A Future Capital Campaign: A Reader’s Questions

Sections of this topic

    And Some Questions in Response:
    We are a small 501(c)(3) arts organization with an annual budget of about $25,000 in a small community of about 4,000. We are looking at mounting a capital campaign to buy a building and make it a community arts center. Most buildings of the needed size are selling for $100,000 to $175,000. Considering remodeling, we think we are looking at having to raise $200,000 to $250,000.

    *Does your estimate include what it will cost to run a capital campaign ?
    *Do you have or can you “easily” get the funds needed to plan for and
    implement a capital campaign ?
    *How many people do you estimate will make gifts/commitments of
    $10,000, $15,000, $25,000 or more ? That’s what will determine the
    success (or failure) of your campaign.
    *Who has the respect/credibility/clout to lead a campaign and get the
    right people to want to give?

    Our membership feels that raising the money is do-able over the course of two years.

    *What happens to your organization’s reputation/credibility if you
    run a capital campaign and don’t meet your goal ?
    *Where have your members gotten their experience/expertise at
    designing and implementing a capital campaign ?

    We have, however, two very conservative board members. They want to know what happens with the capital fund if an organization does not achieve its goal. Say we raise $89,000 in two years, they ask, and then hit a brick wall and give up. I think such a thing won’t happen, but what do I tell them now, to assuage their concerns? Do the donations have to be returned?

    It’s a good thing you have board members who require answers
    to the hard questions. If you run a capital campaign, and it’s clear
    to your prospects that you are raising the money to buy/renovate
    a building, failure means returning every cent to the donors.

    No capital campaign should be implemented without first having
    a Study (professionally) done to determine the feasibility of attaining
    the needed leadership and the likelihood of obtaining the larger gifts
    that ensure reaching a goal.

    Is there a way to phrase requests so that the funds could be used for other charitable purposes in the community?

    When you ask people to support you, you must be clear why the money
    is needed, and you must use it for the stated purpose(s).

    If you run a major fundraising campaign and don’t tell your donors the
    money is to buy and renovate a building … if you give the impression
    that the money is to be used for something else … that’s fraud !!

    If the “other charitable purposes” relate to your mission, you have to be
    clear what all of those “purposes” might be.

    Bottom line is that you don’t even think about doing a capital campaign
    until you KNOW (not believe) it will be successful !!


    Have a comment or a question about starting, evaluating or expanding your fundraising program? Contact me at Hank@Major-Capital-Giving.com With over 30 years of counseling in major gifts, capital campaigns, bequest programs and the planning studies to precede these three, I’ll be pleased to answer your questions.