What’s in Your Capital Campaign Toolbox?

Amy Schiffman
December 7, 2017

Several weeks ago we began a conversation about capital campaign planning. We defined a capital campaign as an intense effort on behalf of an organization to raise significant dollars (typically related to the building or renovation of a facility) to fund a one-time project or series of projects during a defined time frame. Two weeks ago we discussed the importance of a feasibility study to the capital campaign planning process and last week we talked about the development of your capital campaign leadership team. What’s next?

Now we’re ready to talk about the development of campaign materials and review what is typically included in a capital campaign tool box:

  • The Case for Support: In preparation for the feasibility study, it is likely that you developed a document called a statement of intent. Once you have completed that study and reflected on the information gained during that process, you should be ready to adapt the statement of intent into a case for support. I will spend time next week giving you a more detailed look at the development of your case, but for now, suffice to say that this document tells your prospects about your vision for the organization, why you need significant dollars to support that vision, how the dollars will be spent and what you will be able to achieve as a result. The case is often molded into language used on your website, in a campaign brochure and within funding proposals for donors.
  • FAQ’s: The next most important document in your toolbox will be a document that outlines your most anticipated “frequently asked questions.” It’s a good idea to ask your campaign committee or board to help you brainstorm about questions they (or you) might receive when speaking to donors and prospects about the campaign. What are they wondering about the campaign or project? Your FAQ’s might include between 8 – 10 questions and should both reiterate information presented in the case for support and address issues too detailed to include. Again – ask your lay leadership to help develop these questions.
  • Gift Table: A gift table may not necessarily be used in every solicitation conversation, but this (often internal) document allows your team, and possibly donors, to get a sense of how many gifts, and at what level, it will take to achieve your goal. This document is also referred to as a giving pyramid. It’s also common for there to be more than one version of the gift table in order to plan for the different possibilities that exist for giving combinations. Once a lead gift (or lead gifts) is accomplished, the gift table can be revised and updated.
  • Naming Opportunities: It’s helpful for campaign prospects to get a sense of your organization’s donor recognition policy and this typically includes a list of naming opportunities. It is common for these opportunities to include pricing on namings/recognition tied to rooms, buildings, gyms, cafeterias, theaters, and even a campus. It might also include information about programmatic naming opportunities via an endowed gift or the opportunity to name a position or chairmanship.
  • Project Budget: If your case for support does not reference the project budget, it might make sense to include a separate document with a fairly simple budget projection. This might include land, landscaping, building purchase, building renovation, fundraising, legal, zoning, and maintenance costs.
  • Renderings: It is quite common for a capital campaign tool box or collateral folder to include project renderings. Most nonprofits work with their architect to develop these documents and they may be included in the case or in a campaign brochure.
  • Pledge Agreement: Last – whether included in your tool box or not, it is important to develop a pledge agreement that is vetted via your legal council. Make sure you include information about the longevity of the naming opportunity (is it time constrained? or made in perpetuity?). Be careful about offering facility related naming opportunities without some language about the time constraint on the naming (often 20 – 25 years). When your facility requires renovations in the future, it’s important to be able to fundraise again for this opportunity, but give your prior donor the right of first refusal on the new project!

Good luck developing your campaign tool box, enjoy this week’s freebie, and please feel free to send us questions about any of the documents referred to above. I will spend time next week giving you a better sense of the case for support and how to build a case that is strong and compelling.