How to Jumpstart Your Capital Campaign and Achieve Early Success

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What’s the fastest way to jumpstart your capital campaign and achieve early success? You can do it, but it takes specific, smart steps to make it happen.

First of all, why do you want to get your campaign off the ground quickly?

Because capital campaigns are a heavy lift for organizational leaders, fundraising staff, and board members. They can be laborious since they add so much extra work… 

Campaigns are also risky, too, because you’re announcing to your community and stakeholders a large, aggressive goal. Your organization is making big, bold plans, and publicizing them. By all means, you certainly do not want to fail

Even more, you do not want a long, dragged-out campaign.

That will wear out everyone involved and leave a bad memory. The longer a campaign goes on, sometimes the harder it is to reach the goal because often campaign leaders, board members, and staffers feel exhausted and lose their momentum.

So, let’s jumpstart your next capital campaign and get it off the ground quickly! 

There are three key steps you can take as early as possible that will help you engage the right leadership donors, build confidence that you can reach the goal, and create that magic ingredient of momentum. 

Then you can take off and sail quickly to reach your campaign goal.

1. Create an Audacious Case and Messaging to Jumpstart your Capital Campaign 

How about a grand sweeping statement about the need for your project? Or, can you share a grand vision that proclaims an exciting new state of service to your constituency?

Everyone seems to overthink their case for support. We see far too much weak, wordy writing, that carries no emotional punch. Don’t use the same old, same old, nonprofit-speak full of specialized jargon.

We see so many drafts of cases for support that talk on and on about the organization’s history, its awards and track record, but very little about the actual need for the project. You are filling urgent community needs – talk about them!

This is the time for you and your team to be bold and audacious.

It’s your chance to frame your hopes and dreams in exciting, powerful language.

For example, “We’re trying to make something BIG happen.” You can say, “Right now, all we can do is XXXX. But in this campaign, we will be able to make YYY impact.”

You are showing the difference between what your organization can do now, and what you can do when the campaign infuses new resources into your organization. You have a happy vision of expanding your mission and services.

Just think of the ways you are changing the world through this expansion!

Urgency is an essential ingredient. You can add urgency to your case by talking about the need. You’re fulfilling an urgent mission and helping a situation that needs immediate attention. This is where your case gets an emotional and urgent push. 

2. Run the Numbers on the Campaign Prospect Pool

Data is your friend if you want to jumpstart your capital campaign quickly. You must run the numbers and do a thoughtful analysis of where the money will come from, when it will come and who would be giving these gifts. 

The capital campaign gift table is a wonderful tool for projecting what types and amounts of gifts you will need in order to make the campaign successful.

Also, when you run the numbers, you’ll want to examine your donor relationships.

How close are you to your hoped-for lead donors? 

Try this approach: take a list of prospects for your all-important lead campaign gifts. Then evaluate the status of your relationship with these particular donors.

Use the criteria of hot, warm and cold to evaluate the strength of your donor relationship. This analysis helps you identify your next body of work – creating warmer relationships between your organization and the hoped-for donor.

By the way, board members really enjoy and understand this hot, warm, and cold analysis. It serves an important purpose by helping them understand how close relationships can lead to important lead gifts. 

Above all, we strongly believe in wealth screenings.

Our company holds a subaccount with DonorSearch, and we can read their reports with an eagle eye to find hidden wealthy prospects for each campaign we run. 

Wealth reports can be your best friend, if, and only if you know how to sort through all the data overwhelm and find the hidden gold – those wonderfully loyal and passionate donors who have high wealth capacity.

Those are your sleeper campaign donors who just might make a gift on the first visit.

3. Build Confidence with the Board and Leadership 

If you want to jumpstart your campaign, it’s important to focus specifically on your board. They are opinion leaders who can spread the positive word, or they can mumble about how nervous they are about the potential campaign. 

We think the more board members are educated about the campaign, its strategy and timetable, the better.

Our approach to board members during a capital campaign is what we call, “early and often.” 

We are in front of them frequently with cheerful updates backed up by hard data. This increases their comfort and helps them support the strategy.

Why? It’s because they understand that the campaign is well organized, and proceeding as planned. (This is one of the most important roles for a capital campaign consultant!)

You also want to be sure to carry the new campaign messages to the board. There you are, with an exciting, audacious vision and case. It’s so important to educate the board members on this message because it will excite them and help create confidence and momentum. 

You would be surprised what the right message can do to turn a blah board into a high-charging board.

Another one of our favorite ways to build confidence with the board is to approach board members as individuals, and seek their advice, and ultimately their campaign gift.

We find that private meetings with board members can yield so much positive information and results. 

When you meet with board members privately, then you can bring them into the campaign strategy, have them feel like insiders, and also obtain critical advice on how to put together the leadership campaign gifts.

Bottom line: jump-start your capital campaign by creating audacious messaging, running your numbers carefully, and building your board’s confidence. 

As always, it is a pleasure to share our weekly insights with you as we cover important fundraising strategies.  If your organization is planning a capital campaign or expanding your major gifts program – we can help. Send an email to if you’d like to schedule a free strategy call with us.