If your boss asked you to put together a plan for your organization’s upcoming capital campaign, would you know what to include?

Probably not. Why?

For decades, organizations have relied on capital campaign consultants to write their campaign plans. So they’ve seemed a bit mysterious.

In this post, you’ll get the skinny about developing your campaign plan.

Think of your Capital Campaign Plan like this…

Your campaign plan is a collection of information about your campaign, organized into one document, that spells out how you are going to conduct your campaign.

A clear, written campaign plan will serve as an essential reference for decisions you will make throughout the campaign.

With a plan, you’ll feel more confident. Your Executive Director will breath a sigh of relief. You’re board members will be happy. And all of the high-level campaign volunteers will know that you are not flying by the seat of your pants.

Writing your campaign plan may seem daunting, but really a campaign plan is not complicated. The format might be simple or fancy – it should be in keeping with the style of your organization.

But whether your campaign plan is a beautifully laid out 30 page spiral bound notebook, a three-ring binder, or a simple word document with a clear table of contents, it’ll serve as a guide for your campaign.

11 Elements to Include in Your Capital Campaign Plan

While campaign plans vary from organization to organization, here’s a list of X pieces of essential information it should include. Some of the elements will remain constant during your campaign, while others will develop or change over time.

1. Objectives

What are you going to raise money for through your campaign?

2. Goals

What are the financial goals of your campaign? Does your campaign have any non-financial goals?

3. Pattern of Gifts Needed

How many gifts will you need at each giving level to raise your campaign dollar goal. (This is your gift range chart.) How much do you anticipate raising from from foundations, corporations and individuals. What are the sub-groups of individuals you will solicit? And what do you anticipate raising from each of them.

4. Donor Recognition

How will donors be recognized for their gifts to your campaign? Will you have naming opportunities? If so, what will they be? Will donor names appear on a group plaque and in other written material? In what other ways will you recognize donors at various giving levels?

5. Structure

What are the committees and task forces you expect to use in your campaign? What leadership structure will your campaign have? Will you have one chair? Will you have co-chairs or honorary chairs? What will their roles be?

6. Staffing

What roles will staff members play in your campaign?

7. Communications

What will be your strategies for getting the word out about your campaign? How will your campaign messages shift over the phases of your campaign?

8. Budget

How much will your campaign cost? Be sure to develop the budget for the full duration of your campaign, not just for the first year.

9. Timetable

Phase by phase, how do you anticipate your campaign rolling out? When do you plan to kick off the public phase of your campaign? When do you anticipate you will reach your goal?

10. Policies

What will be the duration of your campaign? And what will be the pledge period?

Will your campaign count annual giving toward your campaign goal? What kinds of gifts will you count and how will you assess their value?

How will gifts be solicited? And how will gifts be managed once they are received?

11. Case for Support

What is the language your campaign will use to describe your campaign and inspire donors to give?

Your Capital Campaign Plan Will Grow and Change

Like any planning document, your campaign plan is a starting place. Some of the pieces will be developed over the course of your campaign. Some aspects may change and shift.

You may also add pieces. For example, you may develop a volunteer guide. Your communications plan will expand and become more fully-formed over time.

Be sure to date your campaign plan. As you update various pieces, indicate the changes by showing a version number and date on the plan itself.

How to Develop Your Campaign Plan

The pieces of your campaign plan will evolve during the early pre-feasibility stage of your campaign. Then, once your feasibility study is done and you have a clearer sense of your campaign, you’ll pull together all of the pieces of the plan.

When you pull together the various elements of your plan into a single well-formatted document, your campaign will emerge into clear focus.

Now, when your Executive Director asks you to develop a campaign plan, here’s a short list of what you’ll do:

  1. You’ll make a list of the items that should be in the plan.
  2. You’ll pull together the elements of your campaign plan you’ve already been working on, and start developing the ones that are still missing.
  3. You’ll weave the elements together in a simple document with a neat table of contents.
  4. You’ll create a cover page, marked “DRAFT of [DATE].”

Then… presto! You’ll find that you have the beginnings of a credible campaign plan.

The Capital Campaign Toolkit includes information on each element of a campaign plan.


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