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When it comes to capital campaigns, there tends to be a quiet phase, then a public announcement at 50-75% of the goal, and sequential solicitation.

All of these are standard best practices, but there are exceptions to every rule.

The Issue

Currently, I’m working with an organization that has been thrust into a capital campaign after learning the building they rent space in is going to be torn down. They were notified in the spring that they need to be out by the end of the year. This is a grassroots organization, having been around for half a century, but without a development department.

This isn’t a matter of allowing an organization to close. This is a matter of maintaining and growing vital services for a vulnerable population. I agreed to take this on, but we are doing things a bit differently.

The Process

I insisted we get their donor database, as well as their volunteers, screened, using DonorSearch. I put together a campaign plan, gift acceptance policy, confidentiality policy, board expectations, and pledge forms, and also vetted the highest rated from the screenings. I performed some ask trainings and trained the board as well, all in compliance with the business standards.

However, there were some key differences.

We went somewhat public in early July at 30% of the goal. Why? It was necessary. We are using the bully pulpit of a major fundraising event to spread the word and leverage a very necessary sense of urgency to current supporters. We are handing out pledge forms to each attendee and have created a handout to share next steps.

A volunteer campaign committee chair has also stepped up, someone who is known in the community and respected. I’ve gotten him up to speed and we are starting to tackle the high net worth solicitations, and we are at 50% of the goal.

The Results

Now we’re planning a media blitz in August with an announcement of what has been raised to date to make it truly public. And we are focusing on some major foundations that want to keep the vital services this organization provides available and flourishing.

There are a lot of growing pains occurring, but in the end, this fine nonprofit will be stronger and more self-sufficient.

About the Author

Linda S. Garrison, CFRE is the principal of Acuity Consulting LLC. She is a seasoned nonprofit expert with outstanding success in major gift fundraising, campaign management and board development. Additional capabilities include data analysis, donor research, grant writing, training/public speaking, superior writing skills, social media, annual fundraising, and client/donor relations. Linda has significant experience in capital campaign planning and feasibility studies, as well as campaign consulting. Secondarily, she brings a background in media relations to clients, allowing her to serve as a donor communications resource.

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