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Season 2, Episode 15

Fundraising experts Amy and Andrea discuss the capital campaign questions every board member wants answers to. Where’s the money going to come from? How much will they have to give? What’s going to be expected of them? And many more important questions facing every nonprofit board member as they consider a capital campaign. Download our favorite resource on the topic: “A Board Member’s Guide to Capital Campaign Fundraising

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This episode was recorded as part of a live webinar held Monday, November 22, 2021. To participate in future webinars, register at ToolkitTalks.com.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
I’m so excited to have board members with us today. We’ve got a lot of things we’re thinking… Think about board members and capital campaigns, it’s so important. I’m also excited that our Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States is happening this week. It always puts me in a good mood when I think about giving thanks.

Amy Eisenstein:
Yes, we probably should have been focusing on gratitude today, but all of our posts, everybody’s talking about gratitude. Today, we’re talking about board members and capital campaigns, and we are grateful for board members and for having you here with us today. All right, so Andrea, while people to put their questions in the chat, why don’t you kick us off with some of the most frequent questions that board members ask us as capital campaign consultants, or the hot topics? What do you want to start with?

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Yes. I want to start with the topic that I think is on the mind of most every board member, when they start thinking about a capital campaign, and I’m not sure that many of them actually pose it, because it’s a little bit embarrassing to pose. But I think the question that I have as a board member, and that most every board member has when they’re thinking about a campaign, is how much money will I have to give?

How Much Are Board Members Expected to Give to a Campaign?

Amy Eisenstein:
That is the number one question. How much do I have to give?

Andrea Kihlstedt:
How much do I have to give, how much is expected of me? How much should I give? How much do I want to give? All of a sudden my organization is doing a $10 million campaign or a $20 million, is doing a campaign bigger than anything we’ve ever done before. You look around the board table and you know that not everyone around that board table is wealthy, and you wonder, on one hand, where is the money going to come from? Then you say, well, and how much of it’s going to come from us, and specifically how much of it’s got to come from me?

I think those are really important, important questions for every board and every board member to take seriously, and to actually talk about. This is not rocket science. It’s not magic. Let me start by saying that there is no percentage of the campaign goal that should come from the board for every campaign. We often get that question. What percentage of the goal should come from the board? Of course, the reality is that it depends. It depends on what kind of a board you have, depends on what kind of an organization you have. Has your board specifically been put together to be a funding board, only comprised, or largely comprised of people with great wealth?

For example, here in New York City, I would imagine the Metropolitan Opera where I went last night, mind you, it probably has a pretty wealthy board. People are brought onto that board because, in large part, they have significant wealth. When it comes to a capital campaign, those people, you can expect that they’re not just going to give a little fraction of the campaign goal because of the way the board has been constituted. On the other hand, if you take a boys and girls club perhaps, or a humane league or any other kind of organization, a small arts organization, it’s likely that those boards have not been put together primarily because of the wealth of the board members.

They’ve been put together in part to reflect the nature of the mission and what it is they do. Particularly these days, people are paying much more attention to diversity and equity in board representation. You’re not going to go to the board for 20 or 30 or 40% of the campaign goal. You have to look carefully at what kind of a board you are before you can answer the question what percentage of the goal should come from the board. In my experience, in our experience, it is unusual for a board to give under 10% and unusual for a board to give more for a community based organization’s board, not put together for its wealth, it’s unusual for them to give more than 30% of the campaign goal.

That’s a pretty big, big range, but at least it gives you a starting place to think about. It is important that every board member understand, going into a campaign, that they will be asked for a financial commitment to that campaign, that in order to serve on a board, you need to be willing to make some kind of a financial commitment and it needs to be in the context of what you have the capacity to do. It should be a personally significant and meaningful gift that you would make to the campaign. Often campaigns raise money, whereas the donor can pledge their gift out, the payment of their gift out over three years. Board members can often increase the amount of money that they can give because they can make a pledge over a multiple year period. What have I left out of that, Amy?

Amy Eisenstein:
Yeah, I think the important thing to remember is there’s two ways to think about board giving, and Andrea has alluded to both of them. One is, what is the board going to do collectively as a whole? Will the board be able to give 10%, 20%, 30%, 40% of the campaign goal, and maybe the board itself would set a goal to give collectively. Then the question is what do individual board members do as individuals? I think that often it is the first time that board members are asked to make a significant campaign gift. They will be thinking about a gift that’s bigger than their regular annual fund gift, or over and above their annual fund gift.

