Capital Campaigns #3: Quick Checklist for Readiness

Sections of this topic

    Being “ready” for a Capital Campaign does not mean that the CEO and/or Board/Staff members have decided they want or need to raise a lot of money.

    Being “ready” means that all the elements are in place to assure success if a capital campaign is implemented. An organization/board cannot risk committing to a capital campaign until it is (formally) determined that they are “ready.”

    The process of determining readiness, what we call a “Planning Study” (see: The Planning Study … Almost Always The First Step, addresses a number of issues, including:
    1. Board Support for the Project — Emotional, Intellectual and Financial:
    Do all board members feel strongly about the project; do they agree that
    this project is the best way to provide for a specific need in the community;
    and, will they support the campaign financially to the best of their ability?
    2. Community Support for the Project:
    Do the vast majority of community leaders agree that this project is the
    best way to provide for a specific need in the community?
    3. Competition — Other Regional Campaigns/Projects pending or active that
    may detract from your visibility/need and may have a stronger attraction
    to your potential donors.
    4. Availability of Capable and Willing Campaign Leaders who will set an
    example – will they help identify other likely major donors, give
    significantly and ask others to do the same?
    5. Access to Individuals with Wealth – just having a list of wealthy people
    is a waste of time … if you don’t have real access to them,
    6. The perception, by the wealthy, that you will satisfy their needs
    7. Community perception of the need for your service
    8. Community perception of the quality of your service
    9. Community perception of how well you manage your money
    10. Policies to guide leadership through a campaign
    11. Sufficient funding on-hand to pay the expenses of a campaign
    12. Sufficient staff with an understanding of the development process … to
    support a campaign. To plan for and conduct a capital campaign one
    should have the requisite broad experience in development. That’s why
    most organizations hire capital campaign counsel to assist … in one or
    more aspects of planning, investigation, preparation and implementation.

    A properly constructed Planning Study helps to identify potential campaign leadership and prospective major donors, and begins/extends the cultivation and “buy-in” processes necessary to a successful campaign.

    (Watch for Part #4 of Capital Campaigns, next Tuesday, November 2nd.)


    Have a comment or a question about starting or expanding your basic fundraising program, your major gifts fundraising program or a capital campaign? Email me at With over 30 years of counseling in major gifts, capital campaigns, bequest programs and the planning studies to precede these three, we should be able to answer your questions.