Capital Campaign Fundraising: 4 Steps to Nonprofit Success

There’s no doubt that when it comes to nonprofit fundraising success, one of the most intimidating strategies is capital campaign fundraising.

If you’re not familiar, a capital campaign is an initiative to raise money for a large scale project over a long period of time.

The goal is usually to complete a new building or other asset — that will last for generations.

There are generally 4-parts to a capital campaign:

  1. Win over donors in the ‘quiet phase.’
  2. Create a complementary campaign brand.
  3. Take your campaign online.
  4. Make the most of your event.

Win Over Donors in the ‘Quiet Phase’

The secret to launching a successful capital campaign begins with the “quiet phase”.

If your nonprofit is new to capital campaigns, a smart first move might be to recruit a fundraising consultant for help on key fundraising early steps like pre-planning and research, setting a fundraising goal, and enlisting volunteers and donors for support.

1. Screen Potential Donors

Once the pre-planning stage is complete, it’s time to focus on selling potential donors on how the campaign will benefit them as well as the future of your nonprofit.

According to DonorSearch, the best way to achieve this is to begin by screening potential donors to narrow your list down to the most passionate and qualified candidates.

To accomplish this, start by considering what factors might make a donor more qualified such as:

  • A philanthropic history with your nonprofit.
  • A position as a community leader or local government official.
  • A donation history with other organizations.
  • Real estate or stock ownership.

At the end of the day, this research will increase your odds of securing donations by giving these prospects individual care and attention.

2. Seal the Deal with Direct Communication

During the pivotal “quiet phase,” making a good first impression with your donors can often make or break how the rest of your campaign will unfold.

Remember, good communication is essential in building lasting relationships with donors.To secure their loyalty early on, strike up a personal and professional rapport with your donors with these three tips.

To secure their loyalty early on, follow these three tips:

3. Prepare your case for support

The last thing you want when reaching out to donors is for them be unclear about the purpose of your capital campaign.

To dispel these fears, take time before your donor meeting to outline a discussion plan covering not only the features of your campaign but the benefits as well. This additional prep work will prove to your donors that you know what you’re doing while also reaffirming their confidence about getting involved.

Also, be sure to put together a case for support that accurately and efficiently describes the need for your capital campaign.

This document should showcase inspirational copy that conveys urgency for your project.

A few angles to acknowledge while compiling this resource may include:

  • The mission of your nonprofit.
  • Your goals for the capital campaign.
  • Why you reached out to this particular donor for aid.
  • How the campaign will benefit the donor.
  • How your campaign will create a specific call-to-action.
  • Projected community impact.

4. Don’t overlook tone

It’s not what you say but how you say it that matters most.

When speaking with donors, it’s natural to adopt a professional tone, but try to connect with them on a personal level, too, that’s appropriate for your relationship.

Do your best to keep any note of anxiety of desperation out of your voice and approach them in an engaging and confident manner. After all, you’re both citizens who will benefit from your capital campaign, and it’s your job to help them see that.

5. Above all, be personable

You don’t want donors to feel like an ATM.

Make sure the donor is familiar with and excited about how their talents will help your campaign be a success.

Work with their schedule to host one-on-one, in-person meetings where you can update them on campaign progress and involve them in important decision making.

This will make your donors feel valued and proud to contribute to the campaign.

Create a Complementary Campaign Brand

Even though capital campaign fundraising is an extension of your nonprofit, it’s important to recognize that they are both separate entities that should be promoted differently.

Create a capital campaign fundraising brand that can stand on its own while highlighting your nonprofit’s mission. To achieve this delicate balance, incorporate this foolproof strategy into your budding campaign.

Remember to KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid)

When it comes to branding, nothing is better than going back to basics. This refers to both the copy and graphics, which should be clean and attention-grabbing while avoiding any extraneous bells and whistles.

If you aren’t comfortable trying your hand at design, partner with a trained graphic designer.

In addition to using direct language when promoting your campaign strategy, it’s equally necessary to maintain consistency in voice and visuals in all of your written/online marketing materials such as:

  • Press releases/newsletters
  • Brochures/flyers
  • Donation request letters

Not everyone has an eye for design or a way with words, but by playing around with these simple yet eloquent branding tactics, your campaign will captivate audiences in no time.

Take Your Campaign Online

In this day and age, you’re more likely to jump start interest in your capital campaign by directly catering to your online target audience.

Make sure you take advantage of all of the virtual resources at hand by playing into these top three communication platforms.

1. Social Media is Your Strongest Ally

The options are endless when it comes to applying social media strategies to get the word out about your capital campaign fundraising project.

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even Pinterest also provide numerous ways to broadcast updates on the campaign, connect your fundraiser to current events, and post content and links that supply more information.

Don’t forget that social media posts always reach a wider audience when they feature pictures or videos.

Many organizations even rely on a social media committee to get the buzz out on news and events faster and more efficiently.

2. A Flawless Website is Top Priority

Without fail, the cornerstone of your online marketing campaign is going to be your website and more specifically, your web design strategy. This means that the amount of time a user spends on these web pages is imperative to spreading the word about your capital campaign.

To increase your website traffic, it’s best to start by developing a platform that’s easy to navigate and lays out key information in a neat and accessible design. These primary items may include:

  • Links to social media channels
  • Downloadable information on events
  • Statistics related to the fundraiser
  • A thank-you page recognizing your donors

You can also choose to incorporate a matching gifts program on your website for users to connect with their companies and increase donations.

All that matters is that at the end of the day, your supporters can rely on a pleasing and intricate website for everything they need to know about your capital campaign.

3. Send Emails that Connect

Many nonprofits often fall victim to fundraising blunders such as blasting your contact list and not following up.

To avoid these common mistakes, try targeting segments that unite your campaign’s cause with their personal interests.

A great way to get started with going the extra mile is to invest in donor software to construct in-depth donor profiles and personalized email campaigns.

4. Make the Most of Your Event

Your event can take the form of just about anything — charity auction, walkathon, raffle, fundraising gala; you name it!

However, it’s not the kind of event that matters most; it’s the feeling your event gives donors!

Follow-up with Guests Afterwards

One of the most crucial steps in hosting a capital campaign event is to follow-up with your major donors who took time and energy out of their days to support your cause.

This is no small feat and should be acknowledged accordingly with personalized thank-you notes, pledge cards and, if you have their email addresses, a routine newsletter.

Keep the brand fresh in your guest’s minds by featuring your capital campaign logo and slogan on every document you send as well as contact information for your nonprofit.

John Haydon