Are you thinking about launching a capital campaign to fund a new project? Depending on your project, your timeline, and your fundraising goals, a capital campaign might be a great fit! And while your campaign will be all about raising money, the way you marketing your campaign has a lot to do with your success!
We’ve included our top tips — plus advice from the experts — on planning and promoting your organization’s capital campaign.
What is a capital campaign?
A capital campaign is a fundraising initiative with a concrete goal and a defined timeline. Usually, organizations use capital campaigns to raise funds for larger projects — like new construction, building renovation, or other types of big equipment purchases.
Unlike other types of donations, capital campaigns are always linked to a dedicated project. Depending on the size of the project and the fundraising goal, campaigns might take place over several years with many phases. But donors will always know exactly what their donation is supporting.
These campaigns also differ from typical fundraisers in terms of scale. If your organization is looking to fund a large-scale expansion, a capital campaign is a great way to make that happen.
Marketing your capital campaign
Have you thought about how you’re going to market your capital campaign? The way you market your campaign will be different than other fundraisers because of the two distinct phases that make up a capital campaign.
- During the quiet phase, you’ll reach 50% to 70% of your goal by asking your major donors for contributions.
- The public phase will occur when you’ve finally announced your campaign to the world. You can start collecting smaller donations from your broader pool of donors.
Since you won’t announce your capital campaign until the public phase, there is less of a need to have a marketing plan for your quiet phase.
However, once you move to the public phase, you need to start reaching out to a wider audience to achieve your goal.
Therefore, for this article, we’ll focus on how to market your capital campaign after the quiet phase. Plus, we’ll provide you with recommended capital campaign consultants that can assist you.
Let’s get into the tips we’ll cover:
- Design a capital campaign website.
- Create a brand and slogan.
- Kick off the public phase with an event.
- Use segmentation to reach out to donors.
- Make your marketing materials.
- Promote your campaign on social media.
- Reach out to donors using traditional methods.
- Conduct a feasibility study to generate interest.
Looking for a consultant? Jump to our two recommendations.
Tip #1: Design a capital campaign website.
To differentiate your capital campaign from the rest of your fundraising efforts, you should create a website (or at least a page) that is dedicated just to your capital campaign.
This website can include information on the capital campaign as well as details about the project the funds are being raised for.
Your capital campaign website should also include:
- A place for supporters to donate
- Updates on the campaign’s progress
- Consistent branding and a slogan (more on this later!)
- A section with donor FAQs
It’s important to have a well-designed website because it will be a place where you can direct donors to learn more about your campaign.
What’s the key point? Having a site dedicated just to your capital campaign means that you can direct donors to the information they want without having to navigate through your main website.
Bonus: Looking for an easy way to create your capital campaign website? Check out these nonprofit website builders.
Tip #2: Create a brand and slogan.
Reaching your campaign’s goal could take months (if not years!). Therefore, you want your campaign to be memorable so that donors will share it with their friends and family. And who knows? Your supporters may give more than once during your campaign.
To help create an impression that lasts, you should create a brand and slogan for your capital campaign. Even if you already have a well-established brand for your nonprofit, the campaign’s brand should be different to separate your campaign from the rest of your fundraising.
Your brand should fit the theme of your project and should complement your nonprofit’s overall brand.
You’ll also need a catchy slogan to capture your donors’ attention and encourage them to contribute.
Pro Tip: Figure out what your overall message is for the campaign before you create your slogan.
For your slogan, you should go for something that:
- Is short and catchy: Create a slogan that’s quick and easy to read. Your phrase should stick in your donors’ minds.
- Describes your project: Make it clear what your capital campaign is looking to achieve. That way, donors can gain information as soon as they see your slogan.
Think about your brand and slogan as the main point that you want donors to take away.
What is the key point? While you may already have an established brand for your nonprofit, you should still create a separate brand for your capital campaign so that you can convey the project’s message.
Tip #3: Kick off the public phase with an event.
In between the quiet and public phase, there is a stage known as the kickoff. This marks a critical part of your campaign because you’ll announce your project to the world. After quietly soliciting gifts from your major donors, it’s time to let everyone know about your campaign.
Typically, this phase starts with an event that:
- Celebrates your campaign
- Thanks the supporters who have contributed so far
- Spreads the word about your campaign
- Gains media attention
- Inspires your supporters
Your event will give you a chance to interact with donors and get them excited about your capital campaign. It’s also an opportunity to encourage donors to give.
Depending on the type of project you’re raising funds for, you might have a formal event to recognize your donors. However, you can also host:
- Charity auction – You can host an auction as a part of a larger event or have it as a distinct fundraiser. Procure items from local business to auction off and raise additional funds for your capital campaign.
