Some campaigns just seem destined for success. One thing after another goes well. For example:

  • Right off the bat, board members agree on what the campaign is going to raise money for.
  • Excellent people agree to serve in leadership roles.
  • The case for support practically writes itself.
  • A few big gifts come in early.
  • And more often than not, when people are asked to help, they happily agree to do so.

When that sort of magic happens, while the capital campaign still isn’t easy, it has a flow and energy and excitement to it that makes success seem inevitable.

If you weren’t paying close attention, you might imagine that that kind of campaign success is simply good fortune. In reality, organizations that appear “lucky” have invested time and energy (and resources) in getting ready for their campaign.

4 Free Assessments to Help Predict Your Capital Campaign Success

At the Capital Campaign Toolkit, we have developed four assessment tools to help you determine whether you are campaign-ready. (See each section of this post for downloads.) And, of course, the more ready you are, the more likely you are to have a successful campaign.

Quick Links — There’s a great deal to know about preparing for a capital campaign. We’ll jump-start your understanding of this important topic in the sections below:

The first three of these assessments look at specific and important aspects of your organization’s operation, while the fourth is more of a general readiness assessment that zooms out on the bigger picture.

Let’s get started!

Assess the Capital Campaign Readiness of Your Development Office

Assess the Campaign Readiness of Your Development Office

A well-organized, high-functioning development office is critical to running a smooth campaign.

  • You need easy access to donor records and reports.
  • You’ve got to be able to capture campaign gifts and pledges accurately.
  • You’ve got to be able to communicate in a timely way with your prospects and donors.
  • And when the rigors of a campaign begin, the systems to make all of that happen should be so smooth that you barely notice the uptick in activity.

In a campaign-ready development office, staff roles are clear, systems are in place, and people are spending their time doing the things that make best use of their experience and capacity.

Get the FREE Development Office Readiness Assessment

Learn how prepared your development office is and take a closer look your capacity. This comprehensive assessment will help you and your staff evaluate your development office’s campaign readiness in 17 critical areas.

DOWNLOAD:  Development Office Readiness Assessment »

Before you head into a campaign, take a close look at how well your development office functions. Here are a few of the 17 critical areas we select to review:

Is Your Board Ready for a Capital Campaign?

Is Your Board Ready for a Capital Campaign?

It’s one thing for you to try to figure out if your board is ready for a campaign. But it’s far more powerful and appropriate for your board members themselves to take a look at how they function and whether they are ready.

The Board Self-Assessment we developed is designed to ask each of your board members to evaluate the function of the board on nine topics ranging from something as simple as whether board members attend meetings to something as potentially complicated as whether every board member makes a financial contribution.

Get the FREE Board Readiness Assessment

By inviting every board member to fill out this simple assessment form and then collating their answers, you will have a wonderful basis for a serious conversation about whether your board is up to the task of a capital campaign.

DOWNLOAD:  Board Campaign Readiness Assessment »

In our experience, boards seldom look at themselves and evaluate how they function. This role would ideally be undertaken by the Governance Committee. But if your organization is heading toward a campaign, the board chair or development chair might play a more active role in encouraging the board to assess its campaign readiness.

Do You Have the Systems and Technology In Place for a Successful Campaign?

Do You Have the Systems and Technology In Place for a Successful Campaign?

Systems and technology are often overlooked in the run up to a campaign, but they are critical to your success. In the Systems and Technology assessment, we ask organizations to evaluate their capacity and readiness in these key areas:

  • Communications
  • Donor Relations Management
  • File Storage
  • Development Office Operations
  • Security
  • Telecom systems
  • Training processes
  • Website

Get the FREE Systems & Technology Readiness Assessment

Find out if your systems can handle a campaign and discover what technology you’ll need in place for your campaign. In addition, learn what you need to improve BEFORE your campaign starts.

DOWNLOAD:  Systems & Technology Readiness Assessment »

When development staff complete this assessment, they often think more clearly about the systems they usually take for granted. Reviewing them in some detail helps determine which systems might be upgraded or improved in the run up to a campaign.

Overall Campaign Readiness Assessment

Overall Capital Campaign Readiness Assessment

Finally, whether or not you carefully evaluate your development function, your systems and technology and your board readiness, a more general assessment of your campaign readiness will give you an excellent start on preparing for a campaign!

Get the FREE Overall Campaign Readiness Assessment

Download this free guide on campaign readiness. The assessment contained within will give you a simple way to get your board and staff to evaluate your organization’s overall readiness in six primary areas, including volunteer leadership, planning, and your case for support.

DOWNLOAD:  Capital Campaign Readiness Assessment »

By distributing the assessment to board and staff members and then collating their results, you will get a clear picture of where you are strongest and what areas you should focus your attention to get better prepared.

“Lucky” Campaigns Require Effective Preparation

When you hear about a campaign in your community that seems to have all the “luck,” remember that their good fortune likely stems from the work they did in advance of the campaign to get ready.

If a campaign is in your future, you should start getting ready right now by assessing your strengths and weaknesses. It doesn’t cost you anything other than time. Download one or more of the assessments linked above to begin planning and preparing for a successful capital campaign.

Lastly, if you have any questions, apply for a free strategy session — our campaign experts are here to help!


  1. Derry Deringer

    Can you provide context for this line item in the Campaign Readiness Assessment given that campaigns can range from $100,000 to $1 billion?

    Our board members will be able to fund 15-30% of the total goal.

    • Andrea Kihlstedt

      Thanks for your question, Derry. By and large, the bigger the organization and its campaign, the more capacity the board should have. That said, many of the billion+ campaigns are aggregates of multiple smaller campaigns within the same institution. The board structures for those large, complex institutions are more complex too.

      The reason for including that question in the assessment is to highlight the importance of serious board commitment within the context of what is possible.


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