Capital Campaigns: Five Secrets of Success

What does it really take for a successful capital campaign?

The super successful campaigns you hear about all are raising millions. And even hundreds of millions or billions!

All this funding seems like it’s just flowing into the organization like a river of gifts and grants.

Pretty amazing, isn’t it?

How can you and your organization pull off big-time results like these?

Here are my top five secrets for a super successful capital campaign. If you follow them, you’ll be able to land transformational gifts to expand your organization’s good work.

1. For a Successful Capital Campaign, Focus on a Very Few Large Donors

Only a very few people give major gifts. And, yes, your campaign can be wildly successful with a few very large gifts.

Successful capital campaigns are ALWAYS built on a very few lead gifts.

And if you don’t take the time to identify those donors and bring them close, you won’t be successful.

Don’t spread yourself too thin, trying to work with too many donors. If you do, you’ll never develop the strong, deep, meaningful relationships you need with the right few.

Here’s your winning strategy:

Narrow down your focus. Spend ample quality time with a few True Believers who have deep financial capacity.

Find out what makes these donors tick. What do they want to accomplish with their philanthropy?

Slather attention on those special folks.

Listen! And listen to them some more. They want to be partners with you.

2. Tie Your Campaign to Community Benefits

It’s time to stop talking about your organization and its needs. Instead, start focusing on what your community needs.

This is a huge shift of perspective. And it’s a hard one to nail, because it doesn’t come naturally.

You instinctively talk about the good work your organization does, your grand plans, and what you need to pull them off.

Here’s your winning strategy:

Shape your organization’s messages to be about what your community needs, not about what your organization needs.

Your donors will be more interested in you if you show them how their gifts will serve the greater good.

3. Get Everyone Pulling in the Same Direction

Do all of your board and staff members agree on where you are headed?

Don’t be surprised to find that some people either don’t understand the new vision, or don’t agree with the direction.

For a successful capital campaign, you’ll need everyone buying into this new vision and how you’ll achieve it.

Check to find out if everyone is on board.

Here’s your winning strategy:

Spend the time and energy to make sure that all of your insiders enthusiastically buy into the big new vision.

Set up opportunities for your board members to discuss your vision and plans. Then they’ll get clear on the direction forward. And they’ll start considering why and at what level they should support that vision.

Don’t miss that step. Without a shared vision, there’s no energy to harness.

4. Learn a Conversational Approach to Asking

The idea of asking for a major gift creates fear in a lot of people’s stomachs.

But guess what! There’s a kinder, gentler, much more successful way to approach asking. This approach has donors actually saying to you “how can I help?”

Here’s your winning strategy: 

Use a conversation approach to bring up the topic of a gift:

What area of our work most interests you? 

What’s your vision for your own philanthropy? 

If you ever made a gift what would you most like to accomplish? 

Would you like to know how you could help? 

And all of a sudden, you are in the middle of an asking conversation.

And the donor feels engaged and in charge. It’s all about their big heart and personal values.

5. For a Successful Capital Campaign, Set a Dollar Goal and Put It Up against a Deadline

Goals and deadlines work. They won’t make you comfortable, but they’ll help you create a super successful capital campaign.

In fact, goals and deadlines are what get people pulling in the same direction at the same time.

They create the all-important energy you need to get everyone inspired.

Without them, you’ll have no sense of accomplishment, and no celebration.

Here’s your winning strategy:

Find the courage to set measurable goals and a realistic timeline. Then stick to them.

BOTTOM LINE for a Super Successful Capital Campaign

Just focus on the few best donors, frame your need in terms of community benefits, get everyone in full agreement, train people on conversational asking, and have the courage to stand behind a dollar goal and a deadline.