In our last post, we started a list of myths that are often associated with capital campaigns. Let’s continue with some other classic myths that get passed around.

Truth or Myth – A wealthy Board is Needed for a Successful Capital Campaign

MYTH. It is oftentimes the thinking that a wealthy Nonprofit Board or Church Council is essential to the success of a capital campaign. While having a financially supportive board is certainly beneficial, this is typically not the makeup of the nonprofit or church board. It is a different story for universities and hospitals, for instance, where boards are intentionally designed to recruit board wealth.

What is important is to have an informed and engaged board. A board that has a true passion and connection to your mission instead of wealth should not be a barrier to conducting a successful capital campaign.

Truth or Myth – The Donor Pyramid is Bad for Giving

MYTH. The classic donor pyramid which categorizes the giving levels needed to raise the campaign goal, has been questioned in recent years. Some argue that it limits donor engagement and discourages smaller donors.

That said, data continues to prove differently. While diverse and inclusive fundraising approaches are essential, the donor pyramid still plays a valuable role in meeting the campaign goal. The top 20 gifts almost always account for an average of 70%, or more, of campaign goals. This, of course, highlights the importance of lead gifts.

Truth or Myth – Let’s just get the 100 donors in our database to each give $5,000 and we will raise $500,000 in no time! 

MYTH. There is always at least one person convinced that the best way to raise your campaign goal is in equal amounts. This is the person who doesn’t believe the donor pyramid is necessary.

Raising money in equal amounts from lots of donors turns out to be impossible. First of all, not every donor contributes to a capital campaign. Secondly, the equal amount needed from each donor may not be feasible even if someone wanted to support the campaign. And finally, the equal amount asked for might be much less than a donor’s capacity to give more. The even-amount approach is not an effective campaign strategy.

Be careful to not fall prey to one of the many myths about capital campaigns!

     John V. Clark, President/Partner
The James Company
(815) 353-8997