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Many questions surround a capital campaign, and it’s important to find the right answers so you can keep your campaign on solid ground.

Two Big Capital Campaign Questions and Their Answers

Here are the answers to two of the capital campaign questions we get asked most frequently at Capital Campaign Toolkit.

  • Where do capital campaigns get stuck?
  • What’s the one piece of advice you would give someone contemplating a campaign?

We went directly to our CCT campaign advisors for answers.

Where Do Capital Campaigns Get Stuck?

Inadequate Staffing to Support Volunteers

Volunteers are the lifeblood of your campaign. You can’t have a successful campaign without them. But if you don’t have the staff to support your volunteers, they won’t be effective.

Paula Peter explains, “Campaigns get stuck when staffing is inadequate to effectively support the volunteers who are tasked with campaign asks. We often hear frustration that volunteers aren’t following through, but it almost always comes back to how well we equip and inspire them to act effectively.”

If you notice your volunteers need a jumpstart, we recommend this one simple exercise.

Stakeholders Lose Interest

Xan Blake says, “Campaigns can get stuck at any point key stakeholders lose interest or the will to push forward.”

This often happens when your campaign drags on. Sometimes with the best laid plans, things take longer than you thought they would. When that happens, you’ve got to communicate with your key stakeholders to let them know what’s going on, involve them in work that will keep their enthusiasm and energy high.

The Last Handful of Gifts are the Most Difficult to Get

While campaigns can hit roadblocks at any time, Jeff Hensley sees it most often when the finish line is in sight. The last handful of gifts — the last million of a $10M campaign for example — can be the hardest gifts to get. He sees donors become fatigued, and campaigners become exhausted.

How do you get unstuck in this situation?

Hensley says, “Creativity, crescendo, and celebration. You need to creatively rethink the way you are communicating with your donors. Build that communication to a crescendo and challenge your best supporters to dig deeper and be the heroes of the campaign by giving a second, and third gift.”

He also urges people to “celebrate accomplishments, wherever you reach a milestone, by thanking donors for their immense generosity.” Thanking carves out deeper relationships. And often deeper relationships lead to additional giving.

What is One Piece of Advice for a New Capital Campaign?

The Right Leadership is Everything

Instead of rushing to recruit campaign leaders, Paula Peter, a campaign consultant since 1991, urges organizations to do some kind of feasibility work in advance. She says:

Campaign leaders need to inspire confidence, set the example for giving and be influencers. You don’t always know who the right leaders are until you’ve gathered external perspectives.

Prepare Your Board and Staff Before Launching a Campaign

Xan Blake, with 25 years of nonprofit management experience, has this to say:

Pre-campaign planning is probably the most crucial part of the campaign and it is often overlooked. As the old saying goes, ‘A goal without a plan is simply a wish!’

Have a Very Clear and Compelling Reason to Have a Campaign

Jeff Hensley, who has over 20 years of fundraising experience, says:

When starting a capital campaign, organizations must be able to answer this question — What positive impact will the additional resources raised through the campaign have on our community? And if you can’t answer that question, you shouldn’t be having a campaign!

Hensley points out that anniversaries, though worthy of celebration, aren’t reason enough to launch into a capital campaign. He warns that desperation will not work either. It doesn’t instill the confidence a donor needs to contribute when you are just trying to “keep the lights on.”

Instead, Hensley explains that “people give to causes, ideas, organizations, and people they believe in, that inspire them, that bring about measurable, positive impact in their communities.”

Meet the Capital Campaign Toolkit Advisors

In truth, most people leading capital campaigns are doing it for the very first time.

Our campaign advisors have extensive capital campaign experience. They bring valuable insight and a depth of experience to all Toolkit clients.

Tapping into the experience of those who have seen the opportunities and challenges of many a campaign is invaluable. If you want expert advice to get you revved up, apply for a free strategy session with one of our campaign experts.

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