What Sets A Capital Campaign Apart From Annual Fund Raising Efforts?

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    That was the first part of a question … that continued to ask:
    “I believe the answer to be a hard drive at research of prospective large gift donors, cultivating these prospects and obtaining a commitment or large gift. Where do general corporate and community direct mail efforts come in? Are there specific procedures for direct mail (donor-base expansion), or is there no specific correlation between the two. In other words, where do the Direct Mailing efforts come into play during a capital campaign?”

    First, comparing the activities of an annual fund program with a capital campaign is like comparing apples and watermelons — both are fruit, but….

    It has often been said that capital campaigns are a synthesis of everything else we do in development. It is also true that the skills and experience required to design/implement a capital campaign are so much greater than those needed for annual fund activities; and, that a comparison of the two isn’t realistic.

    To fully understand what a Capital Campaign is, it would be best not to approach the concept from the AF-CC comparison. That would be misleading. It would just be better to define/discuss capital campaigns.

    1. It is important, to be able to understand what CCs are all about, to understand the purpose and structure of the (CC, MG [Major Gifts]) “Pyramid” – see: “How To Use The Gift Table”. Since it would be insane to think of attaining a million dollar CC goal by obtaining 1,000 gifts for $1,000 — think of the number of solicitors you’d need, the leadership structure, the volunteer training, etc., etc., — the “pyramid” is a visual representation of the numbers and sizes of gifts you’d need to attain your goal.

    The ideal capital campaign would identify, cultivate and (successfully) solicit the one person who could/would make the one (large enough) gift to satisfy campaign needs. Failing that, look for two gifts that would fill the bill; or three; or four; etc. Eventually, for most campaigns, you wind up with the “pyramid.”

    The million-dollar CC should be able to attain its goal with relatively few gifts — fifty to one-hundred-fifty. The larger the goal, and some of today’s campaigns range into the billions, the greater the number of gifts would be needed to achieve it … but the “pyramid” will always apply.

    2. The case for a CC is substantially different than that for an AF. The former looks at bricks-and-mortar, equipment, real estate, architects, etc., and the latter covers program, salaries, supplies, etc. The case for the former tends to be of the preparing-for-the future type, the latter focuses on the present.

    3. CC (or MG) gifts may require months/years of cultivation; and, you need to know much more about your prospects than you would/do for the AF. If you’re planning on asking someone for a $1m gift, you’d better know enough about that prospect to show him/her how making that gift will satisfy his/her needs.

    4. A CC usually relies on the prospect identification, cultivation and solicitation activities of volunteers.

    5. Referencing #1 (above), the focus is on MGs for capital purposes, and rarely do such gifts come from corporate sources.

    6. Referencing #1 (above), the focus is on MGs for capital purposes, and solicitation by direct mail (or other mass approach methodology) cannot and should not be relied upon.

    If the smaller gifts are sought, it will only be for the public relations and/or constituent building value, not for their help in attaining the goal. Traditionally, the General Gifts Phase of a CC is implemented (if at all) only after the campaign goal has been (pretty much) attained; and, the purpose of that phase (although not public stated) is to allow the whole “community” the opportunity to be “part” of a successful campaign.

    A capital campaign is not an annual fund that has been “expanded.”

    To go back to the original question — and the way it was framed/worded, it gives the impression that what’s being asked is, “Why couldn’t an AF person run a CC ??” Answer: A CC requires a larger, more sophisticated set of skills, a different mind-set, a whole level of complexity, experience and training above what is needed for the AF.

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