News & Press: Member Insights

iWave’s Capital Campaign Guide: Back to Basics

Monday, August 10, 2020  

Are you considering starting a capital campaign for your nonprofit organization’s next big project? This form of fundraising is a great way to get the funds you need within your desired timeline. Though for your campaign to be successful, you’ll need the proper tools. Before we get to the tools, let’s explore exactly what a capital campaign entails.

What’s a Capital Campaign?

By definition, a capital campaign is an organized effort to raise funding within a predetermined time period. In simple terms—capital campaigns raise the funds nonprofits need to tackle projects like the construction of a new building, expansion of existing buildings, new land acquisitions, or purchase of equipment or supplies.

Capital campaigns are unique since they occur in two phases: quiet (private) and public. These campaigns are always highly specific in their end goals and thoroughly planned out beforehand.

Your nonprofit organization is constantly looking for charitable gifts to help improve the mission overall, but this type of fundraising is for those massive goals or undertakings you need to grow and thrive.

Who Can Use a Capital Campaign?

Any nonprofit organization—no matter how big or small—can use a capital campaign as a source of fundraising. Usually though, the two main types of nonprofits that run capital campaigns are healthcare institutions and educational organizations.

These groups often need to fund building projects to expand their organization. If a university’s in need of a new library, for example, they could run a capital campaign to raise the construction funds. A campaign like this always has a clear end goal and timeframe, making it easier to acquire new land and facilities when you most need them.

Achieve Your Goals With Careful Planning and the Right Team

The best way to run your capital campaign is with a highly organized team. Before launching, you may need to assign all the following positions:

  • Campaign Chair: Oversees committees and acts as an ambassador for your campaign within your nonprofit organization.
  • Planning Committee: Between 10 to 15 members planning your campaign and keeping you on track.
  • Steering Committee: Directly involved with the maintenance of your campaign. Ensures everything goes according to plan.
  • Board Members: Involved in day-to-day planning and big picture discussions.
  • General Staff: Organizes major gift officers, prospect researchers, volunteer coordinators, event planners, marketing coordinators, and more.

The success of your campaign hinges on a dedicated and hardworking staff. Choosing the right people will help get you on the right path.

When Should You Launch a Capital Campaign?

Once you’ve carefully planned and identified your team, your timeframe, and your end goal, you should be ready to launch your capital campaign!

If your hospital needs to build a new wing by next spring, a capital campaign is a great way to jumpstart the process and methodically raise the money you need. Spend the time finding the right volunteers to work on this campaign and then get started.

What to Look for When Choosing a Tool to Help Your Capital Campaign

As mentioned above, capital campaigns are broken up into two phases: quiet and public. The quiet phase is when you reach out to former donors as well as new prospects to receive major gifts. For most campaigns, 50 to 70 percent of funds are raised during this time.

The public phase is where you’ll receive the rest of the donations, all by pulling gifts from a larger population of donors. The public phase typically consists of your smaller donations to make it to 100 percent of your goal.

Making the Right Asks at the Right Time

Since the quiet phase is where the majority of your donations will come from, it’s crucial you’re asking for the right amount from the right people.

Let’s look at our hospital example again. When building your new wing, you may want to reach out to former patients. Many may be willing to assist the institution that saved their life! Look for a tool with the ability to help you create a detailed, organized list of satisfied patients who have the inclination and capacity to give, will be a huge help.

Also, having a tool that can also show you the history and inclination of potential donors is extremely beneficial. Has a local philanthropist given to hospital programs or medical research in the past? Being able to search their history to show you if they’re likely to support your mission is key.

Lastly, it’s essential you ask for the right amount of money. Make sure that your fundraising intelligence tool has a comprehensive suite of data to help identify the best amount to ask for, ensuring no money is left on the table.

With a platform like iWave, you’ll be able to ask with confidence and set a more successful capital campaign into motion.

How Are Capital Campaign Goals Achieved?

As a member of a nonprofit, you’re no stranger to hard work. You know good things come to those who plan ahead and work diligently. Careful planning is key to capital campaign success. Firm deadlines with well-defined goal dates will help you stay motivated and on track. Follow this simple timeline to achieve success:

  1. Planning: Identify your goal and put together the right team to accomplish the task. Here is where you’ll establish your timeline along with smaller goals along the way. This is also a great time to uncover potential donors with iWave’s wealth screening.
  2. Quiet Phase: Reach out to the potential donors you’ve identified to raise the bulk of your gifts. Using a fundraising platform also helps uncover capacity to give along with ability. Going to potential donors with the right ask ensures no potential gifts are left untapped and you get the right amount of funding.
  3. Kick-Off: Before going public, you want to formally launch your campaign. At this stage, you can hold a conference or send out a press release about your mission.
  4. Public Phase: This is your last step to raise the funds you need and accomplish your end goal. Appeal to the public to receive smaller donations from a large pool of people. Then it’s time to finish out your project!

No one wants to spend time and resources going after the wrong donors. Every day matters when you have a tight timeframe to achieve a specific goal. The public phase will help you fill in the gaps, but the more successful your quiet phase is, the better prepared you will be. iWave is ready to help you maximize your charitable gifts.

Are You Ready to Fundraise Smarter?

Think a capital campaign is the right way to go for your next project? iWave is ready to get you started with the planning stage. Request a free demo today to see our technology in action. We’ll gladly work one-on-one with you to guide you through our fundraising software and show you how you can use it to achieve your specific goals.


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