It’s often the first time that board members are asked to think about making gifts from assets or a planned gift. You may want to frame the conversation in that way, is what kind of gift can board members think about making that are significant, and significant is different to everybody. Everybody individually decides what is significant and meaningful for them. Often we ask board members to think about making this organization and the campaign, while they’re in the campaign, their number one priority for three years.

Maybe they give to lots of different charities, but for the three years that your organization is in a campaign, they would give significantly more to your organization for the duration of that campaign. All right. What other questions or hot topics do board… What else is the most frequently asked question, Andrea?

Should Board Members Ask for Campaign Gifts?

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Yes. Here’s a good one for you, Amy. Will I have to ask gifts?

Amy Eisenstein:
Yes. Good question.

And, so what do we think? What do you say?

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Well, I think not every board member has to ask for gifts. I think if you are constitutionally just unable to get yourself to ask for gifts, if it is too uncomfortable for you, there are many ways that board members can help with the fundraising process that are not asking for gifts. Asking for gifts is one way board members can help. We have learned over a long trial and error, that when you try to push someone, anyone, board member or otherwise, to ask for gifts and they are just so uncomfortable, they tend not to do a good job.

I think the idea is to spend some time working with your board to figure out what are the roles that board members can play in the campaign process and put the people who are most suited to actually asking for gifts in those roles, and get others to help with stewardship or identifying prospects, or hosting small events, or helping with cultivation events. There are many other things board members can do. Now, for someone who is a little nervous about asking for money, but who is willing and could do a good job, I would encourage you to do that. I don’t want to let everybody off the hook just because it makes you a little anxious. It makes everybody a little anxious. I just want to let off the hook the people that are just totally —

Amy Eisenstein:
Terrified.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Terrified it’s the right word. It’s just a bad way to go.

Amy Eisenstein:
Yes. The key is that every single board member is helping with fundraising and the campaign in some way. That doesn’t mean asking for everybody. We do want to train our board members and our campaign committee members to help with asking. Hopefully everybody will rise to the occasion and get better at it. They’re going to be some board members who are going to play other roles, like making introductions, cultivating, stewarding, and not ultimately everybody’s going to ask. All right, we’ve got a lot of questions coming into the Q&A box now. Ellie, if I could ask you, do open up the Q&A box. Sometimes the chat goes by so quickly. I don’t want to miss your questions. If you could add them to the Q&A box, that would be helpful. Otherwise, we will try and catch them. All right, let’s go ahead and start with Hailey’s question here. She says, it’s a newbie question, but my guess is that if you have the question, lots of people have the question, so don’t worry about if it’s a newbie or an oldie, or whatever kind of question.

The question is, if board members make phone calls to donors, do they typically have access to the database to record those calls, or do they just send notes to the development office to input? I would open that up to the community here and ask what you do. In the chat box, do you give board members who are making phone calls, access to your database? But Haley in my experience, most board members do not have access to the database and you probably don’t want them to, unless they have some sort of special login that they can’t change any of the key data points, but only can add notes.

If there’s some serious restrictions, you might give a few key board members access, but I think for the vast majority, as we’re seeing in the chat, everybody who has responded says, “No, we don’t give board members access,” and I think that that is right. All right, let’s see, the next question here. Somebody anonymously is asking a colleague just had the experience of a saying that he wants to give to the capital campaign for the next few years, instead of annual. What are our tips for getting both? Or how do we respond to that? Andrea, what do you say to that?

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Yes. I have a couple of things to say, first of all, every campaign should have a set of policies. Campaign policies are important and there are many things that get mapped out in campaign policies that you can then refer to. One thing is when does the campaign start and when does the campaign stop? How are you going to count gifts? I mean, there are lots of things that get covered in that, and this issue of annual gift versus capital campaigns can also be covered in that. You could have, as one of your policies, that donors will be asked to continue with their annual funding gift as a priority through the campaign period, and then any additional gift they make should be considered over and above their annual giving. You can actually cover that in campaign policies.

Then if a donor says, “Gee, I want to give to the campaign, but I’m going to stop giving to our annual fund,” what you want to say to them is, “Listen, in our policies, because the annual operating support is so important, our policies say that any gift given to the capital campaign will, first out of that will come annual support and the rest will be counted towards the campaign.” You can set it up in advance. What I would rather you did… and I think that’s a good idea, by the way. What I would rather you did, however, is as you talk to donors, tell them quite explicitly that it is important that the capital campaign not take the place of annual contributions, and that the organization is committed to doing that so that while you hope that they will give a capital campaign gift, that you would like first to count on them for their annual support. A huge percentage of donors will do that.

