There’s a critical piece of information missing from most capital campaign feasibility studies:
The amount of money an organization’s constituency can actually give.
We need the answer to that before we can set the goal, right?
And yet… most of the time nonprofit organizations launch their campaigns without knowing the full answer to that question. They wait until after they’ve launched to finally get all the pieces in place. Which seems kind of crazy to me.
Here’s how planning for a campaign normally happens:
- The nonprofit hires a capital campaign consultant to help them set the goal, outline the fundraising priorities and come up with a campaign plan.
- The consultant looks at similar organizations in similar markets with similar constituencies to see what those organizations have raised successfully in their most recent campaigns.
- He or she factors in how generous the organization’s constituency was during the last campaign, and what the organization needs to raise money for.
- The consultant interviews executive leadership, the board, and a selection of key major donors to get a sense of their interest in and commitment to a potential major campaign.
From that, a fundraising goal is set.
And it’s a good start. But like I said, it’s missing something. A Texas-sized something. With extra frosting. And that something is a wealth screening.
Campaigns are a big deal
Capital campaigns are the largest, most expensive and time intensive undertaking that a nonprofit organization will undergo. Instead of doing a wealth screening after the goal has been set, we need to use the screening to help set the goal.
You may be surprised and encouraged at your organization’s potential or soberly prepared for a long slog ahead. Or maybe you’ll decide to put it off for a year or two until you build up your base. No matter which way you go, you will be better prepared than you’ve ever been before.
- Get a screening done early, as part of your pre-campaign due diligence.
- Use the results to inform your final goal figures in collaboration with all of the estimates and interviews.
If you’ve had trouble in the past getting good results from a screening, come back here next week when I’ll discuss why most screening dollars go wasted, and what you can do to avoid falling into the same trap.