The ArtsCenter: A Capital Campaign Success Story

capital campaign success story case study

Around eight or so years ago the ArtsCenter in Carrboro, North Carolina, looked for the stars to align for a big new project.

A well-loved community organization for decades, the organization needed a new home.

For more than 45 years, the ArtsCenter had delighted audiences, sponsored creativity through arts education, supported camps and after school programs plus more.

All in a repurposed grocery store.

Needing a new facility.

For a decade or so, ArtsCenter leadership talked about finding a new home for the organization.  But challenges outweighed opportunities.  Potential projects fell through.

Budget issues plagued the organization.  Fundraising just couldn’t get past ground floor.

These things can happen to many wonderful nonprofit organizations. Sometimes the stars just do not align.  Vision goes unfulfilled.  Confidence lags.  It happens to us as individuals and it happens to organizations too.

Capital campaign success story:

Fast forward to today and it is a whole new story!

Today the ArtsCenter has purchased property for its new home. The building planning is in full force. And, the ArtsCenter is just over $3.2 million to a $5.5 million campaign goal.

What happened?  How did the stars align for the ArtsCenter?

Five Capital Campaign Success Factors

We tell our clients that there are five key factors that need to work for their organizations to launch a successful capital campaign.

Here’s where we focus as capital campaign consultants – to help our clients align these critical elements.

The ArtsCenter leadership and staff have worked hard to make it happen. Here are the five factors and what the ArtsCenter has achieved to create campaign success.

1. A Clear, Compelling Vision and Plan:

The ArtsCenter’s director, Dan Mayer, and his board, laid out a compelling and exciting vision for the much loved ArtsCenter.

The plan for both the building project and the campaign were clear and actionable.

2. An Engaged and Supportive Board of Directors:

The ArtsCenter’s board is involved and committed to the project and the campaign.

They have given their unanimous support to the new vision. Not only that, 100% of the board members are making personal campaign gifts.

3. Major Donors:

The ArtsCenter worked hard to build a group of prospective donors willing and ready to consider major gifts.

While this was an area of challenge for the ArtsCenter at first, they have put hard work into rebuilding past relationships and forging new ones to support the project.

Recently the Arts Center closed their first seven-figure gift in support of the project – a huge milestone that indicates the community’s confidence. This major gift served to raise the sights of other donors and encourage even more donors to participate.

4. Campaign Leadership:

The early leadership for the campaign has been a small group of committed individuals who have lent their advice and counsel to campaign planning and to developing the donor prospect pool.

They have been our feet on the ground: opening doors, hosting engagement events, and making contacts with potential donors.

5. Campaign Management Structure:

The ArtsCenter has a small development staff focused on annual giving.

To build capacity to see the campaign through, Dan Mayer and his staff have worked closely with our firm, to build step by step the knowledge, resources, and processes to manage the campaign going forward.

Recently, Dan Mayer said,

“What our work with our consultant provided was the path forward to make this campaign work. It has been a close partnership with Gail and Kathryn.”

From our perspective what we have seen from the ArtsCenter is a willingness to do the hard work and approach their campaign with a sense of urgency and discipline. That’s what it really takes!

Kathryn Gamble, our lead consultant on this project, has been to many meetings with prospective donors with Executive Director Dan Mayer and with the board chair.

Both of these two busy leaders are willing to invest the time to properly prepare for these important meetings. Not only that, they are willing to do the all-important follow up to each donor visit.

There is still money to raise to reach the goal but the ArtsCenter is clearly on the right path to success.  We are very proud of our client.

Their stars are aligned!

Bottom Line: What it really takes for capital campaign success

Many factors need to line up in order to be really successful. And it’s possible to make it happen!