The Right Amount For A Capital Campaign Ask

Dollar signs representing campaign donationsOne of the services that we provide our clients, is helping determine appropriate for each prospective capital campaign ask. If you would like to go at it with the benefit of a consultant, here is an overview of some time-tested ways:

Step 1 – Create a list of prospects. Who might give to the organization? **Try not to put too many people on the list that you think should give because they have the money and should support your cause. You are much better off considering current and past supporters.

Step 2 – Run the list through prospect research software or work with a company that specializes in this service to determine whether the individuals and couples on your list have real estate holdings and/or gifts to other nonprofits that have been made public. You will learn whether they serve on other nonprofit boards or are they donors to or directors of private foundations.

Step 3 – Provide a copy of the prospect list to the capital campaign committee, along with the prospect research, and take the time to go through each name. Does someone know whether they just received an inheritance or are recently separated? Both will have a substantial impact on the rated amount of the “ask.”

Step 4 – Consider what the person has given before and how close that person is to the organization. If they sit on the board they are more likely to stretch their gift than if they are friends of a board member but not really involved.

Step 5 – Write a number down next to each name. This is not set in stone but you have to start somewhere.

Step 6 –
Recirculate the list to the committee. Ask them if there are any amounts that feel too high or too low. Needless to say this is a confidential process. No one should be walking out of a room with this list in their hand only to accidentally leave it on the bathroom counter.

**It feels strange counting someone else’s money and assigning an amount to which you presume you can ask, but if you let the donor decide, it will be a much lower amount than you could achieve with a cultivation process.

Step 7 – Determine who will set up an initial meeting with each donor. Okay, that may be too overwhelming to do all at once, but each person can choose 5 people to start to engage in the coming week. And start arranging meetings.

Then, start making the calls. Determine how many meetings you want to have before you make the monetary “ask.” What will be included in those meetings? Will there be leave behinds? Will it be one person or more at each meeting? The more you prepare, the more comfortable everyone will feel with the process. And the more you will raise for your capital campaign.

If you would like information that is specific to your organization, please email me.