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Make the most out of the planning phase of your capital campaign

Missed our recent Fundraising Refreshments webinar on the planning phase of capital campaigns? Check it out:  

Capital campaigns are an exciting time for nonprofit organizations. But they’re also a significant and very visible undertaking.  

While many spend their energy on the public phase of the process, the planning phase is equally as important. Serving as the foundation for your entire campaign, the planning phase has a huge impact on your success. In fact, more than half of first-time capital campaigns fizzle out before they are launched or fully funded due to insufficient planning and analysis. 

How can you ensure the planning phase goes smoothly and prepares you for launch? It’s all about laying the proper groundwork.  

Proper planning phases generally take 3-6 months and are broken into the following three periods:   

  1. Conceptual modeling of the vision 
  2. Data-driven donor insights
  3. Pre-campaign case for support 

Each of these serves a distinct purpose and will help you determine whether you have the vision and information needed for a successful capital campaign. Let’s spend a little time talking about the first: Conceptual modeling of the vision.  

It’s important that this period happens before all others because it’s all about diving deep into the vision behind your capital campaign to fine-tune, ideate, create a timeline and map the process of this endeavor.  

During this time, the goal should be to:  

  • Bring in an unbiased, outside view: Sometimes we’re too close to a project to properly assess its readiness. An unbiased opinion can help you determine: Is the timing correct? Is the campaign compelling? Will it advance the mission? Can it be funded?  
  • Evaluate the vision and define the specifics: This will help determine how you speak to donors and position the campaign to leadership. 
  • Understand the donor’s point of view: Put yourself in their shoes. How does a donor view your proposal? What language does the donor use when they talk about the campaign?  
  • Assess organizational readiness: When we talk about this, it’s really looking at the leadership and your major donor development staff. Are they fully behind it? Do they understand what the capital campaign entails and what it’s trying to fulfill? Will they put their heart into it?  

From here, we dive into data-driven donor insights and pre-campaign case for support.  

The video above is a recording of my recent Fundraising Refreshments webinar on this topic. Watch it to learn more about the next two periods of the planning phase. If you’re getting ready to embark on a capital campaign and have any questions about the process, feel free to contact us to talk more! 

Fiona Cunningham

Born, raised and educated in the UK, Fiona commenced a successful 13-year career in international business with Fortune 100 Corporations, resulting in serving as president of a wholly-owned subsidiary of a major global corporation. With a life-altering event, she adjusted her career aspirations toward the nonprofit sector.

After 18 years leading distinguished partner engagement with local and national nonprofits, including Arthritis Foundation and American Cancer Society, she joined RKD Group. Her expertise spans leadership development, strategic planning, corporate partnerships, major gifts, cause campaigns, distinguished events and volunteer leadership recruitment.

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