GuideStar Blog

Reasons for Having—and NOT Having—a Capital Campaign

Lots of board members and even staff members have misguided notions of why organizations should have a capital campaign. Here is the main reason you should have a campaign, and three reasons why you should not.


The Iditarod of Capital Campaigns: Multi-Use Projects

I had the opportunity to meet with a woman who has completed the Iditarod several times. She’s amazing, and she told me her biggest challenge wasn’t the weather or the long hours or the isolation. It was keeping her team of dogs happy by ensuring that each was fed, rested, and doing what he or she loved, whether that was breaking trail, being calm or enthusiastic, or pulling. When each dog is given the opportunity to do what it loves in a team environment, the race goes more smoothly.

Multi-use campaigns are similar to the world-famous sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome. They cannot be completed, much less won, by anything less than a team that understands and values individual strengths.


Do Capital Campaigns Hurt or Strengthen Major Gifts?

Fundraisers disagree about the value of capital campaigns. Yesterdays post argues they do more harm than good in the long run. Today’s post offers a different point of view.

Some people worry that major gifts will suffer in the years after a capital campaign. But it’s simply not true!

Remember, very few things move in simple straight lines. That’s true of human motivation, growth patterns and yes, even the way people give.


How Campaigns Hurt Major Gifts

Fundraisers disagree about the value of capital campaigns. Today’s post argues they do more harm than good in the long run. Tomorrow’s post will offer a different point of view.

Someone is going to be upset when they read this.

Reason: they’ve invested their entire career in campaigns, and when someone like me comes along and says that most campaigns hurt major gifts and are long-term failures, it’s a sword thrust into their soul.

But I must say it. Here’s why ...


8 Essential Practices for Capital Campaign Committees That Fuel Success

Birds of a feather flock together ... but when it comes to your capital campaign, they’ll only flock well with successful leadership. Your committee chairs must be well-organized and maintain excellent communication.

It’s easy to lose sight of the simple, basic practices that make systems work well when the goals are very big. But it turns out that the bigger and more complex the goals, the more important rigorous attention to essential practices of organization and communication.


The Future of Capital Campaigns Fundraising: The Writing Is on the Wall

In the remarkable book The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts, authors Richard and David Susskind explore the changes affecting professionals—doctors, lawyers, accountants, management consultants, tax advisers, financial advisers, architects, journalists, and even clergy. Professionals, they say, “have knowledge, experience, skills and know-how that those they help do not.” And technology and the Internet are radically shifting the way people access expert information.


4 Ways to Engage Busy Campaign Volunteers

In this post, the third in our series (read part 1 and part 2) about the new trends in capital campaign fundraising, we explore new ways to engage volunteers.

Volunteers Fuel Your Capital Campaign

We often hear from beleaguered executive directors and development directors that they are too busy to spend huge amounts of time wrangling volunteers. They wonder if it’s worth all of the time and trouble.

The answer is YES. Involved volunteers in your campaign are worth their weight in gold.


Ask Your Capital Campaign Consultants to Think in New Ways

In this post, the second in our series about the new trends in capital campaign fundraising (part 1 appeared last week), we explore whether, why, and when you will need an experienced consultant to guide you through your capital campaign. 


7 Important Things You Need to Know about Today’s Capital Campaigns

Massive undertakings like capital campaigns require all the tools in the toolshed. And with today’s technology, the available tools have never been more effective.


Beware of “Truths” in Fundraising

Image by Drakeblack5 on Pixabay

Counterintuitive is usually defined as something contrary to what one would intuitively expect. For example, marketing pros discovered long ago that the fewer choices we’re presented with, the more likely we are to actually choose one, whether it’s a lot full of new cars or a shelf full of pasta sauces in the supermarket.

Fundraising is often counterintuitive as well. Here I’ll share four instances. In my book, The Busy Volunteer’s Guide to Fundraising, you’ll find a fuller discussion of many others.


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