A first-timers’s guide to a capital campaign

You might be preparing to launch your organization’s first capital campaign, and your head is swimming. For those new to the process, Laura Fredricks, in her book “The Ask,” outlines the four phases of capital campaigns.

The first phase is about preparation. During this time, organizations should determine the organizational needs to be included in the campaign, set realistic campaign goals, identify campaign leaders who can make leadership gifts and identify and solicit lead gifts, and draft an initial list of campaign prospects.

The silent phase comes up next. During this time, the campaign is kept in-house with top prospects asked for their gifts before the campaign is announced. Leadership gifts from top prospects will be the biggest of the campaign. After top prospects, other major prospects are asked until the organization has reached 50 to 60 percent of its goal.

The public phase is when direct-mail campaigns, employee participation, and phone-a-thons kick in. Now that the campaign is public, the organization can announce internally and externally campaign goals, amount raised to date, and, with donor permission, the names of those who have already contributed.

Now, it’s time to close. All asks are followed up and solidified, prior gifts are stewarded, a report is conducted on all gifts and the amounts funded for each area of the campaign, and leadership, volunteers and staff are thanked.