“Should we start a capital campaign now?” That’s always the big question.

The answer to this question is another question: “What’s the purpose of the capital campaign?” Or, put another way, “What do you need the funding for?” If the answer is compelling and urgent, then it’s time to start a campaign right now – regardless of the economy.

At the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020, we were asked many questions – especially, “Is now a good time to start a campaign?”

Now, more than two years later, the answer is clear. Those who had a compelling and urgent case for raising funds and started or continued their campaigns are finished. Those who hesitated haven’t even started yet and now are asking the same questions!

The James Company completed several campaigns during the height of the pandemic and met or exceeded financial goals! How did that happen? The answer is: There is never a good time to do a campaign! And yet, it’s always a good time because there are always uncertainties. There is no perfect time. There is only the right time for your church or nonprofit.

 If you have a big vision and a plan, the time is right for you, now.

 Regardless of what’s happening in the world, here are 3 ways you can handle the risks that come with a capital campaign:

  • Plan, plan, plan. Every campaign has its risks. Always begin with a pre-campaign planning phase (often referred to as a Feasibility Study). Your prospective donors need to be introduced to a compelling case before they are ever approached for a gift. You want to know what they think about your plan and if they would be inclined to support it.

There’s a wise saying in fundraising that goes like this: If you want advice, ask for money…if you want money, ask for advice! 

  • Initiate ongoing conversations with your donors. Let’s say you have begun to seek gifts from prospective major donors in the early (quiet) phase of your campaign and the market takes a real downturn. Talk with donors you have approached for a gift and those who have already pledged support.

Ask them how they are feeling about the economy and if could impact their gift. Ask for their advice. Ask them what they can commit to now and let them know you’d like to come back and revisit the topic when things improve. If necessary, shift the timing of the fulfillment of gifts.

  • Revise your campaign plan. If it becomes clear that you will not be able to raise the funds you hoped to, you will need to scale back the campaign objectives in your case-for-support. You should always have a plan “B” in your initial planning process.

You can also adjust your timeline. Not indefinitely, but if a few months will give you an opportunity to approach more donors or propose an extended pledge fulfillment period, it’s not a problem to extend the timeline.

While you can never totally risk-proof your campaign, there is flexibility to deal with unexpected situations. Remember: Your campaign isn’t driven by the clock, it is driven by a compass. 

John V Clark, President/Partner
The James Company
815.353.8997 (cell)
Visit us: www.jamescompany.com