QUESTIONS and ANSWERS
How are strategic planning, planning studies, and capital campaigns related?
The process of turning dreams into reality is very exciting. Ordinarily it begins with a visioning
and planning process. In the planning process the following questions may be asked: Where are
we going? What should our priorities be? What should be most important to us? What opportunities are
before us? What needs are before us? As a result of the planning process, priorities and needs emerge.
Your strategic plan is your road map for addressing your needs and achieving your dreams.
After the planning process, an organization may decide that it needs to run a planned, organized,
and thorough fundraising program called a capital campaign. Capital campaigns are run for
extraordinary projects that cannot be funded through the yearly budget.
After a planning process (long or short) and before a capital campaign, a planning study may be
employed to test your dream, vision, and plans with your major donors, influencers,
membership, and stakeholders. A planning study will help determine what can realistically be
What kind of projects can capital campaigns be used to fund?
All kinds of visions and projects may be funded through a capital campaign. Some examples would be:
* New buildings
* Building expansions, campus renovations, updates, and improvements
* Land acquisition
* Funding of chairs, positions, outreach, and service programs
* Energy conservation programs
* New technology
* New programs
* Scholarships and financial assistance programs
* Debt reduction
* A variety of funds
* And more
Does a planning study need to precede a campaign?
Generally, a planning study is a good idea. A planning study tests the organization’s vision
or plans, helps to fine-tune the plans, discovers areas of support and areas of resistance, suggests
the best ways to design a campaign and move forward, surfaces leaders and major donors,
and determines the financial goal.
Sometimes a planning study may not be necessary because the plans have been in the public
forum for so long and the needs are obvious. Even in these instances, a planning study can
be a good idea because it provides assurance that the organization’s plans are widely accepted
by its members and friends.
Generally speaking, a planning study is an important step, especially if:
* The organization and plans are of a larger scale
* The future vision and plans are not well known
* The community has not been very involved in the planning process
* The case for the need is not at first apparent
What are some important elements of a successful campaign?
There are several elements to a successful campaign:
* Sufficient sharing of vision with the organization’s leadership and membership, along with
sufficient time and mechanisms for feedback
* A compelling vision or case
* Support for the organization’s leaders by staff and membership
* History of harmonious relationships between leaders, staff and membership
* Unity of purpose between leaders, staff, donors, and membership
* Respected, gifted and motivated campaign leaders
How much capital can be raised through a capital campaign?
A planning study will determine how much can be raised this. Generally, a successful campaign
needs sufficient "large gifts (major gifts) and lots of gifts (participation)" by the membership. Generally,
the top gift of the campaign needs to be approximately 10-20% of the goal. If the above elements are
attained, it is very common for an organization to raise three times its annual income. In exceptional
campaigns it is possible to raise four, five, and six times the annual income. In excellent campaigns
you can raise ten times the annual income, or more!
What qualities are necessary for successful campaign chairs?
Campaign chairs are differentiated from campaign team leaders. Generally, campaign chairs should:
* Support the vision without reservation
* Be in harmonious relationship with the organization’s leaders
* Be respected in the organization and community
* Be people who can motivate team leaders
* Be able to complete tasks on time
* Be able to make the largest gifts to the campaign, or at least a larger dimension gift
How long does it take to start a campaign?
This really depends on several things: 1) The kind of organization, 2) The awareness of plans
by the membership, 3) The location of the organization in the overall process, 4) The scale of
the project, and 5) The location of the membership or publics. For smaller organizations it
can take two to three months to prepare; for larger organizations it can take six to nine months.
How long does it take to run a campaign?
This depends on the organization's size and the factors listed above. A campaign is living, growing
thing. It takes time to finalize the vision, test the vision, recruit the campaign leadership,
allow campaign leadership to complete their work, inform and inspire your membership/publics,
seek responses/commitments and follow-up. A campaign should be well-paced and gaining
momentum as it goes along. A capital campaign can run from five to six months for smaller
organizations and to a year or more for larger organizations.
What can VisionWorks do for you?
* Dedicated and experienced professionals
* Elegantly inspiring, well-planned, humane, rewarding, and results-oriented campaign experiences
* Current best practices
* Compelling campaign visions
* Identification and development of strong campaign leaders
* Comprehensive campaign leadership training
* Expert identification of major donors
* Professional marketing materials
* Inspiring and comprehensive campaign talking points
* Maximum pledge responses
* Comprehensive campaign follow-up plan (which no other companies do)
What does a capital campaign cost?
A capital campaign’s cost must always be measured against the value that VisionWorks
brings to the effort and the amount that our professionals plan to raise. The actual cost depends
on the size of the project, the nature of the case, the intensity of the work required, the location
of the membership and the on-site time requirements of the consultants. We provide value
and services that fit the budgets of every organizations. An ethical capital campaign company
will determine a fee that is fixed rather than one that is based on the percentage of money raised.