Nonprofit Fundraising: What to Do Before Launching a Capital Campaign - dummies

Nonprofit Fundraising: What to Do Before Launching a Capital Campaign

By Stan Hutton, Frances Phillips

After your nonprofit board decides it may want to raise funds for a capital project, seek outside assistance in the form of workshops, classes, or consulting. Convincing yourself that your capital campaign can work is easy, so testing your vision on others is important.

Possible resources for insight and information include the following:

  • A program officer at a local foundation or staff in your city’s economic-development office or regional community loan fund may be able to suggest other nearby resources.

  • The Nonprofit Finance Fund may offer programs in your area, including low-cost consultations, tools to analyze your financial position, workshops about raising capital, and loans for capital projects.

  • Colleagues who have conducted capital campaigns may be able to guide you to resources they used.

    Your board may contain members with professional experience in financial lending and investing, architecture, construction, real estate, city government, and law; all can provide valuable assistance. If your board doesn’t include such professional skills, its members may know professionals who do.

You need to begin raising funds from individuals and institutions that know your organization and care deeply about its work. Assess your organization’s primary sources of contributed income. How detailed and accurate are your donor records? Who’s been donating money to your cause and at what level?

Critically important in this scan of supporters is identifying a person or a small team of people with resources, dedication, and good connections who would be willing to lead your campaign.

Begin identifying sources beyond your current supporters. Gather information about major capital resources in your area. For example, which individual donors’ names appear on the walls of many nonprofits’ buildings? Which foundations and corporations?

When identifying possible resources for your capital campaign, don’t overlook loans, which often play an important role in facility projects, both as standard mortgages and in helping organizations complete projects on time. Often donors of large gifts don’t write checks for the full amount of their pledges immediately, so organizations borrow some of the money they need to finish construction while waiting to receive those gifts.

If you’re interested in loans, find out the following information first: Is your region eligible for federal community development investment funds? (Visit the Coalition of Community Development Financial Institutions to find out more.) Does your area have a community loan fund? Do any local foundations make program-related investments (low-interest loans) to nonprofits? Do any local foundations guarantee bank loans for nonprofits?