The 3 Cs of Fundraising – Capacity, Commitment and Connection

Pyramid for the 3 Cs of fundraisingSometimes, when I am working on a capital campaign, I spend a lot of time focusing on which prospects have the capacity to give a 6 or 7 figure gift. In a recent meeting when I mentioned the prioritization of the next round of donors based on their capacity someone spoke up. While not contradicting me, she reminded us of that there are the 3 Cs of fundraising ­­– Capacity, Commitment and Connection. She wanted to stress that capacity was just one leg of the stool.

She is correct.

However, her experience working with annual campaigns and grassroots fundraising is not 100% transferable to a capital campaign.

All 3 legs, or, the 3 Cs of fundraising ­­– capacity, commitment and connection should be firmly in place prior to raising money for a building renovation or endowment campaign. However, when raising millions of dollars to realize your dream, capacity has to be the way you prioritize those who are already committed and connected to the organization.

There is just no way to raise millions of dollars from the bulk of your community (see why below). Pareto’s 80/20 principal reminds us that 80% of your donations will come from 20% of your donors.  And, today, that seems to be moving closer to 90/10. Your nonprofit may have more $100,000 donors and fewer $1,000,000 donors who support your capital campaign.  But, the amount cannot be split evenly among all committed, connected donors.

If only it were that easy.

Consider a $10,000,000 campaign.  If you have 500 donors to your annual fund, you are probably doing a lot of great fundraising.  But, it would require each and every one of those donors to give $20,000 to your campaign to split it evenly.  Every one of those $25 gifts would have to turn into $4,000 a year for the next 5 years.  Every person on a fixed income and every student would have to be willing to give their share. Should I even mention the donor retention issues that have have to be ignored to ensure this type of success?

Instead, we would like to help you create strong nonprofits with committed, connected donors who will all give to a capital campaign.  We will just focus on the ones with higher capacity to get started.

Want to read more about donor strategies?

Nonprofit Solicitation: It’s Harder To Get The Appointment Than To Get The Gift

The Fundraising Committee: Reflecting on a Year – Part I

Meaningful Major Gift: From The Heart And The Wallet