Category: Nonprofit Basics

Launching a Capital Campaign

Capital campaigns require significant planning and research prior to launch. Today, we will discuss the steps you need to take in order to launch a successful capital campaign.

Planning

Before you begin, you need to consider the following in order to effectively plan your successful capital campaign.

  • Staff experience – Inexperience can create major issues. If you do not have adequate experience within your staff, it is highly recommended to hire outside campaign counsel to oversee your campaign strategy and implementation.
  • Donors – What do your current donors look like? Write a list of your major donors, loyal donors, and prospective donors.
  • Donor Development – What is your current donor development strategy? Will it strengthen donor relations as it stands now? Will it engage these donors to participate in your capital campaign efforts?
  • Needs Statement – You need this for your grant funding requests as well as your donor request communications. Draft a needs statement that clearly highlights that your community needs this project to be completed. Demonstrate value to the community. Discuss how current realities are not sufficient without this capital project. Substantiate your evidence.
  • Identify similar projects in your community. Is yours different? How? Why would yours be needed?
  • You need the following:
    • Donor Management CRM
    • Properly segmented database
    • Process for acknowledging contributions and providing proper tax-deductible documentation for your donors.
    • Accounting System
    • Campaign management tracking system

Feasibility Study

Feasibility studies provide data to assist your team in preliminary data collection on campaign effectiveness. Information gathered in a well-designed feasibility study will offer:

  • Organization reputation (internal and external perceptions)
  • Where challenges and opportunities may lie in your efforts
  • Campaign leadership identification
  • Areas for campaign improvement

The feasibility study provides insights to design an effective campaign plan and outline. It also reinforces or establishes a realistic campaign goal. It can help determine if your timing in pursuing this campaign is feasible at this time and the best ways to approach it.

Feasibility studies are frequently performed by an external consultant who can provide necessary objectivity. Internal personnel can be involved in:

  • Retaining the consultant – Consultants need to be objective and confidential
  • Leadership – Organizational leaders need to fully cooperate with the process
  • Budget – Create a credible and accurate budget
  • Participants – Participant invitations provided by organization leadership
  • Consultant – Conducts confidential interviews
  • Report – Leadership must review the feasibility study together
  • Action – Leadership works with staff to make necessary changes resulting from the study findings
  • Interviewees – All invited participants must receive the study Executive Summary regardless of participation

Case for Support 

The capital campaign planning committee revises and implements their plan based upon the feasibility study findings. 

The plan must include a strong case for support. The Case for Support is a document that is used to drive the campaign narrative across all campaign channels.

This document will have the following components:

  • Budget – Includes all capital project expenses and all avenues of campaign revenue
  • A gift chart demonstrating the various levels of giving options available to prospective donors and how each level contributes to the campaign goal. This includes giving levels with naming opportunities or other pre-defined and motivational recognition perks.
  • Campaign schedule with giving goals on a timeline to keep target goal in perspective with activities.
  • Campaign gift policies that determine which contributions count toward the campaign goal and when (matching gifts can be a factor). They also provide a clear guideline on what acceptable gifts are.
  • Campaign communication plan
  • Campaign steering committee recruitment – this committee oversees the implementation of the campaign including involvement in major asks.
  • Board training on their responsibilities before, during, and after the campaign.

Key ingredients to an effective workable document are:

  • Strong campaign leadership
  • Strong case for support
  • Workable gift chart
  • Budget
  • Campaign message for all media outlets
  • Campaign timeline defined
  • Launching event defined
  • Campaign closing date defined
  • Donor recognition plan

 

Steering Committee

The steering committee must have invested strong leadership in order to effectively maneuver the essential steps to a successful capital campaign. They must follow the campaign plan. 

People on the steering committee are capable of opening doors to their networks for your organization’s capital campaign goals.  They will be the face of the “asking” done on behalf of your organization and conduct all solicitations. They can also help bolster your board by opening doors to new potential board member interest. Steering committee members need to have clout in the community in order to garner the success your campaign needs. Lending their name to your cause will influence people. Letting them be the spokesperson or mouthpiece for your organization also reassures potential donors that an outside person of importance finds your organization’s efforts worthy of support. Their connections and status can have a strong impact on the numbers of donors and sizes of gifts given. Choose your committee wisely. They may even choose to provide their own financial support to your cause. Other ways in which they can support include hosting campaign events and recruiting other leaders in the community to visibly bolster your campaign.