Annual Gifts vs. Campaign Gifts from Board Members

Amy Eisenstein:
Excellent. I think that’s exactly right. You need to talk about both and I think that Lanny’s question who… or Laney’s question, who’s next, says along the same lines, how do you balance asking for annual legacy capital gifts from the same donors on the board? I would add all donors, not just on the board. But it think it is in how you talk with your donors about the different needs of the organization and the needs that each of those funds and campaigns are filling. You say annual fund is what keeps us going from day to day, week to week, month to month, and keeps our doors open. We need that first and foremost.

Capital is the thing that’s going to get us to the next level of program and service, and really transform this organization. It’s a onetime ask over a three year period, and we will not ask you for this kind of big, super-sized gift again. This is a onetime ask over and above the annual gift. Then legacy, of course, ensures that we are here for generations to come, fulfilling the mission. I think it’s perfectly appropriate and important to have that conversation with all of your donors. Going back to the last person’s question, if your board members don’t understand the need for annual fund or are unable to distinguish between annual needs and capital needs, I would say that you’re not explaining it well, and you’re not communicating well, and that’s going to be a problem for lots of donors.

Now, of course, there are going to be the occasional stubborn donor who just insist that they don’t want to give to the annual fund and they only want to give to the capital. Depending what’s in your policies, you may decide to honor that. It’ll guide how hard you push back. Every once in a while, you’re going to have some donors that say, “This is just going to the capital fund.” Honestly, it’s probably because they want some level of recognition or something like that, but for the most part, people understand and will do both annual and capital, and legacy all at the same time.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Yes. One of the organization I’ve been working with came up with a very interesting way of handling this, and for all of the larger donors, I mean, I don’t know if it was the top 10% of the donors to the campaign or something, they created what they called an investment portfolio for each of those donors that summarized the totality of their giving. At the top, it said, “We have appreciated every one of your gifts since your first gift in 2008,” or whenever the donor started giving. Then it showed how many gifts they had made to the annual support and in the last five years perhaps, and how many gifts they had made to capital.

And it actually listed them out. It was very easy for a donor to be able to see that giving to both sides was important and they were both investments in the organization. Thought that was a clever and smart idea. Gave them all a chance to really talk to their… and I think also had a… if somebody had made a planned gift of some sort, or made a legacy gift, it also listed that. They thought about it as an investment portfolio, the donor’s investment in their organization. It was smart. You might want to think about that.

Figuring Out the Board’s Campaign Goal

Amy Eisenstein:
That’s interesting. All right. I just want to remind everybody who’s posting questions in the chat, please post them in the Q&A box instead of in the chat, because the chat sometimes goes by so quickly that we can’t follow it. Please put your specific questions in the Q&A box. All right. John’s asking, do we rate board members and ask for a specific gift? The answer is yes, John. I don’t exactly know what you’re referring to by rate, but I’m assuming that you are trying to guesstimate what they can give, and absolutely, you should be doing screening analysis, whether it’s formal or a little less formal, and determining a very specific ask amount.

If you are asking anybody for an unspecified campaign gift, they are going to give drastically lower than you hope, and that you’re are looking for. If I ask you to consider a gift of $10,000, then you have a sense of what ballpark I’m looking for. If I ask you to give a gift to the campaign, you may turn around with a $200 gift and you have no idea what I’m asking for, and we’re not on the same page. Andrea, you want to say anything else about that or ask…

Andrea Kihlstedt:
No, I think it’s really important. A couple other things to add to that. First of all, I think that it’s important that the board be involved in figuring out what the board’s campaign goal should be. The staff shouldn’t come up… and first of all, the board should have a goal, a financial goal for the campaign for itself, and the board members should be involved in figuring that out. One way to do that is to have a small group of board members actually spend some time reviewing every board member and coming up with a rating, with a low and a high potential for their giving, and then adding up the low and the high.

And then going to the board and saying, “A few of us tried to get an estimate of what might be possible from this board, and we really did try to estimate for everybody. It seems to us that it’s possible that it would be between this and that. Here’s what that would look like.” I think we shouldn’t shy away from having a conversation about it. There are a variety of other ways to do that as well, but it’s a great question and an important question, and you don’t want to just say to every board member, “Well, make a gift,” and you don’t even want to just say to every board member, “Would you consider this amount of gift?”

