Is Your Nonprofit Truly Campaign-Ready?

Melissa Irish

Bay Area real estate and construction costs continue to rise. That means more competition for funds and significantly larger and more complex nonprofit campaign targets and budgets.

Increasingly, we’re seeing blended campaign goals for small to mid-range nonprofits with budgets up to $10M.

These combined goals typically include capital for purchasing and renovating real estate, operating funds to fuel innovation and program development and gifts to build endowments.

Often, this blending trend is the wisest course. It allows organizations to address immediate capital needs as well as prepare for a sustainable future.

However, these bigger goals require a more sophisticated financing plan than traditional philanthropy. Nonprofit leaders can find themselves delving into unfamiliar territory:

  • tax-exempt bond financing
  • creative, low-cost debt structures
  • earned income strategies
  • support of ballot measures

Leaders need new skill sets and the organization requires increased infrastructure and higher visibility. And all this takes…time.

The Pre-Campaign Checklist

A modern feasibility study is still a valuable tool for testing the donor appetite for supporting a project.

That said, at the end of many of our blended campaign studies, PRG recognized a pattern. Clients actually need to begin building a solid foundation 12 to 18 months before a campaign launch. Run through our readiness checklist and see where you stand:

  1. Gain consensus on priorities among board and staff on clients’ needs and how to serve them programmatically and financially.
  2. Establish a firm, validated campaign goal with realistic costs prepared by experienced professionals.
  3. Create a sound financing plan that considers risks and rewards and outlines multiple revenue streams.
  4. Construct a compelling case for support and test it with enough leading donor prospects to prove it will inspire giving to the level of your financial goals.
  5. Build a qualified board that understands the process of a capital or endowment campaign and has recruited board leaders that instill programmatic and financial credibility for this major undertaking.
  6. Expand staffing to support and drive the campaign to completion.
  7. Adopt a donor data management system that makes your job easier.
  8. Craft an active, effective major gifts program led by staff and volunteers that includes regular face-to-face contact with your top-level donors, the ones who can make or break a campaign.
  9. Encourage irrational exuberance, after all, we\’re all optimists or we wouldn\’t be in this field!

We’ve proven that extra planning positions your organization for greater success. As always, PRG walks side-by-side with you in this et-ready phase and puts your organization and leaders in the path of money.

Whether you’re just beginning to consider a campaign or further along, we can help. Reach out and we’ll get right back to you.

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