Planning Matters

If you do not have a board or development staff that fully understand what is required to manage a capital campaign, it is advised that you seek outside professional counsel in order to successfully accomplish your campaign goal. Fundraisers alone cannot accomplish this. Nor can your grant writer. You need a capital campaign strategist to design your plan, which should also include fundraisers and grant writing. Multiple sources and types of support are necessary to meet your campaign goals. These must be managed by different people who specialize in these areas in order to be effective. Most importantly, choose your steering committee wisely. Do a feasibility study, and make a well-designed plan that can be effectively implemented by all parties to ensure success.

Board Involvement in Securing Grants

Board Involvement in Securing Grants

Grants are often considered the focus of the grant writer or grant manager. Many nonprofits do not realize the importance of board involvement in the grant seeking process. The board does have responsibility in financial and legal oversight of the organization, but they also hold responsibility in facilitating pre-award participation to improve grant award success. 

How Much to Request

How Much to Request

How much do you request for each grant application? That is the real question. We have experienced many clients who think they should always ask for the maximum amount that the foundation offers. We do our best to try and help them understand how this works, but today we will write in more detail the process involved for a foundation to consider your request and how appropriate your request amount actually is in the larger scheme of things.

How Budgets Impact Grant Requests (and Funding)

How Budgets Impact Grant Requests (and Funding)

Budgets are the mainstay for your annual funding planning and spending. These are required for a business to run and maintain an appropriate strategy in order to prevent loss and guarantee that expenses can be covered. This also affords the ability to see where shortfalls are and what is required to rectify that gap.  Budgets also significantly impact your grant requests.

Measuring Fundraising Effectiveness (Video)

Measuring Fundraising Effectiveness (Video)

Not sure how to measure your organization’s fundraising effectiveness? Or how to communicate the right message to your donors? Watch this video interview with Andy Davis, director of education at BoardSource. Andy explains how to discuss the cost to raise a dollar with your board members and how to steer the conversation with your donors from costs to focus more on impact.

Email Best Practices

Email Best Practices

Communication is a key factor in the success of any organization, especially nonprofits. Knowing the best way to communicate with your supporters, volunteers, donors, and the community is critical to your mission’s success. Knowing how to garner support through email marketing also increases your support from foundations. The following are email best practices to assist you in your nonprofit’s efforts.

Building a Modernized Fundraising Strategy

Building a Modernized Fundraising Strategy

Nonprofits come in many shapes and sizes. Those who have been around a while are often quite confident in their traditional fundraising strategies. Unfortunately, we are living in an ever-changing world that requires everyone to stay up to speed with the new methods to achieve our organizational goals. Aging demographics means that those who were target donors are one portion of your focus and they may require a different fundraising strategy than the younger demographics who operate quite differently in a world full of technological advancement. This means that nonprofits have to have more than one fundraising strategy and skill-set to ensure the most effective outcomes.

Crafting Your Proposal

Crafting Your Proposal

When clients first sign up with us, we send them a Client Information Form to complete. This form is pretty comprehensive and covers a lot of details that not all of our clients have considered before. Although we do not pressure our clients to submit this form rapidly, we do request that they take the time to complete it thoroughly. The more thorough their responses, the better the grant application we can generate for them. This post discusses one aspect that seems to be a challenge for some of our clients when they first begin.

Building Multiple Revenue Sources

Building Multiple Revenue Sources

The tools, resources, and knowledge included in this guidebook will help you to raise more money through targeted development strategies that are catered to your organization’s unique stage of development, strengths, and community resources.