You want to say, “The board has voted to establish a campaign goal for itself of so and so much. Now we hope you, the board member, will consider giving X number of dollars towards this board goal,” but you have to do it carefully and thoughtfully. It’s a complicated process, actually. Okay.

Amy Eisenstein:
I got distracted by background noise. Did you talk about Kimberly’s question or was that a different question? Otherwise I’m going to…

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Haven’t done that yet. Let me try that one. How do you figure out your goal? If your goal was how much you need, what do you do when you fall short of the cash need due to multiple year pledges? You needed, let’s say, $10 million, but you gave your donors the option to pledge over three years. I’m just going to make this simple. You get to your fundraising goal, but it turns out that you need $8 of that $10 million in the first year, and you’re not going to bring it in because people pledged over a period of time. The rest of the money isn’t going to come in in time to pay your bills. That’s a fairly common phenomenon.

The way organizations do it is that they talk to their local banker and say, “We need a bridge loan to carry us, and to be able to pay for the construction between the time the building is being built and when the rest of the pledges come in. If your largest pledges come from people who are pretty credible in the community, and you have a good banking relationship, there’s a good chance that you can get a bridge loan to cover that and pay it back out of pledges as they are paid. It’s a common strategy for capital campaigns, so don’t panic. Go talk to your local banker. Hopefully he or she is on your board.

Understanding Operating Costs

Amy Eisenstein:
All right. Ellie’s asking, how can you ensure ongoing operating costs are truly understood? Ellie, I think that’s something that’s a challenge that the whole sector faces, but you want to sit down with a group of volunteers, key board members, key staff members, and talk about what is our core mission and what is the core case for support? Because that’s how you can talk about operating costs. Operating is about your day to day activity and your ongoing programs and services. I don’t want people to get too lost in the administrative costs. That’s what everybody thinks of.

To me, ongoing operating costs are paying your teachers, your social workers, the primary program team, all of your operating costs. Articulating what your organization does is how you ensure that ongoing operating costs are understood. Let’s see. Your next question. Ellie’s also asking about redirecting donors who ask about earmarks or government funding versus capital campaign. I think the important thing to talk about in any fundraising event is to talk about the key differences between whatever government pays for, whatever fees for service might pay for and what donations pay for.

Donations often pay for things that are over and above revenue, earned revenue, earned income, government funding. Being able to really articulate what role do donors play, what role do donations play in your organization, and it may take a few sessions sitting down with your finance person, your accountant, your Director of Development, your CEO, and hashing it out and coming up with some really articulate talking points.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Amy, I want to skip down to the bottom of the questions because Carly’s question really relates back to this question of board goals, board giving goals. I want to handle that before we forget. Carly, thank you for this question. She’s asked, is it too forward to ask board members to identify which giving range they see themselves in on a gift range charge related to their ability to give? I actually have done a lot of work on that. Carly. What I have encouraged organizations do is at a board meeting to actually put the what amounts to the gift range chart on a table in the front of the room and have that indicate which levels of giving will be an A, or a B, or a C. Put an alphabet, or you can just use the gift range chart itself.

You hand out index cards and get board members to indicate on the index card where they might give to put an A, B or a C, or to put down a range, and then collect them. Board members don’t have to put their names down if they don’t wish, but if you do that and you collect them, and you actually add up what board members tell you, it’s going to give you a very good self-assessment of what the board might give. I think that I’ve seen that work incredibly well. Of course, you have to add to that the people who were not at the board meeting. You have to make assessments for the people who weren’t there to get a clear picture, but I think it’s a perfectly good thing to do, and board members then feel as though you have taken their realities into consideration, which is a very good thing to do.

Recruiting the Right Campaign Volunteers from Your Board

Amy Eisenstein:
All right. Amy is asking a good question, and Amy, I want you to push back against your Executive Director. Amy says, “I’m a newbie Development Director and will be giving a presentation to our board next week on the capital campaign. The CEO would like me to get at least two board members to volunteer to joining the campaign committee. Quick tips you’re looking for, for getting board members to help.”

I have to tell you, this is not the right strategy, because you know what’s going to happen? Two board members are going to volunteer who you don’t want to be on that campaign committee, or to help. This is a problem… It’s a widespread problem. You are not alone. Unfortunately, a lot of volunteer boards get their leadership, board presidents, vice presidents, secretary, treasurer, committee chairs, in this way, by saying to the group, “Who wants to volunteer? Who wants to help?” That gets you exactly the wrong person.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Amy, I’m not sure that’s what Amy has said here, Amy Eisenstein.