- Raffle – This fundraising event is a simple (and inexpensive) way to raise funds for a capital campaign. Have your volunteers start selling raffle tickets and then host an event where you will announce the winner.
- Walkathon – If your raising funds for a capital campaign that’s health related, then a walkathon is a great option. You can raise money from your supporter’s pledges, peer-to-peer fundraising, or by selling t-shirts and other nonprofit gear.
- Fundraising Gala – This type of event is a great way to kick off your capital campaign and thank your major donors. They usually consist of an award ceremony and dinner.
Invite your major donors who have already made a contribution and other supporters who will just be learning about your campaign. Having a mix of supporters will hopefully lead to more donations.
What is the key point? Host an event to spread the word about your campaign and announce your project to the world.
Tip #4: Use segmentation to reach out to your donors.
Now that your capital campaign is open to a larger group of donors, you’ll need a strategy for how you plan to reach out to potential contributors. Not all of your supporters will have the same level of knowledge when it comes to your capital campaign. Therefore, they shouldn’t all receive the same information.
The plan you used for your quiet phase (meeting with every major donor individually) won’t be feasible for your public phase. However, you can still convey a personal touch in your communications and send relevant information to different donors.
The answer is segmentation.
You can organize your nonprofit CRM to segment donors into different groups based on:
- Type of donor
- Preferred communication method
- Average gift size
- And so much more!
That way, you’ll have a simple, more personalized way to communicate with your donors. The more you can group donors, the better you’ll be able to interact with them.
Imagine that you want to segment your donors by those who have already given to your campaign and those who haven’t. That way, you can communicate different messages.
For the donors who have already given, you can send them ways to make their donation go further (like information on matching gifts). And for those that haven’t made a gift, you can send them information about your project and include your case for support.
Segmentation lets you personalize your communications without the hassle of spending too much time. With segmentation, you can create groups of emails that you send out to specific kinds of donors.
Not only will segmentation make it easier for you to share information that is useful to your donors, but it will also help you personalize your content. The more personal a message is, the more likely it will grab your donors’ attention and get them reading.
What is the key point? Organize your donors into groups so that you can give them the right message at the right time in their relationship with your nonprofit.
Tip #5: Make your marketing materials.
It would be hard to market your fundraiser without the right information and materials to give to donors. Marketing materials will help spread the word about your capital campaign. Your information can either be physical documents you send or hand out, or it can be content you post on your website and social media accounts.
We’ll go over a few marketing materials that you can use during your capital campaign.
A. Pledge cards.
A pledge card is a donation form that you can give to donors in-person or send via direct mail. The great thing about pledge cards is that donors can pledge a large amount that they can pay off little by little over the course of a few months (like monthly payments!).
Your cards should match your capital campaign’s brand and have the slogan somewhere on the card. The card will be a place where donors can input their information including their name, address, and payment information.
B. Case for support.
If you started planning your capital campaign, then you probably know what a case for support is used for. The case for support explains your capital campaign and how you will use the funds.
The case for support should be a document that answers the common questions donors will have about your project. You can send your case for support out with your appeal letters or make it a resource donors can access on your website.
Your nonprofit can use brochures to provide donors with bite-sized information on your capital campaign. In fact, most of the information can come from your case for support.
Like your other marketing materials, your brochures should match your campaign’s brand. It should have information about your donor giving levels, your incentives, and the different ways to give.
What’s the key point? With marketing materials, you can give donors information on your capital campaign in an engaging way.
Tip #6: Promote your capital campaign on social media.
Engaging with your supporters on social media is a great way to spread the word about your campaign. Since social media is a popular way to interact with donors, you can use your accounts to promote your capital campaign and encourage supporters to give.
You can use social media to:
- Share updates on your campaign’s progress
- Thank donors for contributing
- Post ways supporters can give to your campaign
When you make content for social media, make sure that you use graphics or photos to make your posts more shareable. The more a post gets shared, the more people will know about your campaign.
Additionally, you can post information on where donors can donate or learn more info.
It’s also a good idea to keep track of the conversation surrounding your nonprofit. You can do this by creating a hashtag. Use your hashtag on all the posts or tweets you create for your campaign and encourage donors to use it, too.
Plus, this will make it easier for you to thank donors when they make a contribution. If donors share their donations on social media with the hashtag, you’ll know about it.
What’s the key point? Social media is a great way to share information about your capital campaign and encourage donors to contribute. Just make sure that you create content that grabs your supporters’ attention!
Tip #7: Reach out to donors using traditional methods.
Along with the other marketing tips we mentioned, you shouldn’t forget about the traditional methods of reaching out to donors. We’re talking about sending letters and calling to ask donors to support your campaign.
