Much has been written about capital campaigns, with the one of the most prolific authors being Andrea Kihlstedt, who is one of the founders of Capital Campaign Masters. Andrea’s book has been called a campaign Bible by some and I can say that the 3rd edition (there is now a 4th) provided me with welcome insight as I launched the first-ever campaign for Foxdale Village.
The Foxdale Healing Waters Therapy Pool Campaign (see campaign video here) was many years in the making, starting off with a feasibility study. While the study recommended moving forward the campaign was set on a side burner as transitions took place and the community focused on expansion. When the campaign launched Foxdale was blessed with a perfect storm of circumstances which helped ensure the campaign’s success:
1. Campaign leadership and volunteers were already with or joined Foxdale.
2. Those leaders brought campaign experience, willingness to make contributions, the capacity to recruit and train volunteers, and were willing to invite prospective donors to contribute.
3. Advances were made in therapy pool design which further enhanced the attractiveness of the project.
Since leaving Foxdale to become a consultant and teach in Penn State’s online Fundraising Certificate Program, I have had an opportunity to help a small nonprofit launch and complete its first-ever capital campaign: GreenBuild. It was thrilling to drive by the construction site last week and see the lot being cleared. On that spot will soon sit a net-zero ready duplex that will serve as a model for making housing affordable not just over the short term, but over the long term.
This organization also benefited from a perfect storm which helped assure the campaign’s success:
1. A former board member was ready and willing to take the lead with campaign planning and implementation.
2. University faculty members were open to the possibility of and agreed to work on the project, a project that would provide students with invaluable experience designing net-zero ready homes.
3. Newer board members who had experience with campaigns and who were not afraid to ask for gifts came on board.
Most important of all, the project resonated with the community members (affordability and sustainability are high priorities for many).
Do you have to hope for the perfect storm to hit before launching a campaign? No. As many a campaign consultant and leader have been known to say “hope is not a strategy.” As I share in a workshop about laying groundwork for campaigns there are many steps that a nonprofit can take to seed the clouds, man the ship, and prepare for the thrilling ride of launching and bringing a campaign home.
Would you like to learn more? Please contact me to arrange a time to chat; I look forward to hearing from you.