Amy Eisenstein:
Okay, go ahead.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Amy has said… I’m not sure her instruction is that she has to get those people out at the meeting. She just has to be inspiring enough so that after the meeting, she can go to people and they will… well, it doesn’t make any difference. I totally agree with you, Amy. You never want to recruit people publicly because you don’t… you want to recruit the very best people and you don’t want the people you don’t want to say yes, to raise their hand. That’s super important throughout your campaign.

Amy Lipka, the other part of your question, I think, is how do you give a clear presentation in 15 minutes that will make board members want to be part of the campaign, whether you do it then or recruit them later. I think the simple answer to that question, Amy, particularly because you’re a newbie, and you can’t pretend. You’re a newbie and you haven’t done a campaign. You can’t pretend that you’re a campaign expert. It won’t be credible, but you can talk about the resources that you are going to get to help make sure the campaign will be successful.

You can talk about the steps forward and the timeline that you’ve put out there to work on this campaign. You can talk about the research that you have been doing and what kinds of support you will have to make sure that the campaign is done effectively and well. You need to make people feel confident. People will say yes to you when they feel confident that the campaign is going to be successful. That’s your job in your presentation that you know how you were going to function to get the support that you need and to get the organization the support it needs to have a successful campaign.

Amy Eisenstein:
Okay. The only thing that I would add to that, and thank you for jumping in, Andrea, is that, one, if you’re looking for resources to help you figure out some of the steps in a campaign, you should go to the Capital Campaign Toolkit website and download our checklist and campaign guide, so that you are able to articulate what’s coming up and what you see as the steps. We give that away. It’s right on the homepage of our website. Anybody who’s looking for a step by step guide to a capital campaign, you can go ahead and download that, so you have a sense of what’s coming, what you should be doing, what’s coming next. But just to finish my thought, in case Amy’s CEO is looking for volunteers at the meeting, which I suspect she may be.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Maybe.

Amy Eisenstein:
You want to brainstorm in advance, “Who would we like to invite to serve on this campaign committee? Who do we want in leadership positions?” You should be talking to those people individually, either before or after the meeting and not looking for people to raise their hand at the meeting for any specific roles. Let’s leave it at that.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Right. But of course, Amy, that is the clever way to do it. If she’s supposed to get people to volunteer during the meeting. If she picks the two she wants beforehand, and she says, “Listen, I’m going to ask for volunteers, won’t you please shoot your hands up in the air?” Right?

Amy Eisenstein:
Yeah.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
You have to set up who it is you want. You have to set them up to raise their hands quick, and then say you only have room for two.

Amy Eisenstein:
Yeah. All right. Somebody’s asking about sample campaign policies and any resources. Of course we provide sample campaign policies and templates in the Toolkit for paying toolkit members. Andrea, are there any free resources that you know of that people can dig up off the internet? I would imagine there are we can’t —

Andrea Kihlstedt:
I’m sure there are.

Amy Eisenstein:
If you haven’t Googled campaign policies we may even have blog posts about campaign policies.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
I think there are. If you can’t find them on Capital Campaign Toolkit, go to capitalcampaignmasters.com. I’ve written years of stuff there in that blog. There probably are some things on campaign policies there. Take a look at capitalcampaignmasters.com, if you can’t find them on the toolkit blog. Let’s see. Please talk about capacity campaign that is transforming services with equity. Regular annual support continues. Nancy. I’m not quite sure I understand your question here. I wonder if you can write in a little… Amy, are you clear about the question? Do you want to start it? I’m a little confused about it.

On Capacity Campaigns

Amy Eisenstein:
I think we’ve talked a lot about the making sure that your annual fund support continues while you’re raising campaign gifts. That’s the second part of the question. We can start talking about capacity campaign.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Capacity campaign is for transforming the services with equity.

Amy Eisenstein:
Yes.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
I suppose what I would translate from that is you want to raise some money in order to make it possible to do a better job of recruiting people and engaging people. A diversely represented people to serve in various capacities in your organization. It’s a little hard for me to understand how you would tie a fundraising project into that, but maybe I’m just being shortsighted about it.

