Are You Ready for a Capital Campaign?

By Dave Jones

A capital campaign can be a remarkably cost-effective means of funding a new facility. Campaign expenses are usually a tiny fraction of the funds raised and at the end of the day, the organization gets a new facility debt free.

But capital campaigns require large commitments of time and resources. So if your organization is contemplating a campaign, it’s a good idea to look carefully before you leap. A capital campaign feasibility study, conducted by an experienced consultant, can answer such questions as:

  • How much can we expect to raise?
  • Who are our best donor prospects?
  • If a campaign is feasible, how should we organize?
  • And finally, what’s it going to cost?

But before you commission a feasibility study, it’s important to determine your general state of campaign readiness. To help you determine if your organization is well positioned to move into a formal campaign planning process, Pathway Associates has developed the following Campaign Readiness Quiz. Answer yes or no to these questions then check your score to see how well you are positioned and what your next step may be.

Community Awareness

  1. Is your organization well known and well respected in the community it serves?
  2. Are community leaders generally aware of the important work you do in the community?
  3. Does your organization have a history of volunteer involvement?

Project Definition

  1. Can you clearly and succinctly demonstrate the need for the proposed capital project?
  2. Are plans sufficiently far along that you can convey a reasonably accurate sense of the project scope?
  3. Do you have credible cost estimates that reasonably project the construction cost for the proposed project?

Financial Projections

  1. Does your organization have a history of sound financial management?
  2. Are your fund raising and overhead expenses in line with national averages (less than 20% is considered desirable)?
  3. Do you have a plan for covering the increased operating expenses a new facility often requires?

Development History

  1. Does twenty percent or more of your annual operating revenue come from major gifts of $5,000 or more?
  2. Can you identify a pool of approximately 100 donor prospects who are capable of giving or influencing gifts of $50,000 to your campaign?

Board Participation in Fund Raising

  1. Would you characterize your Board as a “fund raising board?”
  2. Are at least some members of your Board actively involved in fund raising?
  3. Do you have a Development Subcommittee of the Board?
  4. Do a majority of your Board members make annual gifts to your organization?

Campaign Resources

  1. Does your organization have the capacity to hire or dedicate a full time person to serve as capital campaign manager?
  2. Do you have, or can you find, funds to cover the first six months of campaign expenses – typically $50,000 to $100,000?

To grade your quiz, give yourself 5 points for every “Yes” answer. Then total your score and check it against the guidelines below.

If you scored: Your rating is: Suggestions:
80 to 85 Excellent! Most of the elements are in place to begin formal campaign planning. Contact Pathway Associates to discuss how we can help you plan and launch your campaign.
65 to 75 Not bad. But you’ve got some work to do before beginning the campaign planning process. Contact Pathway Associates for free advice about what you need to do improve your state of readiness over the near term.
60 or lower Not yet. Unless there are unusual circumstances, you’re probably not in a good position to conduct a capital campaign. Contact Pathway Associates to discuss a longer term strategy to move into position for an eventual capital campaign.

For more information:

Email us at:
Or call Dave Jones at 801-990- 2922