What You Need to Know about Building a Facility for Your Nonprofit - dummies

What You Need to Know about Building a Facility for Your Nonprofit

By Stan Hutton, Frances N. Phillips

What if no existing building suits your nonprofit organization’s needs? You may be in for a major effort to substantially renovate a space or construct a new building. If you’re one of these brave and hardy types, here is some information you might need before you jump into the project.

Even a small organization with the right board and campaign leadership can manage a successful capital campaign if its expectations are reasonable. So can organizations whose projects are happening at the right place and at the right time — such as those organizations based in community redevelopment areas or low-interest bank loans for community development.

To determine whether your organization can manage a capital campaign, you need to plan (no surprise, right?). Your facility plan should ask hard questions, including the following:

  • What will the project cost?
  • Are your board members in a position to contribute to a capital campaign above and beyond their usual annual gifts to your organization?
  • Do public or foundation resources in your region support capital projects? Are they likely contributors?
  • Do you have staff knowledge and time to contribute to this effort?

Having examined these preliminary questions, organizations that are considering capital campaigns often go through a planning step called a feasibility study — research most often led by a consultant who interviews people who support the organization and other generous donors in their communities whose grants and gifts are essential to its success.

As with other types of planning, you’re gathering information from key stakeholders, but you’re focusing your attention on those who may become contributors. Through these interviews, the consultant estimates how much the organization is likely to raise with a capital campaign.