The idea of a capital campaign can be exciting and terrifying all at the same time. Most board members don’t have experience with capital campaigns and are, therefore, afraid of such an enormous fundraising goal.
Board members might be accustomed to your organization narrowly achieving your annual fundraising goals. Thus, the idea that you might be able to raise many times that amount is likely foreign and probably feels unrealistic.
For them to become comfortable with the idea of a campaign, it’s important to educate board members as to how campaigns work and why they are likely to be successful.
Of course, campaigns are calculated risks, but the likelihood is that if you prepare adequately, your organization will raise significantly more than ever before.
7 Campaign Questions Your Board Members Will Want Answered
Here are some questions that your board members will be asking themselves, or may not even know to ask. Proactively answer them and everyone will feel more comfortable and confident with the idea of a campaign as you move forward.
1. Where will the money come from?
The bulk of your campaign’s funding will come from a small handful of truly committed donors. Those donors are likely currently contributing to your organization at small levels and you may not be able to identify them immediately. There are strategies and best practices for helping identify and cultivate those donors as part of the campaign planning process.
2. Why should we do a feasibility study?
Contrary to popular belief, feasibility studies don’t simply tell you whether your campaign is possible. A well-designed feasibility study helps you plan for a successful campaign.
Capital Campaign Pro’s Guided Feasibility Study is a model that helps you identify the best potential donors and strengthen relationships with the people who are likely to give the largest gifts, as well as helps your key leaders develop fundraising skills they’ve never had. The process will build the confidence of the board and staff in understanding how you will implement a campaign.
3. How much will I be expected to give?
Board members are expected to give a generous and meaningful gift for their own personal budget. The gift should be over and above what they normally give to the annual fund (annual fund giving comes first). It should be a multi-year pledge to demonstrate their commitment to the success of the campaign.
During a campaign each board member should be giving as much or more to your organization than they do to any other charity for the duration of the campaign.
4. What will happen to the annual fund?
Well-designed campaigns keep the annual fund front and center. The annual fund should stay the same (or even increase) during and after the campaign.
Each donor will be told of the importance of the annual fund and asked to maintain their giving to the annual fund during the campaign. A campaign gift should be a one-time special gift, over and above annual giving.
5. How long will it take?
Capital Campaigns often take three years, from planning through celebration. They can be shorter or last longer, but the average is three years.
6. How much will it cost?
Your campaign budget should include approximately ten percent of the campaign goal for campaign-related expenses. That means you will need to raise ten percent more than what you need for your project.
While ten percent may seem like a lot of money, it’s a great return on investment. After all, capital campaigns are quite possibly the most cost-effective type of fundraising.
The ten percent budget should include all related campaign expenses, including (but not limited to):
- consulting fees
- additional staff
- donor recognition
- campaign events
- communication materials (videos, brochures, etc.)
7. Should we hire additional staff?
Yes! If you want to raise a multiplier of what you normally raise, there will be additional work. A campaign consultant is hired to bring expertise, and there will still be more work to be done internally.
You might consider hiring a campaign manager or administrative assistant to support the executive director and development staff with existing responsibilities. You will also want to invest in campaign expertise with a consulting group like Capital Campaign Pro.
Board Support Throughout Your Capital Campaign
Answering these questions for board members is not a one-and-done event. Deciding to conduct a campaign is a big decision and will need to be discussed at multiple meetings over the course of several months.
Board member will need to get comfortable and excited about the idea of a campaign, and that will take time. Be patient — with a little help from you, they’ll get there. Another way to help them is with our free guide for board members (see below).
Free Campaign Guide for Board Members
Download our free campaign guide for board members to help them learn everything they need to know about a capital campaign.