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Common Definitions in Fundraising

Have you ever heard fundraising terms and not fully understood what they meant? Maybe you’re new to the world of campaigning and not familiar with the language. Or possibly you’re curious to see if a capital campaign is the correct avenue to reach your organization’s next goals? Let’s dive in and take a look at what some key words in fundraising are and why they’re important.

First, let’s grasp the difference between annual fundraising and a capital campaign. A Capital Campaign is a targeted fundraising effort taking place over a specified period of time in an effort to raise a significant amount of money typically for building a new structure or completing a facility renovation. Fundraising for a capital campaign is different from Annual Fundraising that you may continue to do for your organization year-round.

The money raised from a capital campaign goes directly toward a specified project. It’s also likely a larger amount of money than fundraised in the past so it’s important to do things differently! Fundraising for a capital campaign may require donors large and small, volunteers, and maybe expert consultants like us at Crescendo Fundraising Professionals!

Now that you understand what a capital campaign is and why it’s so important, let’s zoom in on some of the steps that we take along the way! One of the first tasks before beginning any fundraising work is to assess campaign readiness, sometimes referred to as a feasibility or assessment study. A Campaign Readiness Study refers to the internal and external assessment completed to determine the feasibility of a fundraising project. This is a crucial first step to evaluate the organization, economics, possible obstacles, along with other things, to prepare the way for the pre-campaign and campaign processes to follow.

Following the campaign readiness study, a client enters into a contract to proceed with the Capital Campaign. Expert consultants set the foundation for a successful campaign with an additional deep dive in the “pre-campaign” phase. During this phase, it’s incredibly important for a case statement to be carefully developed and vetted.

What exactly is a case statement and why is it so important to your organization? Simply put, a Case Statement is the vision or detailed rationale, including financial goals, regarding the project and why it’s important to the community — and why they should give! It’s important to keep your mission clear and focused both for you as the organization, for the community and your donors.

When building a case statement for your organization, there are several questions to think through. Here are a few to help you get started:

  • Who are we and who do we serve?

  • What are the clear financial needs and benefits?

  • What do we do and why is it important to the community?

  • What sets us apart from other organizations doing the same thing we do?

  • What are our previous successes? Our future goals?

  • How can we reach our future goals and how can donors or volunteers play a part in helping us reach those goals?

To take your case statement from good to great - try a few of these ideas:

  • Add photos or visuals to appeal to those who are visual learners. This could look like a blueprint of your new library, a chart of the projected numbers for the year ahead, or a photo of the impact you made on all the children you helped last year!

  • Tell a story. Talk about the difference you made in the lives of the many you served last year. Don’t be afraid to pull at the emotions!

  • Keep it updated! Make sure to continuously review your case statement every to ensure updated it if needed during the campaign. You may have new stories to tell, new visuals to add, or even new goals or visions for your organization.

You did it! You made it to the campaign phase and you can’t wait to tell everybody about it and ask for their help.

You’re ready for the public launch! *record scratching* Hold up… A Public Launch shouldn’t happen until 60-70% of the funds are already raised during what is known as the silent phase. During this phase, fewer donations will be given, but at larger amounts. If the campaign announced the goal when no money had been raised, it would be considerably more difficult for the public or community to have confidence that the goals are attainable. When a majority of the funds are raised, a public launch to the community will generate awareness, excitement, and when done successfully, will keep the fundraising momentum going!

While launching your campaign to the public, keep in mind that it’s important to be specific in regards to the amount of money needed for the remainder of your fundraising efforts. If a launch read something like “We’re building a new library! Click the link below to donate,” how many people would that reach? Being clear on the goal gives people motivation to donate and help the library reach their new building goal!

This goes without saying, but we'll say it anyway, of course there are many additional steps and a lot of time throughout the process but these are some of the most common terms to build on a solid understanding of fundraising.

Now that you have a better understanding of the terms and steps in a capital campaign and why each is important - you may be thinking this is the next step for your organization! If so, please fill out our contact form or email to get the discussion rolling.

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