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Organizing a Capital Campaign


Article By William C. Krueger

After a thorough pre-campaign planning process (feasibility study), the next usual step in the process is to conduct an Organizational Phase. This phase has several objectives and creates the tools necessary to successfully implement the campaign.

Case Statement

The case statement is the benefits-oriented explanation of the fund raising campaign. From this document, the campaign brochure, campaign prospectus, video, newsletters and other materials will be created.

The case statement should create the vision of the campaign and explain all the details of the campaign and reasons why the organization is undertaking a major building project. Most important, it should highlight all of the benefits that a successful campaign will provide.

The best way to prepare a high-quality case statement is to evaluate other organizations' case statements and use the best of each. Remember, your case statement may be very different. What is important is that it is concise, easy to read, and prominently features the benefits your prospective campaign will bring about.


Fund Raising Prospectus – Soliciting Internal Leaders

Upon completion of the case statement, a simple prospectus can be used until a formal campaign brochure can be produced. In fact, considering the sophistication of many desktop publishing programs and color printers, smaller campaigns can create a prospectus that is fairly close to brochure quality – at a lower price.

A prospectus consists of a cover sheet, a cover letter, the case statement, and a simple campaign gift intention form. These documents are bound together with a clear plastic cover and a vinyl or card stock back and make an effective presentation piece. Since they are used primarily with internal leaders, there may not be a need to wait until the formal brochure is completed.

The case statement can be punctuated with graphics and/or pictures and, if done correctly, acts as a thorough review of the reasons for the campaign. The cover should be personalized with the prospect’s name and the cover letter must contain a specific request for funding.

The gift intention form can be very simple and serves as an interim gift card until the official pledge cards are printed as part of the campaign brochure.


Fund Raising Brochure

The fund raising brochure should follow the case statement as a guide. Much of the case statement’s text can be used in the brochure, but keep in mind that a brochure is a much more graphically appealing document. Don’t clutter the brochure with too much text, and make sure the text you use is valuable and helpful in bringing the reader to the conclusion that the campaign is worth supporting.

Also, create the brochure so that it is a tool for the volunteers and other solicitors. Start with the first page and outline the challenges and summary of why the organization is doing what it is doing. Use the middle pages to explain in detail what the campaign is about. Use the final page as a summary and sales vehicle to encourage the donor to give.

The inside cover might have a folder that will allow for a special letter to be inserted. This letter would be the formal request for funding. The back folder can also hold the pledge card.

Create a high-quality brochure! Donors evaluate the campaign by the quality of the materials. Don’t make it flashy or too expensive, and convey the complete story in a graphically appealing manner. Involving a competent graphic designer can greatly enhance the quality of the brochure.
Campaign Brochure Example


Video Presentation

Videos are being used more and more frequently as vehicles for graphically explaining the case for support. Creating a video that boosts the likelihood of receiving a gift is a process that requires considerable time, effort and skill.

Just as you wouldn't copy your campaign brochure on the copy machine, neither should you attempt to shoot your own video with your own equipment. Hire an experienced video producer. You should be able to find a video producer in the yellow pages and many television stations have video production capabilities. The average cost for the video is about $1,500 per finished minute and, ideally, the video should be about seven minutes long.

Creating a video script requires a clear and concise thought process. Many non-profit videos play heavy on the emotional effects (hungry kids, sick people, the elderly, etc.), but don't convey a high degree of new information. Use emotion to grab the viewer’s attention, outline the challenge, explain how the organization will meet the challenge, what the benefits to a successful campaign will be, the financial information, and end with an emotional appeal.

The video should be taken and shown to every prospective donor. Mailing the video in lieu of a visit is not effective. Explain that by showing the video, the prospective donor can see and hear what the campaign is all about, and by seeing the video, the meeting will be shorter.
Example Video Script

Purchase a small, portable DVD player and take it on each visit. A well-done video will ensure that no matter what is actually said in the solicitation meeting, the full case and campaign details will be explained.



Identifying Campaign Leaders

Campaign leadership can come from a variety of sources including:
  • Past Board Members
  • Volunteers
  • Community Leaders
  • Corporate Leaders
  • Board Members
  • Elected Officials
  • Current Board Members
  • Industry Leaders
A great source of campaign leaders is from previous successful campaigns in the community. Review past campaigns, and seek the involvement of those leaders in your campaign.


Qualities of Campaign Leadership

Campaign leaders should be committed to the success of the campaign and have knowledge of the mission of the organization and how that organization serves the community. Ideally, the campaign leader will also make a "leadership" gift.

A leadership gift is not necessarily, but often is, judged by the size of the gift. A leadership gift is one that provides leadership by its amount. That may mean a leader could make a $10,000 gift if a $10,000 gift would impress other potential leaders. If the leader you are recruiting is a multi-millionaire or independently wealthy (or is perceived in the community to be super-wealthy), then a $10,000 gift is not going to impress anyone.

The key here is to find someone that is truly committed – time and money – to the campaign. In addition to the gift, the leader should be willing to allow his/her name to be used in recruiting and soliciting others.

The most important contribution of great leaders is their willingness to open doors to other potential leaders and donors. Having the right person ask is almost always THE critical part of the campaign process. The campaign leader should be highly respected and someone that others will welcome into their homes or offices and listen to what the leader has to say. If a proposed leader can’t open the door to potential leaders and donors, then that person is not a leader …. he/she is a donor.


Recruitment of Campaign Leadership

Recruiting campaign leaders is a relatively straightforward process. The challenge usually comes out of a fear of actually doing it. Together with the board and/or other key leaders, a list of potential leaders should be created. These leaders should consist of the best leaders imaginable in the community – and should include any past donors, leaders, or volunteers for an organization.

Once the list is developed, then it is as simple as identifying a current leader of the organization who will set up an appointment (see the section of this web site on solicitation guide). Include in the cover letter of the prospectus a clear request to serve as a volunteer in the campaign.

Capital Quest has had tremendous success in involving new leaders in campaigns by asking them to do three things, and promising them one thing:
  • Ask them to allow you to use their name as a supporter. Then create a growing list of these leaders. Once you have a few well-respected leaders, an organization usually finds other leaders will choose to be leaders as well. As you recruit a leader, tell other potential leaders about your past recruitment successes.


  • Ask them to open doors to other prospective leaders. Explain that you would like to return and meet with them again to ask their guidance in reviewing other prospects and seeking their help in arranging meetings with a pre-determined number of prospects, usually five. This limits their time involvement, yet allows them to be a big part of the campaign.


  • Ask them to make a financial gift. Ultimately, fund raising is what it is about so you have to ask for a specific gift.


Tell them that they will not have to come to committee meetings. Community leaders hate committee meetings – especially meetings that drag on and don’t accomplish any tangible goals. Explain to the potential leader that whatever time they can spend on the campaign will be spent doing the one thing the organization can’t do without them – opening doors to other potential leaders and donors.

Successful recruitment is also dependent upon making wise use of the campaign leaders’ time.
  • Be succinct in the request
  • Be specific about responsibilities
  • Productive use of time during campaign


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