Capital Campaigns: Basic Campaign Structure

Sections of this topic

    The “basic” campaign is active for a very short period of time, with relatively few donors. It is often said that if you have a $1 million goal, find someone with $1 million and get them to give it to you … and your campaign is over !!

    Since that doesn’t happen too often, there should be a group of prospective major donors … able to make gifts equal to and larger than one percent of the campaign goal. This group should be large enough to ensure reaching the goal and small enough that the goal can be reached in the shortest period of time. #

    If you do decide on the “basic,” no-frills approach … and only involve those few major donors whose commitments will ensure reaching your goal, you will be, in essence, dipping into your major gifts program. ##

    The keys to a successful “basic” campaign are knowing which of your potential major donors are “ready” to make their commitments, and knowing what amounts they are likely to commit. You can only know this if there is a relationship between the prospect and your organization, and if you have been cultivating them for long enough to know that they are ready to say, “Yes.” ###

    In addition, you must know if the project for which you will ask their support is something that they feel strongly enough about to want to support it; and, those potential donors must also know that they will get the satisfaction and the recognition they want/need by supporting the campaign/project.

    For the “basic” campaign, there need not be a formal campaign structure with a campaign chair and/or other designated leaders. On the other hand, if you select a chair who is well known, who is committed to the organization’s mission, strongly supports the project the campaign will fund, and has the skills and willingness to actually solicit the other members of the small group, you will have a volunteer leader who will make-it-happen !!

    Recognition for that volunteer leader, and for that small group of donors can take many forms, but all leaders/donors must be recognized individually in a way that is significant for him/her. More on “Donor Recognition” in future postings.

    #(See: Constructing The Gift Table
    ##(See: What is a Major Gift ?? and, Who Is A Major Gifts Prospect ??
    ###(See: Cultivating Major Donors


    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’ll likely be able to answer your questions.