure of the answer, say so. Do some research and get back to them. (See the Board Member FAQ section below.)
2. Schedule a board training
As a group, your board members will appreciate learning about what’s to come. It’s likely that most of your board members are inexperienced with campaigns. They may not even know what questions to ask.
You will do them (and yourself) a big service by acknowledging that you are heading into a high-stake fundraising endeavor. This training will answer questions and alleviate fears.
3. Provide a board self-assessment
A good board self-assessment will help board members understand what needs to happen to prepare for a campaign. It will ask simple questions like, “do we have 100% participation?” And more challenging ones like, “Does our board fully understand the ramifications of this project?” and “Is our board fully supportive of this campaign?”
These questions will help steer conversations — both as a group and with individual board members — in the months ahead.
4. Share results of a campaign readiness assessment
As a staff, you will also want to take a campaign readiness assessment and share the results with your board. That will give them a vote of confidence that you’re ready to move ahead. In areas where you’re not quite campaign-ready, share your plans and strategies for getting there.
4 Frequently Asked Questions by Board Members
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions by board members. It will be important to answer their questions to help you move forward as a group and as an organization.
One fearful board member can poison your chances for success by badmouthing the campaign to others. Head off this bad talk by taking the time to answer questions, enhance confidence, and increase your chances for success.
1. How much will I have to give?
Each board member is expected to give a significant and meaningful gift for their own budget. Every board member will give a different amount and not every board member will give a major gift to the campaign.
That said, each board member’s gift should be meaningful to that individual. Additionally, board members should be among the first to step up and make their pledges.
2. How much will a campaign cost?
For planning purposes, you should estimate that the campaign expenses will be approximately 10% of the campaign goal. (Less for large campaigns [over $10M] and sometimes more for smaller campaigns [under $5M].)
Campaign expenses include things like:
- consulting fees
- new staff salaries
- donor recognition
- printing and videos
- donor receptions and ribbon cuttings
- technology and infrastructure
3. Why should we do a feasibility study if we know we’re doing a campaign anyway?
A feasibility study is a unique and important opportunity to involve your biggest potential donors and community leaders in your campaign in the early planning stages. It’s an opportunity for them to become “insiders” and provide feedback prior to asking for gifts.
Excluding key leaders from this early planning stage is like putting your head in the sand and pretending you can do this alone. (You can’t!)
4. Do we really need a campaign consultant?
Yes and no — in other words, maybe.
There are many types of consults who provide a wide range of services. Do you need a full-service firm to come in and act like staff? Probably not. Do you need advice, strategy, tools, and guidance? In most cases, yes.
Ask yourself, do your staff members have deep campaign experience? In other words, have they led the strategy and implementation on multiple campaigns from start to finish? And if so, do they feel confident in leading the charge? If that’s the case, you may not need much (or any) consulting support.
However, most staff members, regardless of their prior experience, do want someone with even more experience by their side during this high-stakes fundraising effort.
Remember, when heading into a campaign, you want everyone on your team (including board members) rowing in the same direction.
Give Your Board Confidence in Your Campaign
If you’re heading into a campaign, you’ll want the full confidence and backing of your board members. It’s essential to take the time to answer their questions, acknowledge their concerns, provide training, and give them the confidence that together, you can do this!
If you’d like to know how the Capital Campaign Toolkit team can help you and your board, sign up for a free strategy session and we’ll get you moving in the right direction.