Amy Eisenstein:
Well, I actually was hearing a about somebody’s campaign the other day, and part of their capacity campaign was increasing their human resources capacity. They were getting consulting help on writing equitable HR policies. They were getting more training-

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Yeah. I would agree. Right.

Amy Eisenstein:
Right. Training for their whole team. They were raising money so that their team could be trained in diversity equity inclusion. I think that that’s actually a very on trend topic right now, and there is money available for that. You just need to write your case for support, just like any other case you would be writing. I think that expanding your diversity, equity and inclusion policies, practices, procedures is something that people would fund. Hopefully that answers the question, Nancy. If not, feel free to expand.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Amy, I have to answer Susan, I haven’t blurred my screen now and so somebody has caught me out here and wondering what the graphic on the wall behind me behind me is. I got to say, I really love it. The answer is that my grandchildren were here recently, and I give them markers and crayons to draw on my glass wall. Then I just get enamored of what they’ve drawn so I leave it there. That’s what it is. It’s not a campaign… Maybe it would be an interesting campaign diagram, but it’s not. It’s my little eight year old.

Amy Eisenstein:
Excellent. All right. It’s always fun to let people peek into our homes and offices right Andrea? Everybody gets a sneak peek. All right. Alrighty, Lorraine… If there are board members, we specifically invited board members and encouraged board members to come on this call. If you have any questions, do feel free to type them into the Q&A box. You can write to us anonymously if you want to. This is a totally judgment free zone. We hope it’s always a judgment free zone. We may tell you when we disagree, but we do try and be as encouraging as possible. Really there’s no question that you’re going to ask that we haven’t heard before. All right.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Amy, I want you to talk about Lorraine’s question, but I wanted to answer George’s question.

Amy Eisenstein:
Okay, go ahead.

Preparing Board Members Well in Advance of a Campaign

Andrea Kihlstedt:
George says we’re two years plus away from beginning a campaign, what’s the best way or ways to begin prepping our board members for a project that far in the future? George, your question is just played into my hands because really one of my very favorite things to think about is that capital campaigns start long before capital campaigns start. That the most effective time to actually lay the groundwork for a campaign is starting about two years before the campaign, because there is no better way to involve and engage people in a real way than in the planning process for your project, for whatever it is you’re going to raise the money for.

If you take that seriously, you can not only involve board members seriously in that planning process and in helping to write things and shape the case and say, “Why is this important? And what are the benefits?” But you can go to the people in your community who are likely to be the largest donors to your campaign, and you can involve them in planning as well. You can have ad hoc planning groups that come together and to review ideas. Let’s say the organization is looking at two or three different alternatives, that’s wonderful way to pull in some board members and some potential donors, and some foundation representatives, and put it out there for them. Say, we might do this and we might do that.

Here’s what we’re considering. Give us your input. That for me, is the real beginning of capital campaign work. Because if you do that assiduously, by the time you’re ready to actually have your campaign and start building your campaign cabinet or your steering committee, and start asking people gifts, those people will already be on board and your campaign will get a whole lot easier.

Amy Eisenstein:
I would add to that a couple of things, and I was reading comments and questions as they came in so I apologize if you already touched on this. But one of the things that we encourage people to do that are two years out from a campaign, is to do a little practice mini campaign. We hold Mini Campaign programs at the Capital Campaign Toolkit. It’s an eight week bootcamp to help you raise a hundred thousand dollars or more in eight weeks. Our next cohort will be starting in April. We’re right in the middle of one now. If you want to really get your board and donors and staff ready for a bigger campaign, you should practice with a mini campaign.

We teach you campaign strategy, you practice asking for gifts and not just practice, but actually raise money. But it will put you to the test, put the medal to the pedal. Can you go out and ask for major gifts from 20 of your biggest donors and start getting them thinking in bigger ways and really get your campaign strategy going.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Amy, I want to just say a little more about that, because I think so many organizations think that the process is that they have a strategic plan, right? Then they work like mad to get everything tied down and all the details set, and then they figure out how much is going to cost, and then they’re ready for a campaign. Then they start involving their board members and their donors. I just think that’s such a cockamamie way to think, right? That instead of thinking that you need to get everything set before you have a campaign.

You need to think about, “Gee, we have an opportunity to go and talk to a lot of people about what we’re doing, and find out what the best way forward is, and get their input through ad hoc committees and otherwise.” I just think it turns on its head the way many people think, that’s why I’m happy to ask the question, George and I’m happy to lean on it for a second for a second.

