GuideStar Blog

Capital Campaign Basics: 7 Steps to Success


22875373301_21b10a5a21_n.jpgFor the past couple of months,
I've been working with Margaret, a musician and composer, who is working to raise $15,000 for a performance of her composition in New York next year.

She's planning to raise the money through USA Artists, a crowd-funding platform just for art projects, and contacted me because she was anxious and afraid she'd fail.

Margaret couldn't imagine how just putting her case up on line and then publicizing the project through Twitter and Facebook would result in the money she needed.  And she was right to be worried.

Margaret needs to lay a lot of groundwork with her most likely donors before she even puts up her USA Artists site if she's going to be successful. That way she'll have some early momentum when she kicks off her crowd-funding campaign.

Even Small Capital Campaigns Need a Plan

Margaret is a newcomer to fundraising. To her, $15,000 seemed like $1,000,000.

So when she came to me for advice, I knew I had to outline a process for her that would be simple enough so she'd feel empowered to carry through.

No complicated prospect research. No expensive contact management systems.

Margaret needed a clear common sense approach to effective fundraising, good writing skills, an excel spread sheet, a modicum of courage and a strong will to get it done.

With just a few Skype calls and passing some simple documents back and forth, I helped Margaret get her capital campaign off to a good start. She's now in the thick of talking to donors and she's having remarkable success.

Though Margaret's fundraising goal is small by many standards, the simple program I developed with her follows  the very same steps you will use even if you are raising many millions.

So, if you're in the midst of a capital campaign and feeling lost, just check through these seven steps and see where you are and where you need to go! It'll help you cut through the clutter.

7 Steps to Every Successful Fundraising Campaign:

Step 1: Clarify Your Goals
Clarify your fundraising goals

Step 2: Write Campaign Materials
Write up simple, clear, effective material about the project

Step 3: Develop a Gift Range Chart
Through the years I’ve learned that not only are these little charts helpful, they are the sine qua non…the indispensable tool…for your capital campaign.

Step 4: Inspired by a Simple Campaign Plan
Make a list of all of the prospects you have for each giving level

Step 5: Contact Your Best Prospects
Start contacting the "best" prospects about the project

Step 6: Use the gift range chart when you ask for gifts
Ask for gifts in person using the gift range chart as a guide

Step 7: Follow Up
Follow up, follow up and follow up with every donor

And there you have it. Seven simple steps.

Every campaign uses them, but in larger campaigns they sometimes get lost in the cloud of complexity. Cut through the fog, and this is what you've got.

In the coming days I'll write on each of these steps, so you can see how they apply to your campaign.

If this simple approach to capital campaign fundraising appeals to you, take a look at my book, How to Raise $1 Million (or more) in Ten Bite Sized Steps. (I know, I pared it down to 7 steps for Margaret. What do you think happened to the other three?)

andrea-kihlstedt.jpgThe preceding is a guest post by Andrea Kihlstedt, who loves to help people solve their fundraising problems. She has provided advice and friendly encouragement to lots of people over her 30+ years in the fundraising business. She’s also written four books on fundraising. Andrea lives in New York City with her husband. You can find her at Capital Campaign Masters.

Topics: Fundraising capital campaigns
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