A Capital Campaign is a significant step in the life of any organization. It requires a major commitment of resources, including staff and volunteer time.
A campaign study is an important first step in a capital campaign. This work is sometimes called a “Feasibility Study,” and is intended to help answer the question: “Should my organization engage in a capital campaign?” We believe that the answers you really need go beyond a simple “yes or no.” You need to know “yes, and here’s how,” or “yes, but not until…” A Campaign Study offers detailed insight into how you can best move forward.
A campaign study will:
- review your baseline development practices;
- identify any potential challenges you may face in a campaign;
- result in a written case statement for your campaign;
- create the strategy;
- set the goals;
- identify potential major donors;
- identify necessary leadership.
Is a study absolutely necessary before starting a campaign? While you may not choose to do a study as a separate process, the work that is accomplished in a study is essential to a campaign. All of the components listed above must be accomplished for a campaign to have a high chance of success. Doing the work as a separate process allows an organization to really focus on this preparatory phase before officially starting a campaign.
The Campaign Itself
There are three ways in which consultants offer support for a Capital Campaign:
- The consulting firm provides a full time staff person to your organization for an extended period of time, such as a year. This staff member typically sets up an office at your site and stays nearby. The person performs the functions both of developing the strategy and completing many of the the tasks of the campaign.
- The second option is that the consulting firm plays a coaching role. Together with local leadership, they develop the strategy and then train staff and volunteers to accomplish the tasks of the campaign. The training and guidance is done typically over an extended period of time, such as 12-18 months. The consultant is with you in your location on a regular basis, but not full-time.
- The final option for consultant support is more of an “on call” or “as needed” role. This firm spends more limited time with your organization but is available to guide and direct at critical junctures. They offer valuable insight and perspective in the overall strategy and in the work tasks. On-site time is more limited, and contact is more often via conference call.
We focus our campaign support services in the second option. This is a good option for organizations who do not have seasoned development staff, who are less experienced in campaigns, and who may not have the initial capital required for a full time consultant. We also feel that it helps the organization to learn and adopt good fund development practices, and so strengthens them for the future.