Here is a question we frequently get from our campaign clients – especially their board members.  “How do you create momentum for our campaign?”

Why is this a pain point?  It’s because no one wants their campaign to take a long, exhausting time to achieve the goal. Or, even worse, a campaign that never really takes off and then ultimately fails.  

It is enough to keep everyone up at night.

If you lose the magic ingredient of momentum, you literally may not be able to complete your important campaign to expand your organization’s mission.

Control the Risk of a Capital Campaign

Your capital campaign doesn’t have to meet that end. You can take some strategic steps early on – especially during initial planning – to set the stage for success. 

Building momentum means you gain energy, gather steam and build excitement as you go – like a steam train. Wouldn’t that be a dream come true? Everyone wants to be part of something this hopeful.

And never forget that success naturally breeds more success.

This week, our VP Kathryn Gamble is sharing a video about building the essential ingredient of momentum in your capital campaign.

A Strong Start Out of the Gate

One thing to remember about campaign momentum is that a strong start out of the gate is critical. 

When you launch with vigor, you create enthusiasm in your team and among donors. A strong start makes everyone eager to participate and contribute. 

You build credibility and confidence in the campaign – essential factors for closing big gifts.

When a campaign has great momentum, you’ll even have people tapping you on the shoulder to ask, “How can I help?”

That requires some careful groundwork.  We recommend starting with feasibility study to review your fundraising potential. A good study will identify the key steps and strategy to get your campaign off and running quickly.

The next step is to prepare your donors so they are ready to support your campaign. This step – to create “donor readiness,” can take time. But, this investment of time will pay off big. 

What can you do now to build that kind of momentum? 

Momentum needs time to build, so it’s important to lay the foundation by setting up your campaign plan at the very beginning.

It’s a bit like lining up dominos – once you are ready, all the the dominos will fall in place, one by one.

The secret is to have the right people in place early on, and secure the important gifts first. These are the gifts that will set the pace for your campaign, and create confidence among the rest of your donors.

Start Building Relationships with Donors – Early and Often. 

The time to begin cultivating deeper relationships with your major donors is now, long before you approach them about a capital campaign gift. Even long before a feasibility study interview. 

That can include making thank you calls or visits to express appreciation for their past gifts. And, update them on a few ways their money has made an impact.

Ideally, you need to have friendly relationships with your donors well before a campaign. So, if you don’t know your donors personally, it’s time to get out the door and get to know them!

We shared what you need to learn about your donors in last week’s post: their why, their potential gift level, and their timing.  

This will tell you so much about how the donor will respond to a capital campaign request. Then, you can make sure that your BIG ASK connects with what they truly care about. 

Use your Feasibility Study to Lay the Groundwork with Donors. 

A feasibility study offers more than a yes or no answer for your campaign.  It helps determine each major donor’s level of interest, excitement and commitment to your proposed campaign. 

It answers the question: are your donors ready now to support your campaign?  

When the answer is “not quite,” we know that there is work to do.  And, we have a good idea of what those steps toward donor readiness need to be.  

The feasibility study recommendations lay out the plan to move forward and start building the momentum for your campaign.

We often relate this to getting an airplane off the ground – you need to gain momentum going down the runway to lift off the ground.  

Tap Into the Resources of Your Consultant.

Working with a capital campaign consultant helps ensure that your campaign gets off to a strong start, so you can start building momentum immediately. 

Campaign consultants mitigate your risk. We provide a road map – a Campaign Strategy – based on your donor data, the feasibility study interviews, and our professional experience. 

Here are just a few of the benefits a consultant can bring:

  • Confidence – A campaign is a big undertaking.  The presence of a seasoned consultant can calm the waters for the board, leadership and development team and keep everyone on task.
  • Strategy – A good campaign plan is more than a timeline; it articulates your campaign strategy.  Strategy is the science and art of employing the right activities at the right time with the right people.  Your organization is unique so your campaign strategy should reflect that.
  • Alignment – As we have said, a campaign is a big undertaking.  It is all hands on deck. We frame this as “flying like geese.”  This means the consultant ensures that the campaign strategy is understood and supported by the board, campaign leadership, and the organization’s leadership.

While consultants provide many services, we believe these three key benefits – confidence, strategy, and alignment – are important results of working with a consultant.    

If you have a consultant, use them to the fullest. They can provide a tremendous boost at the start of the campaign – and ongoing – to build and sustain momentum. (And if you don’t have a consultant, reach out to us to discuss that possibility!)

