© 2002, Goettler Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Fund Raising Matters is a Registered Trademark
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You Go . . . or Should You Wait?
The Long-Term Benefits of a Capital Campaign.
Over the past year or so, numerous organizations have decided to
put their fund-raising plans “on hold,” until such time as economic
conditions improve. In recent months, we’re pleased to report, many
others have decided to move forward, in a spirit of cautious optimism. That’s a point of view we share. Indeed, we hit upon it in our last
newsletter. One of the main points we shared was that much of what
determines whether an organization should move forward is based
more on its own readiness, versus external economic conditions.
Historically speaking, Americans have always been willing to get
behind a worthy cause, regardless of any peaks and valleys in the
economic cycle. And those organizations that have planned and prepared
conscientiously have usually succeeded in raising significant amounts
of peaks and valleys in the economic cycle, Americans have always
been willing to get behind a worthy cause.
Such organizations, as well as their donors and volunteers, realize
that the needs of their constituents can’t wait for ideal fund-raising
conditions. They’re also aware that there are many good reasons,
beyond achieving their short-term objectives, to undertake periodic
capital and/or endowment campaigns. When an organization faces a
“go/no-go” decision, the long-term benefits should be kept in mind.
A major capital campaign, for example, provides
an excellent opportunity to:
- Provide hundreds of people with a way to
connect with, and get involved in, your organization—and in the
process, to contribute something meaningful to its advancement.
- Attract and activate scores of new donors
and volunteers, including some future board members and prospects
for major gifts. (It’s this phenomenon that makes it possible to
strengthen the annual fund during a capital campaign, rather than
compete with it.)
- Build the capacity of your development office—through the process
of “gearing up” for the capital campaign.
When you’re deciding whether to move forward with a capital campaign
or wait for a more auspicious time, it’s important to keep all these
benefits in mind.
And don’t forget: Once the “external conditions” are more auspicious,
everyone will be talking about conducting a capital campaign!
Essential Elements of Success
What ingredients are essential to a successful capital campaign?
This is the question we explore in “The Winning Campaign,”
the latest addition (our eleventh volume!) to The Goettler Series.
In volume 11, you will learn about the seven elements we believe
are crucial, based on more than 35 years experience in planning
and directing winning campaigns for nonprofit organizations:
1. A solid organization
2. A worthwhile project
3. A compelling case for support
4. Availability of sufficient financial resources
5. Qualified and committed volunteer leadership
6. Pacesetting leadership gifts
7. A realistic and well-executed plan of campaign
For the details, be sure to request your complimentary copy of
Volume 11. Refer to page 3 for more information.
the Focus of Your Campaign?
What are the Benefits?
A great deal has been written by fund-raising consultants (including
us) on the subject of building your case for support. Much less
has been said about how to go about defining your campaign objectives.
Through the case, of course, you market your organization and your
campaign to prospective donors. But before you can send a message,
you must determine its content. What specific capital, endowment,
or current programs will be funded? Who, exactly, should make those
decisions, and how?
Based on our conversations with CEO’s and development officers,
it can’t be denied that the content of the campaign is influenced,
and sometimes shaped, by the leadership’s basic motives for pursuing
a campaign in the first place.
In some cases, unfortunately, these motives reflect the organization’s
internal problems or the “pet projects” of its leaders. Such motives
may have little to do with the needs and desires of so-called “external”
audiences i.e., those the organization is in business to serve. Neither a silver-tongued case for support nor an aggressive “selling”
job should be expected to compensate for that weakness.
What we’re saying is this: A major capital campaign, from its very
conception, needs to be “about” something important — a worthwhile
project in the eyes of donors and volunteers. This project may or
may not coincide with the agenda of your CEO or development office.
From the viewpoint of your constituents, a campaign is not about:
- Improving your organization’s financial
- “Saving” your organization and/or its core
programs from imminent collapse.
- Maintaining your organization’s visibility and its contacts
From the viewpoint of your organization,
these may all be worthwhile goals, and even necessary to survival—but
they offer no benefits to your constituents.
A capital campaign is not a self-serving exercise staged by the
organization in order to get what it wants from the community. A
campaign is, in fact, a collaborative project undertaken by the
organization and the community together —on behalf of all those
the organization serves.
Your objectives, then, ought to be more than a “wish list” of unrelated
projects that your organization has been unable to fund in any other
way. Your campaign objectives should respond to needs that are felt
by your constituents, and perceived by them as urgent.
development function should be linked directly to the “visioning”
and/or strategic planning process.
Among those who stand to benefit, there should be a substantial
number whose needs would not otherwise be met. Ideally, the campaign
should build the capacity of the organization on a permanent basis
— by adding new services, improving existing services, or extending
services to new constituencies.
Although it seems to be the exception, rather than the rule, the
best way to develop a focus for your capital campaign is to link
the development function directly to the organization’s “visioning”
and/or strategic planning process.
That may be easier said than done, of course, since it elevates
the status of the “fund-raising” function from sales to development,
in the sense that the term is intended to convey. And that’s what
your capital campaign should really be about!
David S. Goettler
Chief Executive Officer, Goettler Associates, Inc.
Is Your Campaign Undercapitalized?
To take advantage of all the possibilities presented by an intensive
capital campaign, the development office must have sufficient human
and financial resources to do the job. The presence of counsel cannot
compensate for a lack of full-time staff.
A major capital campaign is often a good time to invest in a larger
development staff and budget since such an investment is likely
to “produce dividends” more quickly than usual. Undercapitalization
of the development effort, on the other hand, may prevent the organization
from realizing all of the longer-term benefits that a capital campaign
That’s why, in preparing for a major capital campaign, we often
recommend an internal assessment of the organization’s development
function (usually in concert with a campaign planning/feasibility
campaign can present an opportunity to address difficult issues
that sooner or later must be faced.
During the assessment, we gather information and opinions on the
organization and its development function. We focus on the current
resources—staff, budget, and volunteers— available to the development
office. On this basis, we try to provide forward-looking recommendations
on the most effective use of current personnel, as well as any additional
staff and office resources that may be required to ensure the success
of a major capital campaign.
These recommendations aren’t always easy to implement. The organization,
for example, may be asked to consider investing a good deal more
in the development function than it has in the past. We’ve found,
however, that preparations for a capital campaign especially with
counsel on hand—can present the best possible opportunity to address
some of the difficult issues that sooner or later must be faced.
The Goettler Associates Mission
is to assist nonprofit organizations in achieving challenging fundraising
We guide our
clients toward their financial goal through:
the client's image and awareness;
training, and motivating volunteers; and
significant philanthropic support.
We would welcome
the opportunity to learn more about the current status of your advancement
program -- your development objectives, the challenges you face, and the
resources you have for achieving your goals.
- the integrity
and high performance standards of our employees;
and honest relationships; and
- the quality
of our work in achieving success.
Associates representative is available to discuss your future plans and
share our insights and ideas for advancement. We offer a preliminary consultation
without cost or obligation.
South High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Telephone: (614) 228-3269
Fax (614) 228-7583
© 2002, Goettler Associates, Inc.