How Ruotolo Associates Can Help You Begin Your Next Capital Campaign

When we begin working with an organization on a capital campaign, we often cite the Kresge Foundation, one of the nation’s foremost and innovative funders of capital campaigns, and the 12 factors it has identified as essential for this scale of fundraising. Often, the volume of work that is required for a successful capital campaign can stretch a nonprofit’s resources and capabilities. Ruotolo Associates has worked with many organizations through the years on their campaigns, very often helping nonprofits exceed their goals.

The 12 steps that Kresge has identified are outlined below.

  1. The campaign flows from the organization’s strategic plan and brings it closer to achieving the mission and vision.
  2. The staff, board, and major supporters shape and own the campaign/plan.
  3. Key messages connect the value you currently deliver to the opportunities for growth and sustainability that your capital project will offer.
  4. Test the feasibility of your plan and goals.
  5. Target a spectrum of donors.
  6. Secure leadership gifts first and have a significant amount committed prior to “going public.”
  7. Mobilize a force of trained and enthusiastic volunteers who will make “stretch gifts” and connect the organization to others.
  8. Announce the campaign to the public and engage as many as possible in your plans, goals, and vision.
  9.  Raise funds–and friends–to the goal.
  10. Report progress and challenges, both to individuals (top donors and shareholders) and your wider public.
  11. Celebrate every victory and broadcast your success.
  12. Maintain relationships and learn lessons. Become a stronger institution.

(Special thanks to the Kresge Foundation for allowing us to use this information, copyright 2013.)

How RA Can Assist in the Early Stages of Your Campaign

In some cases, nonprofit leaders may think they are ready to commence with a study, but, in reality, they may need to first consider a Pre-Campaign Study Readiness Phase.

RA would work with your leadership and staff on the internal and external pieces that will build the foundation for a more effective and efficient pre-campaign study.  This would include the following:

1.  Assure that the campaign needs are rooted in institutional planning.  It is usually advisable to have the case for support somewhat multi-faceted, for example, a combination of capital construction or renovation projects, programs, endowment, etc.

2.  One of the challenges that some organizations face is not having their key stakeholders or constituents at a point where they are willing to be interviewed during a pre-campaign study.  Ultimately, this comes down to how well you know your key prospects,  donors, and volunteer leaders.  Therefore, a careful assessment of the likely study respondents through various communication initiatives needs to occur to determine their receptivity to participating in personal interviews and/or focus groups.  If there is concern on the part of these individuals, then information-sharing strategies should be utilized during this pre-study readiness phase.

3.  Ensure that board members understand their roles and responsibilities and that they are willing to adhere to best practices regarding the eventual study and campaign activities.

Oftentimes, this can be accomplished through a board retreat or a series of board information/education meetings.  RA would provide direction through this process as well.

4.  Assess the existing resources–human, technological, etc.–and determine how these can be utilized during the pre-campaign study and, more importantly, what would require enhancement for the capital campaign.

The Pre-Campaign Study Readiness Phase typically takes three to six months to complete.  RA is also available to assist your institution/organization beyond this initial readiness stage.