This was not written by us. We have obtained this guidebook for you from Nonprofit Ready. The direct link

Planning a Fundraising Event – Event Follow Up

Planning a Fundraising Event – Event Follow Up

The final installment of our Planning a Fundraising Event focuses on the event follow up steps you need to take after the event. It is easy to assume that the work is done and all the money that was raised is all that will be raised, but that would be a mistake. The work is not complete after the event, and the fundraising for the event target is also not complete. How you take advantage of the excitement generated by the event after the event is over can have a significant impact on the overall funds raised and the impression made on donors. It can also impact your vendor relationships.

Planning a Fundraising Event – Auction

Planning a Fundraising Event – Auction

So you want to have an auction at your fundraising event. There are simple ways to do this using paper and pen. There are live auctioneers who can run the show. Then there are auction management software solutions. Today, we will discuss the many benefits of utilizing an online auction management software solution.

Planning a Fundraising Event – Fun & Games

Planning a Fundraising Event – Fun & Games

Your event will have many entertaining facets to it. One component that is important to implement is something that makes the evening feel like it is an opportunity to have fun and play games. Games? Well, that can take many meanings, but the traditional concepts such as silent auctions, goal meters, and such are aspects that are frequently associated with competition and winning. These types of activities raise the level of excitement and motivation to participate. Don’t limit your fundraising efforts at the event to mere ticket sales or the traditional direct ask. Induce a social component which will bring a level of deeper community collaboration to participate and do what it takes to raise the funds. Plus, who doesn’t like to be a winner?

Planning a Fundraising Event – Promotion

Planning a Fundraising Event – Promotion

You cannot have a successful fundraising event without effective and sufficient promotion efforts. Once you have everything in place or in progress, you can begin your promotion campaign to spread the news about your exciting fundraising event. You can simplify this process down to four steps.

Planning a Fundraising Event – Website

Planning a Fundraising Event – Website

Today we will focus on why a website that focuses on connecting with your donors and encouraging immediate gift collection is the best investment you can make during and after your event. Your website is its own fundraising administrator that once set up properly, can continue to serve your organization long-term. It is especially helpful when it is used in conjunction with a specific fundraising event.

Planning a Fundraising Event – Partnerships

Planning a Fundraising Event – Partnerships

One of the most crucial things that your fundraising planning entails are your partnerships with local businesses. It is always a good idea to formulate relationships with local businesses throughout your organization’s ongoing efforts to assist you in easier collaboration, negotiation, and ideally better rates or donations to supply your fundraising events.

Planning a Fundraising Event – Theme

Planning a Fundraising Event – Theme

Every fundraising event has a theme. The theme sets the tone and the focus for the event and inspires donors to be taken on a journey of your choosing. This means, you need to consider what the donor might like to experience. Make sure this aligns with your organization’s mission and the program that funds are being raised for at the event. Best of all, you can make this fun!

Planning a Fundraising Event – Budget

Planning a Fundraising Event – Budget

The previous installment of Planning a Fundraising Event focused on setting goals. Within the goal setting, a budget will be developed. This is to help establish the concrete numbers necessary for the cost planning for the fundraising event as well as the establishment of a fundraising goal that exceeds this budget.

Planning a Fundraising Event – Goals

Planning a Fundraising Event – Goals

Every fundraising event starts by determining a fundraising goal. This is the purpose behind the event and the driving force that generates all activities surrounding the fundraising event. Although it might seem obvious, there are many who interpret a fundraising event as a general effort to raise funds for the overall functioning of the organization. Although this can be a goal, it is more critical to identify a concrete goal.

Planning a Fundraising Event – Volunteers

Planning a Fundraising Event – Volunteers

Every nonprofit understands the value of good volunteers. Some are great at handling the smaller time consuming tasks and others are great at generating public support. They can help to make your event run smoothly, and they can reassure donors that they are very pleased to be involved with the organization’s efforts. They are true advocates for your nonprofit in every aspect.

Planning a Fundraising Event – Staff

Planning a Fundraising Event – Staff

This is the first in an 11 part series to walk you through the steps of fundraising event planning. Planning a fundraising event is a major undertaking. As such, it requires a significant amount of planning and budgeting to ensure that the costs and efforts truly bring positive returns. Not only do you want to make your money spent on the fundraiser returned, you want to bring in an abundance of additional funds to provide for your programs and projects. Today’s focus is on staffing.

