A Nonprofit's Introductory Guide to Developing & Launching a Capital Campaign

Getting started can be overwhelming. Here's a simple step-by-step guide to help you get things going.

October 17, 2022|by Spave

As a professional in the nonprofit space, you understand the importance of a capital campaign but may not know how to develop one. This is Spave’s introductory guide to developing and executing a capital campaign.

For more in-depth information on organizing a capital campaign, we recommend The Ask Event Handbook by Terry Axelrod.

Developing and Executing a Capital Campaign

Step One: Campaign Readiness Study 

When you’re organizing a capital campaign, the first thing you need to do is conduct a campaign readiness study. Many nonprofits engage consultancy companies to assist with capital campaigns; the first step of this phase is typically to hire consultants. Your consultants will evaluate the campaign mission, analyze the interest levels of key stakeholders, assess general awareness of the project, and determine available support and volunteer leadership potential. The results of your campaign readiness study will be critical as you begin developing a strategy and proceed through the pre-campaign and campaign phases.

Step Two: Pre-Campaign Coordination

Once you’ve completed your campaign readiness study and set an attainable fundraising goal, you’ll begin working with your consultants to develop campaign rationale, cultivating leadership for the fundraising campaign process, and building key volunteer committees. This will include developing case statements and FAQ content that will build credibility and earn buy-in both internally and with donors. This is also the phase during which you should provide training for volunteers, strategize major gifts, recruit additional donors, and develop the gift table necessary to meet your goal. This phase takes intensive work and considerable time, but it lays the foundation for successful fundraising.

Step Three: Launch and Fundraising

The third phase is the campaign itself. This phase is broad, beginning with the silent launch before building to the public launch. The silent phase of the campaign is a time period before the official announcement of a campaign. During this time, the majority of funds are typically raised via commitments for large gifts made by major donors.

During this stage of the process, it’s the responsibility of your consultants to provide careful, ongoing management to ensure continued urgency and momentum until the goal is reached. This is also the time when you’ll conduct results-oriented solicitation training for all volunteers and establish a social media presence for additional community visibility and support.

Once 60 to 70 percent of the goal has been raised, you can coordinate your public launch event to collect the rest of the funds. No major campaign should start at $0. It’s important for at least half of the fundraising goal to be accounted for prior to the public launch. This is because, without this substantial amount already gifted, the campaign won’t have the momentum and confidence needed to raise the final amount.

Typically, 60 to 70 percent of the goal raised during the silent phase will come from 12 to 16 main contributors. The remaining funds will be raised via a large number of more modest donations from many different sources.

The four main purposes of a public launch are to:

  • Build awareness in the community
  • Establish credibility with potential supporters
  • Garner confidence in the cause
  • Generate excitement about the project and its impact

How Spave Can Help

Capital campaigns are a crucial part of operating a nonprofit, but they take an exorbitant amount of time and work. Partnering with Spave is a fantastic way to ensure a steady stream of donations from loyal supporters. To learn more about how Spave can increase your donor revenue, contact a member of our team today.

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