New Capital Campaign Trends for 2021

With the positive economic environment right now, most capital campaigns are really taking off in 2021. We’re seeing some interesting new capital campaign trends among our clients’ capital campaigns, and wanted share them here.

As we’ve seen with many of our clients, your capital campaign can be a booming success with a few strategic efforts. Donors are feeling wealthy right now, and they are often ready to move forward and discuss how they can help. Take advantage of these capital campaign trends for 2021:

1. Taking Advantage of the Soaring Stock Market

Most donors make larger gifts when they see strong growth trends in the stock market. As we mentioned above, they “feel” wealthier.

Because the stock market has grown so much over the past few years, investors are enjoying record high stock appreciation and profits.

It’s a wonderful time to remind donors about the benefits of giving appreciated stock. Not only can donors avoid capital gains taxes, but they can also gain significant tax deductions from their charitable contributions.

For example, a donor purchased stocks for an average $100 per share, investing a total of $10,000. Ten years later, the stocks could now be worth $280/share. The donor’s original investment is now worth $28,000.

By making the gift of the fully appreciated stock, the donor avoids capital gains taxes and gets to help their favorite organization with a significant campaign gift.

Takeaway: Many donors have extensive paper profits from the high stock market. Don’t forget to gently inquire about giving with assets other than cash.

2. More Transparent Messaging

We are seeing a strong trend toward more specific, much more transparent communications with major donors. Organizations that are sharing their status openly and honestly with their donors are receiving more support.

All along, donors have shared that they dislike formal, lofty language from the organizations they support. All the acronyms and nonprofit-speak puts them off, and dampens their enthusiasm.

During the pandemic, nonprofits are talking about their work very differently. Our clients are being frank with their supporters. They’re sharing exactly what is going on financially, and what they really need. As a result, donors are responding generously.

Our Major Gift Coaching client, Historic Columbus worried about a serious drop in contributions last year just about this time. We suggested to the Executive Director that she choose 20 major donors, communicate often with them via email and share an update of how the organization was adapting.

A few months later, out of the blue, one of the donors suddenly gifted $40,000. The donor explained that he appreciated the Executive Director’s frequent communications, and the transparency she showed in being perfectly open about the numbers.

Capital campaign trend takeaway: When your financial situation shifts – or when you have a major opportunity like a capital campaign – it is more important than ever to be transparent with your donors.

3. More Straightforward Conversations with Donors

For over a year, fundraisers have not been able to meet and greet our donors. No more coffees, lunches, meetings, gatherings. All the schmoozing of major gift and capital campaign work evaporated as we shifted to shut down for the pandemic. All the “fluff” of major gift fundraising went down the drain.

As a result, we were forced into absolutely direct conversations with our donors. No more oblique dancing those awkward discovery and qualification questions.

Now, we are training our clients to move right along with their donors, to find out what they are interested in. Be ready to ask your donors, in a very straightforward manner:

“Could you see yourself becoming more involved with our work?”

“Would you like to know more about how you can help?

As a result, our clients are saving so much time by finding out quickly which donors are interested, and which ones are not.

Capital campaign trend takeaway: It’s easy to find your most passionate supporters by asking a few direct questions.

4. Donors are Ready to Discuss Their Gifts Early in the Campaign

In this environment where donors are feeling wealthy, and nonprofits are directly discussing their needs with donors, good things can happen quickly.

For example, our campaign clients are seeing extraordinary results with one simple question:

“Would this be a good time to discuss your support of our campaign?”

This polite question is usually easy to ask. For instance, one of our clients closed a $100,000 gift the first time she asked this question. The next time she asked it, she closed a $250,000 gift.

Note that both of these gifts came in without a formal campaign ask. We just coached her to look for the right signals, and then be ready to gently pose the question. Note: she was on the phone or zoom for both of these conversations – in a digital format.

Takeaway: You can close major campaign gifts by asking your donor about their timing. Many of your donors are more ready than you may think.

Bottom Line: Capital Campaign Trends for 2021

Remember, the fundraising outlook for 2021 and 2022 is very positive. Make sure you prepare and seize this ripe opportunity.

Take advantage of these new capital campaign trends. Be willing to be transparent, direct and straightforward with your donors. You’ll see terrific results.

Don’t forget, we are happy to arrange a free campaign strategy call if you are in the process of planning a capital campaign.