The Nonprofit Research Collaborative (AFP, Blackbaud, Center on Philanthropy at IU, Foundation Center, Giving USA, Guidestar and National Center for Charitable Statistics) released its Summer/Early Fall 2011 report in September 2011. As always, there were many interesting key findings related to fundraising activities of responding charities. While we are a long way from the high-water days of 2007 when 65% said they experienced growth in donations, giving remains steady and slowly growing; 44% of responding organizations reported an increase in giving in 2011.
The one notable area of exception to the growth numbers above are those organizations that were in a formal special purpose, capital campaign or endowment campaign as of July 2011. There were many important findings from the section of the report dealing with formal campaigns. Here are some of those findings:
Results from Organizations in Formal Campaign
- 12% of responding organizations were in a campaign, 34% were planning a capital campaign or special purpose campaign
- Average time since the last capital campaign: 7.7 years
- 62% of those organizations in a capital campaign were seeing a growth in giving compared to 44% of all respondents
- Average capital campaign length was 2.94 years and average goal $6.6 million (when excluding 2 capital campaigns over $500 million)
- Only 37% said that a feasibility study was used to help set their financial goal
All of these findings lead to some very important conclusions.
- Pent-up demand – Many organizations have put off their capital and special needs as long as they can. The increased demand for services and stagnant funding growth since late 2008 have created urgent needs to move forward with capital campaign planning.
- The myth of decreased giving – Statistics show that when an organization plans well and articulates their mission, impact and needs effectively, giving increases; even when in a capital campaign.
- Planning for unqualified success – Many organizations make the mistake of imposing their needs and wants on their constituents. This is manifested by sometimes setting unrealistic goals based solely on project need. The value of a well-organized and insightful feasibility study conducted by an experienced and independent third party is immeasurable in protecting the organization from a negative experience and defining the early terms for success.
Effective planning for a formal campaign can’t start early enough and should be a comprehensive, collaborative process. More organizations will be moving forward with capital campaigns in the next couple of years than we have seen in many years simply based on the fact they can’t wait any longer. Here are some tips:
Steps to Planning for a Successful Capital Campaign
- Start now!
- Develop a comprehensive Capital Campaign Business Plan including rationale, impact, funding needs and scenarios, operational projections, project and fundraising timeline and potential fundraising approach.
- Establish a realistic timeline that allows proper planning, a disciplined capital campaign approach and that matches cash flow projections with project funding needs.
- Hire an experienced third-party to conduct a comprehensive Planning and Feasibility study. No other method will provide the same insight and information as asking the opinions of those leaders and donors who will ultimately be the ones to make it happen.
For more information about The Fundraising Resource Group’s relational fundraising services, visit our website at www.thefundraisingresource.com