I’m going to be a bit controversial here among the fundraising and development community with this blog. Recently, I had an interaction with a friend of ours when they asked if K2 does capital campaigns. My response was, “you mean fundraising?” in which case yes, we fundraise. Our firm has raised over forty million dollars in the last ten years and annually raises anywhere from five to seven million depending on our client load. My friend went on to say, I know you fundraise, but do you actually raise for a capital campaign? This response stumped me – I’ve always lumped good ole’ fashioned fundraising in the same bucket as a capital campaign. The primary components of a capital campaign are:
- Project specific funding need
- Multi-year contribution requests
- Motivating donors around a shared goal and mission
- Refocused weekly and monthly fundraising metric check ins to ensure the campaign is progressing as it should be
- Expanded development support with the board, major donors and additional fundraisers.
I got my start in fundraising for campaigns. Granted it was politics, but the reality is everything I outlined above is at the center of political campaign fundraising. I took that playbook and have been continually refining it since 2013 for our clients and the components have not changed.
If you are a good fundraiser, you hone in on the project, what are you selling, what is the impact, and why a donor should give. Additionally, when prospecting and connecting with donors, the ask is always multi-year or multi-gift if they are already committed to your cause. Good fundraisers, market well and understand the importance of the overall brand. When Kirsten and I started K2, we knew good marketing was a requirement for me to sell, and my selling (i.e. raising money) was needed to further expand the communications and marketing to reach more people. You need money to run ads! Which one comes first? That’s a blog for another time. Good fundraising has regular metrics and reporting, not just if you’re raising for a “capital campaign.” Lastly, you need a team of people fundraising. This is a fact that is often overlooked and undervalued. If you look at a nonprofit or organization you respect, if they are raising millions – they have a team, diversified channels where they get their money and multiple people helping achieve the goal. The burden cannot be shouldered by one person.
Perhaps the marketing gap for K2 here is that a capital campaign is a branded fundraising effort that nonprofits and non-fundraising professionals use to sell a product – but at the end of the day, your development team should run capital campaigns annually for whatever project you want to fund.
Maybe K2 has missed out on RFP’s and other fundraising opportunities because we didn’t use a catch phrase (blog for another time). That being said, we will be adding “Capital Campaigns” to our website and will start to use this catch phrase because we’re already doing it, and we do it well.