To Campaign or Not to Campaign…

That is the question…

When your organization faces a big challenge – to grow beyond its current bounds, to transform to a new level of impact, whether by adding programs, facilities, or capacity – the question inevitably arises whether to embark on a capital campaign. While starting a capital campaign may seem like a forgone conclusion, a fundraising project of that magnitude will require significant time and resources to ensure you raise the money you need.

And here’s a secret: Nonprofit capital campaigns are not just about fundraising. They’re really about your cause’s capacity. Does your organization have the systems, resources, and operating processes that will support it through the upcoming transformation? Will those systems and resources provide the foundation for the bigger, better, more impactful cause your organization will become?

Here are some points to consider before you begin that will help you position your organization for success in an upcoming campaign.

  • Nonprofit capital campaigns take a lot of care and attention. It’s all-hands-on deck! What will happen if your leadership dedicates 70% or more of their attention to the campaign? Do you have strong systems in place so the organization’s mission will continue to be carried out while the campaign is in progress?Nonprofit capital campaigns


  • A need “to grow” or “keep the doors open” is not enough of a platform on which to build a campaign. The clearer the vision, the greater the likelihood of campaign success. Have you specifically identified what you hope to accomplish with the funds raised? A new building? New technology? Have you identified the breadth and scope of what you need, and does your board understand the vision and whole-heartedly support it?
  • For a capital campaign to be successful, the impetus will come from the board. How active and involved with fundraising is your organization’s board right now? Will additional training be needed? What additional resources will be needed to support the board members as they support the campaign?
  • Nonprofit capital campaigns require significant management. It’s like a whole organizational structure in addition to the operations of your organization. Will your executive director, development and marketing staff and committees be able to manage the organization and a campaign? Or, will you need additional staff/committees?

Nonprofit capital campaigns

  • Ongoing fundraising continues during a campaign. If you’re raising money now for your mission and your cause depends on those funds to operate, you want to be sure you have enough attention to sustain your current fundraising programs.  What types of fundraising are you doing now and how successful are your efforts?  What’s your mix of events, grantwriting, solicitations, annual funds and what do you expect them to produce during a campaign? Evaluate ALL of your fundraising programs.


Assessing your organization’s current capacity will help you build the foundation for campaign success. You’ll find areas to strengthen, ideas to develop, and resources to cultivate. With these new directions now in mind, you’ve taken the first step to starting the transformation a capital campaign brings to a cause. Do you want some extra support as you prepare for a capital campaign? You may be interested in Fundraising Coaching. Click here to share some information about your cause and request an introductory session.

Find out if Fundraising Coaching is right for you

You’ll receive recommendations to help you get the fundraising results you need. Be sure to swing by next week for part two of To Campaign or Not to Campaign where we dig into the next step you’ll want to use to make sure your campaign is the biggest success it can be.



Image sources:, Flickr: V-rider

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Love the question that asks what your organization will look like if your leaders spend 70% of their time on a campaign. Having just observed a long-standing organization test the waters with community donors about their willingness to support a capital campaign, these questions you ask make so much sense. In the end, they decided to retrench and put more infrastructure in place before revisiting the campaign topic. A very wise decision. Thanks for sharing what others should consider before pushing play on a capital campaign.

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