Maintaining Capital Campaign Momentum

The Nonprofit Leaders Guide for a Capital Campaign Volume 11: Maintaining Capital Campaign Momentum

In this series, we have covered, defining the dream, determining the capital campaign goals, nonprofit consultants and architects, the capital campaign feasibility study, marketing materials, volunteer leadership, and sequencing solicitations—who to solicit first, and then who to solicit second.  Now that you understand what it takes to start a campaign, it’s time to consider how to maintain capital campaign momentum.

Consider how hard it is to maintain capital campaign momentum in month 14, 18 or 24.  Imagine if you have been working diligently for more than a year, gaining ground, but still not over the benchmark that you have set for going public with the campaign.  Many in the community know that a capital campaign is underway, it is always the worst kept secret, but you do not know when you will be able to make the big announcement. Sometimes it feels as if that day will never come.

How do you maintain capital campaign momentum?

  1. Regularly scheduled meetings. If you are only holding ad hoc meetings, there are no deadlines for solicitors to meet.  Volunteers, in particular, need deadlines to make the campaign a priority again and again and again.
  2. Change up the next meeting. If the same group is showing up at the meetings but you hear a lot of, “I couldn’t get to it this week,” or “I’m just waiting for everyone to get back to me,” it might be time for something different. Maybe it’s a training session, a joint session with the capital campaign building committee or a special guest speaker (maybe a beneficiary of the campaign or someone from a different nonprofit who has recently completed a campaign)?  Consider who would help bring a different energy into the room and remind everyone of why they are spending their valuable time on this campaign.
  3. Hire a nonprofit consultant like Mersky, Jaffe & Associates. We can help infuse energy and offer additional tips and strategies that can reinvigorate a campaign.
  4. Create new opportunities for excitement. If you need to raise $7 million to go public and you only have $5 million it can be disheartening.  But, you should remember, and celebrate that you have already raised $5 million! Instead of heading down a negative path:
    1. Set a new benchmark of $6 million that will trigger a capital campaign development committee offsite or thank you for all your hard work and we hope you will keep up the good work dinner. Something to work for and to allow you to celebrate your accomplishments along the way.
    2. Offer naming opportunities. For some major donors, the chance to name the social hall or the nursery school after a loved one will substantially increase the amount of their gifts. For small and mid-size donors you can encourage a small affinity group to pool their resources to name a room. If 5 friends who had pledged $5,000 increase their gifts to $10,000 they can reach the $50,000 level to name a training center or classroom. The bonus is the that the smaller donors will feel like they worked together for the nonprofit to make a bigger gift. A win-win for everyone involved.
  5. Add an additional co-chair. If the leaders are getting pulled in other directions by work, have changes in their personal life or are no longer bringing the same inspiration, it may be worth adding someone new to the leadership team.  This is a marathon, not a sprint, and sometimes you need a new training buddy to change things up and remind everyone that they need to keep moving towards the finish line.  Ideally, this new leader will be a current donor who can bring additional volunteers to the committee.  It is never too late to expand the capital campaign development committee.

A stalled campaign can be a failed campaign.  Instead, shake things up, keep things moving, and get back to raising money to help fulfill your nonprofit’s dreams.

Last Month: Identifying the Second Round of Capital Campaign Prospects