How to Broadly Solicit Donations for Your Nonprofit’s Capital Campaign

By Stan Hutton, Frances Phillips

Early on, when you’re conducting a nonprofit capital campaign among trustees, close friends of the nonprofit, past donors, and foundations, the campaign is in what’s called the “quiet phase.” While it feels safe, you don’t want to stay there.

When the organization has raised 75 percent to 80 percent of the money it needs, the fundraising style changes. The managers are growing confident that the campaign can succeed, and they announce it to the general public through a press conference, tour, gala party, or cornerstone-setting event.

This is the time to seek smaller donations from lots of people — neighbors, friends of friends, and grandparents. You can often raise these contributions through special events or through mailings to individuals, smaller foundations, and businesses.

Smaller gifts from many people construct the base of the pyramid. Don’t discount these gifts. They’re important financially to close out the campaign and also to build a feeling of participation among all your donors.

Annual campaigns and other focused fundraising drives are structured along the gift-table pattern. Whether you’re raising money for your child’s school, an election, or a community fair, a gift table can help shape your plans.