Fundraising and Word Selection in Campaigns

Fundraising and Word Selection in Campaigns

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Word selection can make or break your fundraising campaign efforts. How do you know when to use what word? The focus is always on how you wish to appeal to the audience and who needs to feel something. More often than not, the word that needs to be focused on, is the word ‘you.’

Boosting Online Engagement for Event Planning

Boosting Online Engagement for Event Planning

Qualifying for grants requires additional sources of income. This takes the form of individual donors, other grant sources, and fundraising events. Fundraising events are not only a great source of sustainable revenue, they are also fantastic opportunities to encourage supporter engagement. This level of engagement makes supporters feel included and helps to reinforce what your organization does and how their support truly helps your organization achieve its goals. Fundraising events come in many forms: galas, street fairs, silent auctions, and more. Planning the event is crucial, and the supporter engagement must be planned intelligently to ensure strong engagement before, during, and after the event. This post is designed to assist you in utilizing the various online supporter engagement opportunities available to you.

Multichannel Donor Relationship Development

Multichannel Donor Relationship Development

What are multichannel donors and why do you want them? Multichannel donors contribute to your organization in multiple ways. They donate through different platforms and volunteer their services to your cause. They will be the most engaged and most consistent contributors to your nonprofit organization’s efforts. So, how do you obtain multichannel donors?

Welcoming New Donors with an Email Series

Welcoming New Donors with an Email Series

First donations are opportunity to cultivate a long-term relationship. While not all donors will contribute regularly, it is hard to know by a first contribution who will be there in the long run. Some small donors turn out to be your largest donors years later. No donor should be treated as an after-thought, regardless of how small their contribution. They could also potentially become great community allies or volunteers. Value varies, but all are important. So how can you nurture that new donor to put your best foot forward in fostering a long-term relationship? The first step is to send a welcome email series.

Fundraising and Donor Relationships

Fundraising and Donor Relationships

Today, we will discuss how all actions your nonprofit takes are interconnected. Every decision and action taken by all segments of your organization will impact every single one of your strategies, so the key focus today is on how to plan your strategies to ensure that they enhance the efforts of the other parts. If done correctly, better contributions, support, and functionality will be achieved.

Major Gifts

Major Gifts

Major gifts are a large component in your budgeting and fundraising strategy. Major gifts mean different things to different people, but there is a common understanding that without major gifts and donors, most nonprofits would be struggling more significantly and they may not maintain financial sustainability.

Donor Stewardship

Donor Stewardship

Procuring new donors is painstaking work and takes many hours for all development professionals in the nonprofit world. Much like the sales process in for-profit industries, closing on first time gifts can require continuous follow-up, repeat efforts to secure a conversation to close the gift solicitation, while ensuring that the donor feels heard, respected, and valued for their contribution to your nonprofit’s efforts. Closing the gift is not the end.

Board Member Philanthropic Involvement

Board Member Philanthropic Involvement

It is essential that all members of the organization, including the board members, are actively engaged in all fundraising activities. To do so not only solidifies their purpose on the board, it also asserts their determination to see the nonprofit thrive. Disinterest relating to fundraising has to go beyond personal comfort and become something bigger than the individual. Charitable giving is currently rising above $400 billion in the United States. As thrilling as that may sound, it does not come by easily. Those dollars are in heavy competition with many others who feel that their organization deserves the funding more than yours. Personal donations, government grants, corporate gifts, private foundations, and other fundraising platforms are continuously expanding. Smaller nonprofits are not finding themselves on the positive end of the receiving stick.

Tips for 501(c)(3) Compliance

Tips for 501(c)(3) Compliance

Launching your 501(c)(3) and receiving that coveted letter of determination is just the beginning. In order to maintain your 501(c)(3) status, there are compliance regulations you must adhere to. Without complying with these regulations, you can lose your tax exempt status or even have your organization administratively dissolved due to failure to adhere to administrative compliance regulations.