Event Ticket Revenue as Donations

Amy Eisenstein:
All right. You mentioned Lorraine’s question and then she posted a follow up expansion question. Lorraine’s saying, what about donors who also purchased tickets to events earned revenue that provide benefit to them? My question has to do with providing a cumulative investment sheet for donors. Do we want to include that they paid for tickets? There’s all sorts of tickets, right? Tickets to shows if you’re a theater, that would be earned income. Because you say events, I’m a little confused.

Maybe a fundraising event, and hopefully a chunk of that ticket would be considered a donation, it’s not the cost of the dinner, whatever it is. But think about it from the donor’s perspective. They think of that as a contribution, right? Maybe not a ticket to a show, but certainly a ticket to a gala or a silent auction donation or contribution.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Well, even a ticket to a show. Honestly, I just paid $150 to a ticket to a show that I’m supposed to go to tonight. If I had bought the ticket myself, it would’ve cost me $37. The organization was gathering people together to pay a premium much of which would go to them, and then they would get a whole crew of people interested in that organization. For me, it felt like a contribution [inaudible 00:41:33].

Amy Eisenstein:
It’s important Lorraine that you list out all the financial interactions that they make with the organization. You may label certain ones, this much is tax deductible and this much is not, but you would want to reflect all that they have given to the organization as you think about speaking with them. All right, whose question are you reading Andrea? You want-

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Nancy’s. Our capital campaign will begin in six months for expanded services as we received $500,000 grant for 18 months, then that $500,000 will go away. We will want to maintain those expanded services. Yes. Here’s… you’re really talking about raising money to get an infusion of cash into your organization so that you can start a new program or expand your program for a period of time. During which you’re going to have to work like mad to expand your annual operating budget so that when that money is gone, you cover those expenses another way. You do not want to start the program because you have money and then end the program.

You need to think about creating a sustainable income stream while you are spending down their money. If I were you, I would look at that $500,000 and I would look to spend it in uneven amounts over time. You’re going to spend more of it up front and then less and less of it as you go so that you can pick up the deficit by expanding your annual operating funds. You can’t go from grant to grant for these things. You have to have sustainable income for them. You have to plan that way financially. Does that make sense, Amy?

Amy Eisenstein:
Yes, absolutely. All right. Based on a previous question, Anne is responding. I can’t member who asked. Based on our current experience, she says, if you’re two years out, please take the time now to clean up your donor database. It’s a painful time consuming lesson. I think I’m actually going to post in the chat, if you want to figure out if you’re ready for a campaign, we have an assessment tool that helps you figure out where your strengths and weaknesses are. If you’re one or two or three years out from a campaign, you can do exactly as Anne suggesting clean up your donor database. It’s at capitalcampaigntoolkit.com/assess (A-S-S-E-S-S). You will be able to take an assessment of, are you ready for a capital campaign, and know what you need to do to get ready for that? Thank you, Anne, for pointing that out. All right, so…

How to Boost Board Member Confidence

Andrea Kihlstedt:
How do you help boost the asking confidence of board members? We have a number that wanted to help, but are afraid of doing it wrong and are hesitant to step up as a result. There’s a really simple answer. It’s one word, training, training —

Amy Eisenstein:
And practice.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
…and practice. People aren’t born knowing how to ask for money well, even people who are comfortable doing it, usually don’t know how to do it very well. It’s a learned skill like most. Sometimes people really don’t really get poor training or no training. And we have learned at the Capital Campaign Toolkit that it really is possible. They have very good solicitation trainings virtually. You can do a good solicitation training over Zoom. You can do it for in an hour and a half. You can do it in three hours. You can use the Zoom rooms and that people do get better at it. Once they have a sense of how to go about doing it, then they can practice and they gradually build their confidence once they actually know what they’re doing.

Amy Eisenstein:
All right. Let me add a couple of things to that, because I think this is a really important question. It has taken us years to get down, I would go so far as to perfect our solicitation training over Zoom. I think anybody who you’re putting in charge of a solicitation training over Zoom, you want to make sure that they have lots of experience doing this. You don’t want to wing it otherwise it’s going to be a bad experience for your board members. If you’re going to do a training over Zoom or any solicitation training, make sure that the person that you’re working with or leading the training has lots of experience facilitating, and ask for references or ask for referrals from other people.

