In my experience, the best capital campaign results coming from the pairing of 1) a project that the community wants and sees a vital need for; 2) a passionate group of community leaders that will propel the campaign forward; and 3) an experienced fundraising counsel that can provide ongoing guidance and insight from day one. The combination of the right project, the right leaders and the right counsel has worked over and over again since before fundraising was even called fundraising (Ben Franklin used the same formula).
Because of this, I prefer to be there by your side from day one. Consulting engagements typically begin a full year before the campaign is officially launched. At this point the project is usually fairly well hashed out, plans/schematics are in development and a rough project cost (campaign goal) is known.
I do not follow the traditional model of a formal outsourced feasibility study. I don’t want you to spend $10,000+ on a 30+ page document that will just sit on a bookshelf. And I really don’t want you to outsource the opportunity to have a conversation with your donors. Rather, I prefer to coach you in the process of assessing your organization’s readiness for a campaign both internally and externally. This way you deepen your relationship with your donors through the process and build the skills of your fundraising team.
After campaign readiness is assessed, I help you refine your messaging, structure the campaign, train your volunteers for success and launch the campaign. I then provide ongoing coaching support for the duration of the campaign as your trusted resource, and I’m not afraid to prod a bit if momentum starts to wane. I’ve seen what works and I know how to make sure your campaign is successful.
Here are the details of how I typically work with nonprofit organizations throughout their capital campaigns:
Phase 1 – Internal Capacity Assessment
Capital campaigns are hard work. They often place additional burdens on already overtaxed staff, volunteers and fundraising systems. Ensuring that the organization has the internal capacity to support the additional work of a capital campaign is the first step on the path to success.
This phase begins with the completion of a comprehensive survey to learn about your current fundraising efforts, systems, and staffing. This information is further clarified through an onsite meeting. A summary report is then compiled and delivered providing an assessment of the organization’s internal capacity to support a capital campaign. If necessary, specific recommendations are made in order to improve the organization’s capacity (this includes templates, samples and vendor recommendations where appropriate).
This phase includes one onsite meeting (60 minutes) and one follow up call.
Phase Cost = $850 Phase Duration = 45 Days
Phase 2 – Messaging Refinement
Once the organization is internally prepared for a campaign, a compelling message (case for support) should be developed. This document is typically 3 to 5 pages in length and answers all of the key questions about the campaign (who/what/why/when/where/how/etc.). But it must also be written in a way that compels the prospective donor to want to become a part of the campaign.
In phase 2 we assist staff in the development of this piece. First, we provide a template and video training session on the keys to writing a compelling case for support. Once staff complete an initial draft, we review it and make suggestions to strengthen it. After staff completes a second draft, it is then shared with another consultant, one of the top case writer’s in the profession, for additional insight. A final draft is then presented for your approval and use.
All work for this phase is conducted remotely.
Phase Cost = $850 Phase Duration = 45 Days
Phase 3 – External Capacity Assessment Guidance
Once internal capacity is addressed and the campaign message is refined, it is time to put that message in front of potential donors. This is the phase that is most commonly fully outsourced to consultants via a traditional campaign feasibility study. However, I do not believe in this approach. It is far more productive for you to have these conversations with potential donors than someone else. Why would you want to outsource your donor relationships?
So instead, I train your campaign leadership team in how to request these feedback appointments with prospective donors and conduct the conversations. The insight that you obtain through these meetings will show any required adjustments to the campaign structure, timing, messaging and goal. By having these initial conversations with donors and getting their feedback, you are planting the seeds for an ask once the campaign launches.
This phase includes one onsite meeting/training (60 minutes).
Phase Cost = $675 Phase Duration = 90 Days
Phase 4 – Campaign Structure & Planning Assistance
At this point you are ready to start building out the campaign structure and processes. At this phase’s initial meeting we provide a campaign toolkit which includes: campaign structure recommendations, campaign stages & timeline, volunteer roles (job descriptions), campaign volunteer recruitment guidelines, table of gifts (gift range chart), potential naming opportunities, and campaign collateral recommendations & samples.
Through follow up calls and email correspondence, we work with you to customize and finalize these documents for your campaign. The prospective donor feedback obtained in Phase 3 also informs this process. Once complete, you are prepared to recruit your campaign volunteers and begin publicly talking about the pending launch of the campaign
This phase includes one onsite meeting (60 minutes) and two check in calls.
Phase Cost = $1,225 Phase Duration = 90 Days
Phase 5 – Campaign Launch Support
Once the campaign structure is set and volunteer recruitment is well under way, we sit down to make final preparations for the campaign. This includes meeting with the campaign leadership team to answer their questions and to ensure that everyone is comfortable moving forward. A discussion regarding campaign launch events (e.g. press conference, hardhat tours, etc.) and strategies to maintain campaign momentum also takes place.
After campaign volunteer recruitment is completed, I conduct a training session for your volunteers. Having an “outside expert” conduct this training gives your campaign extra clout and allows us to assess the comfort level and preparedness of your volunteer team. This training covers getting appointments, having the conversation, making the ask and follow up procedures.
This phase includes one onsite meeting (60 minutes), one onsite training (90 minutes) and two check in calls.
Phase Cost = $1,225 Phase Duration = 90 Days
Phase 6 – Campaign Coaching
Once the campaign launches, I continue to support your efforts through monthly coaching calls. These calls provide insight into typical campaign challenges. Often times specific donor strategies are discussed to close key campaign gifts. Campaign events and communication are often covered as well. These calls ensure that you have the support needed when the going gets tough.
Rather than guessing at the length of the campaign and your future needs, I prefer to take things one quarter (3 months) at a time once we reach the coaching phase. This allows us both the flexibility to adjust as necessary and ensure that you aren’t paying for guidance that you end up not needing (after that unexpected five million dollar donation from your newfound friend).
This phase includes one monthly 45 minute coaching call and unlimited email support.
Phase Cost = $200 per month Phase Duration = 12 to 18 months
The total cost of these services ranges from $7,150 to $8,350 depending on the length of the campaign. Campaigns that extend past 18 months would incur additional coaching charges.
The costs typically are spread over multiple years, as follows:
- Year 1 = $4,750 (phases 1 thru 5)
- Year 2 = $2,400 (start of phase 6)
- Year 3 = $0 to $1,200+ (conclusion of phase 6)
For organizations with office locations more than 50 miles from Mechanicsburg, PA, mileage would be billed at the rate of $.58 per mile. For organizations more than 200 miles from Mechanicsburgsburg, PA a per meeting charge of $750 will be billed. There are four in person meetings/trainings included in this proposal.
Unlimited email support is provided while work is actively being conducted in a phase (within the listed timeframes). In person meetings and calls are only included where noted. Additional on-site (60 minute) meetings can be added as needed at the rate of $300 each (plus travel charges). Additional calls (30 minute) can be added as needed at the rate of $75 each.
The full cost of each phase is billed at the start of work on that phase, with payment due within 30 days. Coaching is prepaid and billed quarterly.