Are You Ready for a Capital Campaign? Answer These Six Questions!


To reach full potential, many nonprofits need to grow. That growth often involves expanding infrastructure and facilities and requires conducting a capital campaign to raise the funds to bring the project to life. Is your nonprofit organization ready for a capital campaign? Answer these six questions to find out.

1. Is there a quantifiable benefit to expanding or improving our infrastructure? 
Conduct a needs assessment with a professional consultant or an unbiased employee to determine the quantifiable benefit that advances your mission and that can be shared with philanthropists.

2. Does our board of directors support the project?
Ask your board members privately and individually if they think the project is appropriate and if they are willing to provide their time and treasure to advance it. You want their personal commitment and their willingness to hold you and the balance of your organization's leadership responsible to see the project through.

3. Are your numbers current and realistic?
Your budget should consider cost estimates no more than one year old, pre-campaign costs like architect and feasibility study, and whether you will have enough cash through completion or if you need to take out bridge loans.

4. Do we need to do a capital campaign feasibility study?
If you can answer "yes" to at least three of the questions below, then you do not necessarily need to complete a feasibility study. 

  1. Do you have a donor-approved case for support? Click here to learn more about cases for support.
  2. Do you know what your donors like and dislike about your organization and your project? Explore why this is important.
  3. Do you know what your donors are willing to give and why? Download the gift chart builder to show the estimated size and quantity of major gifts you will need.
  4. Does your organization's leadership have extensive capital campaign experience?
  • If you answered "yes" to at least three of these questions, then continue to the next question.
  • If you need to learn more, explore the links before you move forward with a feasibility study.

5. Do we know what type of consulting firm to hire?
Look for a firm with experience in similar projects and communities, and a firm that earns your trust through excellent references and individuals who will work with you throughout the campaign at the level of intensity that you need. 

  • If you know what type of consulting firm will best fit your needs, then continue to the last question.
  • If you need to learn more about the types of firms that exist and which will work best for your organization, then read here about types of consulting firms.

6. Do we know when to start?
Work backwards from breaking ground and account for a 3-to-4-month feasibility study, a 10-to-24-month campaign, and a 3-to-5-year pledge redemption period.

You've answered the six questions, now take action!