It takes courage to plan a capital campaign. That’s because thinking about raising a huge amount of money is scary. It’s one of the most challenging forms of fundraising and you know what’s on the line.
But most things worth doing take a healthy dose of bravery. Growth of any kind requires you to get outside your comfort zone, which is often frightening. Capital campaigns are no different.
Testing Your Campaign to Build Confidence and Courage
The good news is that there are ways to test your campaign prior to going all in to make sure the odds of success are in your favor. A feasibility study not only tests your chances of success, but actually improves them.
In addition, a good feasibility study helps you develop relationships with the biggest potential donors to your campaign, as well as provides suggestions for improvement to your fundraising systems and abilities prior to a campaign. Click here to watch a 5-minute video and learn about a better way to approach your feasibility study.
Courage Makes So Many Things Possible…
Fear holds us back in life. But when you muster up the courage to overcome your fear, you can make things happen — incredible things. Think about all the things you’ve done that have taken courage:
- Learning to ride a bike
- Buying a home
- Asking someone on a date
- Starting a new job
- Going to college
- Moving to a new city
- Traveling in a foreign country
Big things in life often take courage. The potential rewards outweigh the potential losses. Thus, you take calculated risks to move ahead in life. And it’s very much the same with raising money.
5 Ways to Find Your Capital Campaign Courage
Here are five ways to find your courage to face the challenges your campaign will bring in the New Year.
1. Inhale deeply
Whenever you find yourself gripped by any fear or anxiety, take deep breaths and find your calm.
When you’re afraid, your heart rate and breathing quicken. Remind yourself to breath slowly to help rein in those anxious thoughts. Once you’ve calmed down, you’ll be in a better state to weigh your decisions and take smarter actions as a result.
2. Take baby steps
Sometimes you need to be brave one step at a time. Try a Mini-Campaign before heading into a major capital campaign. There’s no need to leap without looking. If you’ve never raised a major gift before, you may want to hold off on plunging into a major campaign. Instead, take your fundraising a little slower and start smaller.
At the Toolkit, we offer an 8-week boot camp to teach you how to conduct a Mini-Campaign to raise $100K (or more). That could be the perfect first step.
3. Plan in reverse
Make a reverse timeline. Imagine what the finish line looks like. Then consider the various steps you’ll need to get there, as well as the milestones you’ll celebrate along the way. Sometimes it’s less scary to reverse-engineer a big project.
For a capital campaign, it’s even easier. There’s a distinct timeline to follow. Check out or Ultimate Campaign Guide (updated for 2022) to learn more about the capital campaign process and timeline.
4. Break it down
A huge project is always more manageable in smaller chunks. While a campaign — as a whole — is overwhelming, each step of the process is not. The Capital Campaign Toolkit provides a step-by-step process, which breaks campaigns down into seven phases, and each phase is further broken down into manageable steps. So staff and volunteers know what comes next each step of the way.
5. Put your fear in perspective
Fear is relative. Are you literally jumping off a bridge or putting your life in danger? What’s the worst that could happen? You don’t raise the money…? You get fired…? These are not generally life-ending circumstances. And you can survive those worst-case scenarios. In fact, it’s much more likely that you’ll raise most (if not all) of the money.
Release Your Fear and Grow
Acknowledge your fear and release it. I’ve found this is truly the best way to grow and get what you want out of life.
A successful capital campaign is a huge undertaking. But you can do it! What’s more, you’re not alone. Here at the Toolkit, we can provide you with the tools, resources, guidance, and structure you need to ensure your campaign is a roaring success.
Click here to learn more and join hundreds of nonprofit leaders who are leading successful campaigns with the Capital Campaign Toolkit.