Three Essential Steps for a Successful Capital Campaign

Three Essential Steps for a Successful Capital Campaign

Three Essential Steps for a Successful Capital Campaign
Three Essential Steps for a Successful Capital Campaign

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A capital campaign is an exciting major fundraising initiative. It brings outstanding benefits for an organisation, as well as great efforts and challenges. “No capital campaign is easy, but there are critical steps to follow to minimise any difficulties that may arise,” says Jennifer Eagar, Fundraising Consultant at AskRIGHT.


In this article, she guides non-profit organisations through these stages.


1. The Campaign Feasibility or Planning Study

The first and most important step before conducting a campaign is to engage a campaign feasibility or planning study.

This planning study is important to:

  • Evaluate the clarity and effectiveness of the planned case for support.
  • Assess how much money can be raised and set a realistic target
  • Determine campaign readiness and presents an initial timetable
  • Identify and engage potential leaders and donors of the campaign
  • Manifest all perceptions of the organisation from both within and outside the organisation


From the results of the feasibility study you can then determine the best course of action. When the feasibility study points to moving forward with a capital campaign, you then proceed to the next step.


2. The Campaign Plan

All good campaigns have a good campaign plan. This campaign plan includes such information as:

  • Campaign Policies
  • Campaign Organisation
    • Campaign Phases
    • Roles and Responsibilities of Campaign Leaders and Committee Members
  • A detailed Campaign Timeline
  • Campaign Case for Support
  • Proposed or Sample Gift Table

Campaign Policies

Every campaign must have a set of rules or guidelines to follow to help it be successful. These may include policies such as:

  • Campaign Budget
  • Multi-year pledges will be accepted up to three years
  • Pledge payments must begin within one year
  • All prospects will be contacted via face-to-face meetings, personalised letter, telephone, or by email
  • Campaign prospects will be divided into three phases to make execution easier

Campaign Organisation or Structure

The campaign’s organisation or structure will vary depending on the size of the campaign and of your organisation. You can organise a campaign in many different ways for your various purposes. It is helpful to organise prospects into groups or phases, so you can focus on those most likely to support your case first. You can organise your campaign through:

  • Your prospects
    • 75-80% of your funds will come from 10-20% of your donors
    • Focus your efforts on those donors most closely connected to your organisation that have the most affinity, willingness, and potential to give to your organisation
  • Your volunteers and campaign committees
    • Assign a campaign chairperson to lead the campaign
    • Assign specific volunteers for different tasks: scheduling visits, making visits, making phone calls, following up on gifts or pledges
    • Clarify the role of any outside leadership including executive directors and consultants
  • Other factors such as prospect type or location

Campaign Timeline

The Campaign Timeline includes five phases or steps to be successful:

  • Preparation Phase
  • Intensive Phase
  • Public Phase
  • Community Phase
  • Closing Phase

Phases of a Fundraising Campaign

The Intensive, Public, and Community Phases are the active fundraising portion and the time to be collecting funds. If you hope to receive multi-year pledges, you should also include in the timeline time for those years of receiving payments.

Campaign Case for Support

Your feasibility study should give you further insights on how your constituents view the proposed Case for Support. With this new information, you will want to finalise the Case for Support and improve it for highest efficiency and effectiveness.

The Case for Support is essentially outlining the reasons why donors should give their money to your cause. It should be a fully developed document that shares your story and how the funds raised will be used. If you need help to write or perfect your case for support, talk to one of our Fundraising Consultants.

Proposed or Sample Gift Tables

As mentioned before, 10-20% of your donors will generally provide 80% of your funds raised. Creating a sample gift table based on your prospect list allows for proper planning and helps to manage expectations. There are different kinds of gift tables designed to illustrate different information. An example table for a $1.2 million campaign might look like this:

Gift Level # of Gifts # of Requests Gift Level Total Cumulative Total
$200,000 1 4 $200,000 $200,000
$100,000 3 10 $300,000 $500,000
$50,000 6 20 $300,000 $800,000
$25,000 8 25 $200,000 $1,000,000
$10,000 10 30 $100,000 $1,100,000
$5,000 15 50 $75,000 $1,175,000
< $5,000 50 200 $25,000 $1,200,000


3. Finalising/Closing the Capital Campaign

The capital campaign does not finish once you’ve reached your goal and sent the final thank you letters.

It is important to continue to update your donors on the progress of the project they’ve funded. If your campaign objective was to build or renovate a building, you can send your donors a regular newsletter throughout the completion of the project. If the funds were for an endowment or scholarship funds, you can send regular updates on scholarship recipients.

Eventually, there will come a time when gifts specifically for the campaign will either naturally taper off or you set a hard end-date after which subsequent gifts will no longer be applied to this campaign. At that time, it is appropriate to send out a final update to all interested donors and prospects with the story of the campaign from the beginning. Be sure to thank all donors and stay connected through future regular contact to prepare for your next capital campaign. You can’t say thank you enough.


Are you planning to run a capital campaign?

Register for a free consultation to discuss these steps with a fundraising expert or join our webinar to develop your skills:


preparing for a capital campaign


Jennifer Eagar

Jennifer Eagar

Fundraising Consultant at AskRIGHT
Jennifer has worked with various non-profit clients in the USA and New Zealand, including food banks, higher education institutions, and religious organisations.

To find out how Jennifer can help your organisation, contact
Jennifer Eagar

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