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3 Questions You Should Answer Before Launching a Capital Campaign

Phil Tretheway March 29, 2023

Major fundraising campaigns for special initiatives are too important to treat as a rush job. They deserve the same care as any of your organization’s marketing projects. By dedicating the right amount of time and strategic focus to a capital campaign, your organization, and its fundraising have much stronger chances of reaching your goals.

3 Keys to a Successful Fundraising Strategy 

Often, these initiatives are integral to your organization’s ongoing success and, in some cases, survival. However, before you approach a single prospective donor, you have to dedicate the right resources to creating a plan.

Your plan needs to address the following 3 questions to be effective:

1. How Will You Tell Your Organization’s Story in This Context?

Prior to starting any work on a capital campaign, you need to set the right foundation. Your audience has to understand where their money is going and why your organization needs their support. Then, you can focus on creating a specific request for a donation.

From the beginning, you need to identify the goals for your campaign and the specific audience you’re targeting for help. Once those details are established, you can define the messaging and tactics that will deliver the results you need.

For example, an organization of farmers was working on an advocacy campaign. Their work involved a wealth of details that drew a connection between agriculture and the food supply of local salmon.

Legislators aren’t a technical audience, and the disjointed nature of their day-to-day work limits their attention span. Rather than attempting to communicate every detail of the issue to these lawmakers, the organization worked with Position to create a simple illustrative leave behind visually communicating their point.  

Defining what you’re trying to say and then crafting your message in a compelling way is crucial to any fundraising initiative. With a critical fundraising goal approaching, your nonprofit or member-driven organization may be best served by bringing in an outside marketing perspective. This can ensure the story of your campaign is told in a unique and compelling way.

2. What Are the Right Tools to Support This Fundraising Goal?

The right assets will tell your campaign’s story in a way that’s unique and memorable. Each asset serves as a way for your organization to build a case for giving at every step of the way.

Your capital campaign should help the audience imagine the results of their involvement and investment. Architectural renderings are the cornerstone of any capital campaign for a new building, but how do you take them to the next level? Adding your prospective sponsor or donor’s name/logo to the renderings helps make their investment tangible. Including the renderings in an immersive animated video, takes it to the next level. Weaving storytelling and renderings into a game-changing tool.

The right assets form the foundation of a donation conversation. Capital Public Radio effectively used this animated video in their fundraising campaign for new headquarters and performance facilities. 

For a video asset, your organization can cut multiple versions for several purposes, such as creating a shorter clip for an email campaign, social media or paid ads. Then, you can use a longer, more detailed video to accompany fundraising meetings. 

After asking for a donation, you can incorporate other assets that will work passively on your organization’s behalf. Inspirational microsites or leave-behind brochures are just two ways for your organization to continue the conversation.

When you’re working with the right agency partner, your choices of deliverables don’t simply come down to generating a suite of well-designed deliverables. Ultimately, the goal is to figure out how to maximize your efforts and make your fundraising more effective.

3. Does Your Budget Reflect the Level of Impact You’re Looking to Achieve?

Whether your organization is planning a capital campaign to support new facilities, political advocacy, or another mission-specific goal, the initiatives are often outside your marketing budget. Consequently, you may view the expenses associated with its promotion as a cost that needs to be minimized. Instead, you should view your fundraising marketing as an investment in your organization’s future.

The right level of investment for your capital campaign depends on what your organization is trying to achieve. Ultimately, you should invest in a marketing strategy that’s consistent with how much you need to raise. As discussed in this popular TED Talk by Dan Pallotta, “Too many nonprofits, he says, are rewarded for how little they spend — not for what they get done. Instead of equating frugality with morality, he asks us to start rewarding nonprofits for their big goals and big accomplishments (even if that comes with big expenses).

If your organization is looking to raise a significant sum of money with a capital campaign, your marketing budget isn’t a cost — it’s an investment in your goal.

Fundraising Marketing Should Be Strategic and Intentional

Investing in your campaign is important, but effective fundraising initiatives aren’t defined by the flashiest designs or fancy brochures. Success comes down to clearly conveying your organization’s story to the right audience in a compelling way.

Regardless of what fundraising initiative may be in your organization’s future, each campaign should have its own budget. That way, you’ll be in the best position to generate the impact needed to achieve your goals. Thinking strategically to uncover how to generate the greatest impact from your organization’s efforts is the most important investment you can make. If this sounds like the kind of work you need to deliver success for your organization’s next campaign, we should talk.

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