BOTTOM LINE: Campaign momentum is essential to a thriving and successful campaign, and it starts with good, early planning.

If you’re in the beginning stages of your campaign and want to bounce around some ideas, reach out for a free strategy call. Send an email to to schedule a time.


How to Get Ready for a Capital Campaign

Capital Campaign Roadblocks to Fundraising Success

How to Create an Inspirational, Compelling Case Statement

Over the years, many fundraisers have asked about our journey from practitioners to consultants. How Gail Perry Group got started. And how did we come to be consultants – offering advice and strategies to all sorts of organizations and institutions?

Well, we can tell you – it’s a journey filled with adventure, mistakes and lots of learning.

Here’s our story – with the lessons we learned along the way. 

Years ago, Kathryn and I were advancing in the fundraising field, doing well at our universities – seemingly happy.

But something kept bothering me. Something was missing. 

I enjoyed my work, but all along I had this idea that I needed a broader scope than only one organization. I wanted to reach out – and inspire – more and more nonprofit leaders and fundraisers.

That’s why, for me, when the time came to leave my position at the University of North Carolina, the move to consulting happened organically. Organizations were reaching out to me quickly – asking if I could help them grow their revenue so they could expand. And before I knew it, I was in deep with many consulting clients. 

But the transition wasn’t easy. Becoming a consultant required some learning. As Kathryn and I embarked as consultants, we learned that to achieve true mastery with our clients and their campaigns, we had to get a few things right.

Lessons Learned: Becoming Master Consultants

1. Always Keep Learning and Learning 

As a consultant, you must keep up with the latest knowledge and trends in the field – especially the various reports tracking shifts in donor behavior, along with everything else.

In addition to major gifts and capital campaigns (our forte) we also needed to know as much as possible about all types of fundraising: integrated direct mail and digital campaigns, planned giving, Donor Advised Funds, corporate and foundation grants, government and public sector funding, event sponsorships, auctions, and social media. 

And yes, finance and accounting, too.  Don’t forget digital and video marketing. Add Big Data, CRM’s and wealth screening to the mix as well. Acquiring the scope of knowledge we needed was – and is – a lifelong commitment. 

We found that to be expert consultants, we consistently need a solid working knowledge of all these areas, and more. 

2. The Art of Client Management

One thing we learned quickly is that, as a consultant, you can’t just pontificate and tell people what to do. It doesn’t work.

People don’t want to be told what to do – they need to be coached in opening to a new idea. 

What does it really take to get someone to accept a change or a challenging concept? We learned to go slowly, and respectfully meet people where they are. We learned to serve as mirrors – reflecting back to our clients and guiding them to come to their own realizations.

Only when you do that can you really create an impact or foster deep change. 

We also learned that all organizations are different. What works for one may not be right for another. Flexibility is the name of the game. We learned that you can’t only see things one way, and that a cookie cutter approach just doesn’t work. 

Mostly, we learned to ditch the standard cookie cutter approaches, and instead customize each campaign and fundraising initiative to each client. 

3. Mastering Board Dynamics  

The field of board governance is complex and vast. And as a consultant, it is a critical arena to better understand and know how to maneuver in order to help clients.

Learning to understand the subtle arts of organizational politics and the psychology of group process (management by committee, anyone?) was a journey in itself. We needed to develop a working knowledge of organizational behavior, and hone our leadership and facilitation skills.

Not only that, but our clients needed us to be a grounding force with their boards. Corralling board members into one direction, while at the same, inspiring and motivating them. Needless to say, this is an art that not everyone masters. 

We learned how to build a strong board, how to best introduce fundraising and friendmaking to boards in a way that makes it fun, and how to get board members to engage in and support the fundraising process. 

Bottom Line.

Sometimes to get where you want to go, you need to ask for help.

As a blossoming consultant, I hired a business consultant myself. They taught me powerful new facilitation skills and the secrets of creating change within an organization. Those ideas are ultimately what inspired my bookFired Up Fundraising: Turn Board Passion into Action, and my popular board workshop, Easy Fundraising and Friendmaking for Board Members. 

Looking back, I can confidently say that when we started we did not know what this journey would entail. But now, after helping hundreds of nonprofit organizations and boards, and learning through experience, we know this journey was our calling and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

As always, it is a pleasure to share our weekly news and insights with you. 

If your organization is planning a capital campaign or launching a major gifts program – we can help. Send an email to if you’d like to schedule a free strategy call with us.