Nonprofit Leaders Guide to a Capital Campaign: Defining the Dream – Vol. 2 of 12

Defining Your Capital Campaign Dream  –Volume 2 of 12

architectural sketch concept

How do you build the bridge from the idea that you want to make improvements to your nonprofit’s physical space so that it serves your nonprofit more effectively to seeing the new space enhanced, made energy efficient and, even, the new carpets installed? There is a well-worn, step-by-step path you can take to building that new addition. There will be a lot of work involved and a fair amount of people. It won’t be easy, but when you drive by that hospital or synagogue admiring their new addition, you can be reassured that it can, and has, been done before.

The first place to start is defining the dream. And to do that, you should be prepared to answer at least the questions in the four categories below, and possibly others, as well.

Why are you considering a capital campaign? Do you want to “right-size” the building, making it larger or smaller? Is there an opportunity to purchase a new building or piece of land? Is it time to update or upgrade the current structure for reasons that are visual, environmental or just general maintenance? Would you like to increase your endowment?

How does the current state of your facilities and funding affect your ability to fulfill your mission? What could you achieve programmatically and financially with a more efficient infrastructure? Could you create additional programming and serve more clients, members or program participants if you had 25% more space? Are you carrying costs for unused space—which might be rented or sold—so that those funds could be used to support your mission and vision?

Is there consensus about what should be achieved in a capital campaign? Is the leadership supportive of a campaign? Are the needs obvious to everyone involved? Is there agreement about the priorities of a campaign? Will the idea of a campaign come as a surprise or has it been whispered about for years? Has a campaign been attempted and abandoned in the recent past? What will you do differently this time to create consensus this time?

Do you have the support of the organization’s leadership? Will the 100% of the board be philanthropically supportive and commit their time and energy towards a capital campaign? Is there a core group who will work to define the dream? Will the executive director and staff be excited to work towards this goal? Is there a pool of volunteers who will form the nucleus of a development committee? Are there sufficient development committee members willing to solicit donations face-to-face? Do you have people to work on a building committee?

Answering these questions will help you explain what you want to achieve, why you want to raise this money, and who will help you along the way. Each and every person you invite to participate in the campaign as a volunteer or contributor will ask you why you want to initiate a such an effort. So, dream big, just have the answers to back up your dream.

Read The Nonprofit Leaders Guide to a Capital Campaign Vol. 1 of 12: The Overview


Read the rest of the series:

Volume 1: The Overview

Volume 3: Campaign Goals