It seems like every organization has their eyes set on capital campaigns these days. With the real estate prices in the Bay Area continuing to rise and so much philanthropic competition to contend with, board members often feel that if they don’t seize the opportunity now, they’ll never be able to do it. If you aren’t currently launching a capital campaign, you might feel left out or left behind. The feeling can create undue pressure to “go for it.” But before you leap, take a good look at why and when.
If the answer to any three of the questions in the Quiz below is no, then you should take pause and understand that the answer to the question: “Are you ready for a capital campaign?” is, not no but not yet. Capital Campaigns are very difficult, even when successful, and require a well prepared organization. The process of evaluating your organization is always worthwhile and working towards the “yes” answer will strengthen every organization brave enough to ask the questions.
Take a deep breath and answer the following Capital Campaign Readiness Quiz:
Are You Ready For a Capital Campaign?
- Is there a long-range strategic plan in place?
- Are there any significant issues facing your organization in the next 5 – 7 years (succession planning, non-recurring significant financial commitments, lease negotiations, system upgrades, etc)?
- Do you know what you would be raising money for?
- Do you know how much each stage of the campaign and the program growth will cost?
- Is there adequate time for a campaign?
- Does the staff and board have the commitment, leadership, time, and skills to run a successful capital campaign?
- Will each board member make a personally significant gift to the campaign in addition to annual operating expenses?
- Has annual giving provided big gift prospects in the recent past?
- Are these gifts of a size to make the goal attainable?
- Is there a gift available that will provide 10-20% of our goal?
- Is it likely the top 15 gifts will generate 50-70% of our goal?
- Once complete, are the resources available to support the new project?
- Has the organization done a formal and objective feasibility study which evaluates external (community perception and support, existence of competing campaigns, etc.) and internal (software, staff and board experience, etc.) capacity to fund a successful campaign?
If you think that the organization is ready for a campaign, then the first step is an independent feasibility study. A proper feasibility study looks deeper in into the organization to answer these questions objectively. It will identify gaps and holes (and possibly some pleasant surprises) that need to be accounted for when getting ready for a campaign. Lastly, it will give you a good idea of when you will be ready to be successful. Launching a campaign that an organization isn’t ready for can be devastating on many levels. Yet there’s nothing more satisfying and energizing than launching and finishing a campaign as planned. Look before you leap.