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Most capital campaigns acquire multi-million dollar gifts over a long period of time for your nonprofit organization’s capacity building projects. But, capital campaign methodology can help you achieve lower fundraising goals as well.
The fundamentals of capital campaigns and a normal campaign are essentially the same: prepare impactful fundraising materials, research prospects, build relationships with donors, keep supporters updated about your campaign, and follow through on your promises to donors. Capital campaigns are simply on a bigger scale.
Let’s explore essential elements of capital campaigns that you can apply to a mini-campaign.
Step 1: Pick a project and set goals
For your mini-capital campaign, you should raise money for a specific project or operating expense. Make sure your supporters know exactly what their gifts are supporting when you approach them with a donation request.
To start, make a short, annotated list describing what you want to raise money for. Be as clear and specific as you can. While setting your goals, remember to:
- Make sure you know what you want to do with the money you are planning to raise.
- Set your goal high enough so that you’ll be able to accomplish what you want to get done with a cushion for unforeseen events.
- Set a goal that’s challenging but attainable.
Also, keep in mind that you’re creating the goals for a mini-campaign. While your full scale capital campaign might raise funds for constructing a new building, a mini-campaign should strive for goals like funding equipment, staffing, rentals, program fees, and more.
Step 2: Prepare your campaign materials
Now, expand your bulleted list into a simple, well-written document that explains the impact that supporters’ donations will have if they decide to give. For this mini-capital campaign, you should keep the material to just one or two pages. If there’s more detailed information that you think might be helpful, include that in a separate Q&A or fact sheet.
Keep these points in mind:
- Your campaign materials should highlight the benefits of your project rather than just describe the features. For example, let’s say you’ll use campaign funds to increase your food bank’s capacity. You should mention the exact number of meals you can donate with your fundraising goal and how many people that would accommodate.
- Use headings to make your materials easy to read. Make the decision to support your nonprofit as simple as possible. Keep your prospects engaged by making your case for support skimmable.
- Ask people in your organization for their input. Nonprofit professionals and board members with an understanding of your nonprofit’s needs can provide valuable insight into how fundraising is going. Use their suggestions to improve your marketing materials and strategy.
Step 3: Develop your gift range chart
No matter the size of your campaign, the gift range chart will be your primary campaign planning tool. The gift range chart shows the number of gifts at each giving level you will need to raise to reach your goal.
Start your chart at the top with one gift of at least 20% of your campaign goal. If your mini-capital campaign goal is $100,000, your top gift will be somewhere around $20,000. Each subsequent level will show more gifts at a lower giving level. For a $100,000 goal, it might look something like this:
Gift range chart
The pattern of gifts loosely reflects the general pattern in nonprofit fundraising that 80% of your goal revenue will come from 20% of your donors. Stick to this plan as much as possible to achieve the best results.
Step 4: Make a list of your best prospects
Carefully review your gift range chart and note that you probably will only need about 10 gifts to raise more than half of your goal. Connecting with the right donors will save you time and allow you to pivot your approach as you fundraise.
In this step, list all of the people who might be able to make those top gifts. You likely won’t achieve your 10-gift goal right away, so to bring in those top 10 gifts, you should identify more than 10 people or sponsors. In fact, it’s best to make a list of around 30 prospects.
Within your CRM, you can locate prospects who are likely to give to your mini-capital campaign based on their engagement history with your organization. Segment any qualified prospects you find, so that when it comes time to start reaching out, you’ll already have that contact list ready to go. Don’t forget to personalize your asks to cater to your donor’s preferences, such as mentioning the fund they’ve supported in the past or their average gift amount.
Step 5: Start contacting your best prospects
Now that your messages, contact list, and goals have been finalized, start getting in touch with your prospective donors. Tell them you’d like to meet with them to ask for their support for a special project you’re working on. Set a specific time for your conversation, confirm the meeting place and time, and send them an email with your campaign materials in advance.
To prepare for your discussion, always:
- Be prepared to answer the question “How can I help?” Have a request in mind for that specific donor based on their interests, giving history, and relationship with your nonprofit.
- Have copies of your deliverables ready to distribute that explain the mini-campaign.
- Follow up directly after the meeting thanking the prospect for their time and consideration, no matter how it went.
Remember that your prospects are likely very busy with professional and personal pursuits, so ensure you’re flexible around their availability. Offer virtual alternatives to in-person meetings if needed to accommodate their schedules and make your pitch. If donors need more time to consider their, schedule a follow-up meeting where can answer any more questions they might have, share additional materials, and continue building your relationship with them.
Step 6: Follow up with every donor
Once a donor has agreed to make a gift, you still have work to do. You’ve got to tie down all of the administrative details about the gift, thank the donor, and then communicate with them throughout the process. During the follow-up process, ensure you:
- Remain responsive by replying to communications within 24 hours
- Craft personalized thank-you letters and gifts for their support, depending on the gift size
- Update your donors about new developments in the project
Think of the follow-up process as the beginning of your next fundraiser rather than the end of your campaign. The smoother this process goes, the more likely it is that the donors will continue to make gifts to your organization in the future, so stay professional and vigilant.
The impact of your mini-capital campaign
Capital campaign fundraising is the most effective form of fundraising. If you incorporate a mini-campaign like the one outlined above, you can build extremely strong relationships with your most important donors while improving your own fundraising skills, too.