Of course we do solicitation training at the Capital Campaign Toolkit and we would be happy to facilitate that for you. Even more importantly, have your board members once they’ve been trained practice on each other. Say, “You know what? We need to now do real asks in the real world, but we’re going to ask for feedback. Have some of your key board members ask each other for gifts and then say, “How did I do?” But that was a real ask. They’re really asking for money, but they’re also practicing and asking for feedback. All right. Let’s see. Who else’s has question has caught your eye? You want to start with, if you don’t have a strategic plan going into a capital campaign, what do you do? Or is that okay?

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Yeah. Well, so you have to have some kind of plan going into a capital campaign and a strategic plan makes it sound like you have to take months and months to do it. The reality is that plans can be created in fairly short order. You don’t want your Capital Campaign to be the result of some cockamamie board member, who all of a sudden decides you should do something that they want you to do. It needs to be planful. You have to do a campaign within the planful context of your organization moving forward. Otherwise it won’t have the sense of soundness. Is that the right word? It won’t feel right if someone’s just making it up off the top of their hits.

It does need to come out of a planful process. It may be if what it is you’re doing, you would just want to bring your board or your board together to review the plan and make sure that they really are comfortable with it and are signing off on it. If you can’t do it upfront, coming up with a… having the campaign grow out of a plan, maybe you do it by looking at, “Here’s what we’re thinking about doing. Let us come together, ask our questions and make sure that we are all unified, that this is the direction we should go.” That’s an alternative if you don’t go into it with a plan. Did I miss anything again Amy?

Amy Eisenstein:
Okay. No, I think that’s fine. I do want to remind everybody that if we don’t get to your question, or if you have a question that’s fairly specific to your organization, please do go to the Capital Campaign Toolkit website and sign up to have a strategy session with us. We would be more than happy to discuss the specifics of your campaign, no strings attached, but we can’t answer everybody’s questions, but we are going to try. Sarah, I think this partially applies to you. I think you’re asking a specific question to your campaign, but let’s see if I can decode it here. I think… Send us an email or sign up for a strategy session so that we can answer your question. It seems very specific for this audience. Let’s jump… Maybe Nancy’s also.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Well, Nancy asks about the timing of a commitment from the bank I presume, for bridge funding. The board is saying until we have a commitment letter from the bank, we don’t want to start construction. Honestly, Nancy, I think they’re probably right. I think that if I were sitting on that board, I wouldn’t want to be responsible. Things do go awry now and again, so I would try to get someone on your board to speed up the process at the bank, or go to a second bank, or see if there is an individual donor who might front end some of the money. There are other ways to do it, but there is risk involved and there’s probably a fair amount of money at stake with that.

It is the board’s role to be fiscally conservative. They are the ones that are going to be left holding the bag if for some reason the loan isn’t approved and the construction company wants to be paid and there’s not enough money in the bank to pay them. Somebody’s… There may be somebody else who would give you a bridge loan until the bank comes through if you have to move forward. But hopefully it won’t be long before their commitment letter is signed.

Wrapping Up

Amy Eisenstein:
All right. Listen, I think we’re going to wrap up. To me the bottom line is that your board members… well your board as a whole and as individuals need to have confidence that you are going to be able to have a successful campaign. It is up to the staff members and keyboard leaders to provide that reassurance, that confidence, the training, the support that board members need to feel good about going into a campaign. You don’t want to be winging it. You want to have the tools and resources and knowledge and partners that will help bring the confidence to the board. Andrea, what final words of wisdom do you want to impart about board members as we wrap up today?

Andrea Kihlstedt:
I guess what I’d like to imagine is that for those of you board members on this call, I’d like you to imagine the sheer pleasure and pride that you will get once the campaign is complete and the building or whatever the project is done, and you know you had a hand in doing it, even though sometimes it was uncomfortable in the process. That you will never again drive by that building or walk into that organization and not think about what a powerful experience it was. That when people come together around a shared commitment and a shared plan to do something extraordinary, to make the world better, that that’s a rare opportunity in life.

As board members that’s what you have and I encourage you to step in and take it seriously, and do your very best to lead your organizations through what is always a little scary, a little exciting, a little daunting and in the end, totally gratifying. How’s that for a conclusion.

Amy Eisenstein:
Excellent. All right guys, thank you so much for joining us. Please join us next week and every week for our regular and ongoing toolkit talks. Bring your questions and have a happy Thanksgiving for those of you that are in the U.S. We’ll see you next week. Thanks Andrea.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Thanks everybody. Thanks, Amy. It’s always a pleasure to work with you.

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