These methods of communication are still great ways to reach out to your supporters. Not only do some donors prefer these methods, but you also have a chance to personalize your communications and explain why you need the money.
Unlike in social media where your message needs to be short and concise, you don’t have the same limitations with traditional methods.
Make use of your volunteers and your campaign’s many committees to get on the phone with potential donors.
If your volunteers are hesitant about asking for donations, you can always hire a capital campaign consultant to help train your leadership on how to be the best advocates for your cause.
When you reach out to donors using these traditional methods, your volunteers have the chance to really convey their passion for your cause to potential donors. This message can include information about the campaign and why they’re supporting your cause.
What’s the key point? Don’t forget to ask donors for gifts using traditional methods like direct mail and phone calls. Your volunteers can reach out to donors and personally explain your cause.
Tip #8: Conduct a feasibility study to generate interest.
You’re probably familiar with feasibility studies if you’ve started planning for your capital campaign. The feasibility study is used to help determine your fundraising goal and can be used to develop a strategy for your campaign.
Nonprofits will conduct interviews with supporters, current and previous board members, influential business owners, and volunteer leaders to see if they’d be interested in supporting the campaign.
Typically, nonprofits hire a third-party representative like a consultant to perform the interviews so that supporters feel comfortable giving their honest opinions.
So, how can a feasibility study promote your campaign?
Think about it this way: when you invite donors to voice their opinions about your upcoming capital campaign, you’re showing them that you value their feedback. Plus, they’ll be getting the inside scoop on your new fundraiser before everyone else, which means you can rile up excitement for the quiet phase.
Not only are your interviews the prime opportunity to excite your donors, but it will also help you improve your marketing for when you really launch your campaign. Based on all the feedback you get from your interviewees, you’ll know if any questions were left unanswered and the common concerns donors have about your project.
With this information, you can make the necessary adjustments so that the actual launch of your campaign goes off without a hitch.
What’s the key point? Since you’re going to be conducting a feasibility study anyway, use the opportunity to generate excitement among your major donors and implement their feedback into your marketing plan.
Bonus: Suggested Capital Campaign Experts.
If you’re still feeling uneasy about marketing your capital campaign, you should consider hiring a capital campaign consultant. Consultants can provide you with counsel to help plan and market your capital campaign.
No matter what type of organization or what size nonprofit you are, there is a consultant that can help you.
For example, consultants offer many services, including:
- Strategic planning. If you’re not sure which direction to take, a consultant can help you map your capital campaign and come up with a plan for how to reach your goals.
- Board training. To have a successful campaign, you need a strong team to advise and steer you in the right direction. Consultants often conduct training workshops to help improve the skills of board members.
- Feasibility studies. One of the first steps in planning for a capital campaign is performing a feasibility study. Hiring a consultant with no ties to your nonprofit ensures that you get the most accurate results.
- Case statements. Writing a case statement is a huge part of your campaign; it’s the document that will help persuade potential donors to give. A consultant can make sure that your statement includes all the necessary information.
Consultants can be a valuable asset when planning your capital campaign, but it’s important to look for a consultant that will meet your nonprofit’s needs and has the right experience.
Let’s look at our top two choices for medium and large nonprofits.
A. For Medium Nonprofits – Aly Sterling Philanthropy
Aly Sterling Philanthropy, a member of The Giving Institute, is a full-service consulting firm that offers nonprofits help with their fundraising efforts. They work with their clients to create a specific plan that’s catered to the nonprofit’s needs.
The consultants at Aly Sterling Philanthropy can help you plan your capital campaign and implement marketing and communication strategies for both the quiet and public phase.
B. For Large Nonprofits – CCS Fundraising
At CCS Fundraising, the consultants work with healthcare and humanity nonprofits, higher education institutions, and arts and cultural organizations. They have experience with managing campaigns, performing feasibility studies, and marketing.
If you’re part of a large nonprofit looking for a consultant, then CCS Fundraising has years of experience managing successful campaigns.
Now you’re set to start marketing during the public phase of your capital campaign! If you need more help finding a consultant for your needs, check out these top capital campaign consultants.
For more marketing tips, check out these additional resources:
- Nonprofit Web Design Firms. If you’re creating a separate website for your capital campaign, then you should consider hiring a website design firm. A firm can create a website that is optimized to get donors to act (aka make a donation).
- Feasibility Study Mistakes. Conducting a feasibility study is a crucial step in your capital campaign. Learn 6 common mistakes so that you’re prepared to do your feasibility study the right way.
- Fundraising Strategies. Check out this article for more information on how to raise money during both stages in your capital campaign.