With the economy improving, more nonprofits are launching capital campaigns to reach more people. Sadly, many campaigns stall from a few common mistakes. Brent A. Hafele, M.A. recently joined us for a webinar in which he shared several tips for avoiding these mistakes in order to make your fundraising campaign a great success.

You can watch the full replay here:

Full Transcript:

Steven: All right, great. Well, good afternoon to those of you on the
East Coast, and good morning, if you are on the West Coast.
Thanks for joining us for today’s webinar “Avoiding Common
Capital Campaign Mistakes.” My name is Steven Shattuck and I’m
the VP of Marketing over here at Bloomerang and I will be
moderating today’s discussion and today I’m joined by our guest.
He is Brent A. Hafele, M.A. Hey there Brent.

Brent HafeleBrent: Hello.

Steven: Thanks for joining us. Sorry, I didn’t mean to ignore the
people between coasts so if you are between coasts, also welcome
to you. Thanks for you for being here, Brent. Thanks to everyone
who’s joining us. This is going to be a great conversation about
capital campaigns. It’s actually one that Brent and I have been
planning, I think for a few months. So I’ve had it on my
calendar, and I’ve been really excited about the presentation,
and I had a chance to peek at the slides a little bit this
morning. You’re all in for a treat for sure.

For those of you who don’t know Brent, he provides counsel through
his practice, NewDay Nonprofit Solutions. He’s working with a
variety of nonprofit leadership areas, including capital
campaigns, general fundraising, strategic planning, board
governance relations, vibrancy planning. As a practitioner,
Brent’s got some boots on the ground experience. He worked in
the nonprofit sector for almost ten years, serving as executive
director of the Chippewa Valley Free Clinic and development
director of Hope Gospel Mission where he successfully led a
capital campaign to open a women’s shelter. That’s great.

So he’s got some real life experience with all the things he’s going
to talk about. Brent also has a Master of Arts degree in
Philanthropy and Development from Saint Mary’s University in
Minnesota. He’s a faculty member of the University of Saint
Thomas’ Fundraising Certificate Series where he actually teaches
courses on capital campaigns and nonprofit marketing. He’s also
a regular speaker at national, regional, and local conferences
on nonprofit leadership. So Brent, this is real treat to have
you. Thanks again for taking an hour or so out of your day to
share all of your knowledge with us. We really appreciate it.

Brent: Well, thank you guys. It’s great to be here and I appreciate
the opportunity to speak to you about really a passion of mine,
capital campaigns, and talk a little bit more about how to
really propel nonprofit organizations further and help them grow
forward. That’s something that I’m really all about so thank
you, I appreciate it, Steven.

Steven: Yeah, I can definitely tell you are. Well, good. I’m not going
to take up too much time. I know I want to get Brent started on
the presentation, just some housecleaning items. I will be
sending out the slides and a recording of the presentation a
little bit later on this afternoon. So look for an email from me
with all those resources. So if you have to leave early or
perhaps you’d want to revisit some of the content, you’ll be
able to do that.

And as Brent’s presenting, please do feel free to send some questions
through the chat box there. We’re going to stick around for a
Q&A session at the end where Brent’s going to be here as an
expert for you to answer any and all questions you have. So
don’t be shy. Send any questions our way and we’ll get to those
a little bit later on in the presentation. So Brent, why don’t
you take it away?

Brent: All right, let’s get to it. So today I want to talk to you
about capital campaigns and specifically I want to share with
you four common mistakes that I’ve found that nonprofits make on
a regular basis. And avoiding these four mistakes is really a
solid way to make sure that your campaign has a higher
likelihood of success. So in today’s agenda we’re going to start
with what is a capital campaign and what are the different
variations of that? Then from there we’re going to talk about
those four mistakes and then how to fix them, strategies for

Then we’re going to have lots of time for questions and answers and
so you’ll see on your screen, there’s a chat box, and I
encourage you throughout the webinar to send lots of questions.
That way Steven can ask me all of your questions and we can do
everything we can to help you in this webinar. Because really
we’re here for you and to help you have a better understanding
of this process. So what is a capital campaign? Bob Duncan has
probably the most simple, elegant definition of a capital
campaign. It’s a large dollar goal against a very short

So big money in a very, very short period of time and more
specifically though, a capital campaign is a very intensive,
highly coordinated fundraising effort. You’re going to put an
army of people together and coordinate the group of people
through the capital campaign process and help them move forward.
The reason you’re putting this army of people together — it’s
almost like setting up a separate organization when you’re
running a campaign for just a short period of time — is because
you have a very large goal.

Typically three to ten times the annual income of your organization,
and so this is substantial money for a nonprofit to raise in a
very short period of time. Then point three is that it’s over a
defined period of time. Typically a capital campaign will run at
the shortest, probably 12 to 15 months, but campaigns can go as
long as four or five years, depending on the structure of the
campaign, how big your goal is and what you’re trying to
accomplish in that campaign itself.

Now what types of campaigns are out there? Well, campaigns have a
number of goals that you can go for and the most common is
probably bricks and mortar, getting a larger facility, adding on
to your current facility, remodeling, acquiring property. That’s
usually the most common. But campaigns can also be used for a
number of other means that people don’t recognize as much.
Sometimes they can be used to expand a program or you can add
funding to actually help. You want to do some bricks and mortar
and then you also want to do some program upkeep or some cash
reserve, upgrade equipment, to do endowments as well.

And so once again, it’s that large capital goal or that large dollar
goal that really defines what a campaign is and ultimately the
goal of the campaign is to provide better services to more
people. And really no matter what nonprofit we are working in
our ultimate goal is, we’re serving people in some way, form, or
fashion. Even in an animal shelter, seemingly the animals are
the beneficiaries, but people are also those beneficiaries. And
so the goal is to improve those services to whoever values those
services and what they’re going to do. So let’s get right into
the four mistakes that I see nonprofits make and in the way that
they approach fundraising.

The very first mistake is that I see that they expect uniform gifts
and the easiest way is to say “Well, if we need to raise a
million dollars, let’s get 1,000 people to give $1,000.” Or
sometimes they’ll say “Let’s get 100 people to give $10,000 and
we’ll find that.” Really that doesn’t work. It’s not an
effective strategy and to some of us who are veteran
fundraisers, we know this. But there are a lot of board members,
and there are a lot of volunteers, and there are a lot of lay
fundraiser and newer fundraisers, that haven’t quite experienced
this yet. “So let’s spread out the dollar amount so that it’s
equal to everyone, that’s the best way to do this.”

And why do we do this? I think it’s because we’re really all about
fairness. We want it to be equitable to everyone. But the
problem with this type of solution, $1,000 from 1,000 donors to
raise a million dollars is twofold. Number one is it doesn’t
rightly match the appropriate gift amount to the individual or
to the donor’s capability of giving and their interest in
giving. So there may be some donors’ who a $50 gift is the best
that they can do in that campaign. And a $1,000 gift, they just
can’t touch it, so they’re not going to give to you.

There may be other donors that have the ability to give you $100,000
gift or a $500,000 gift, but you’re asking for $1,000. So then
you’re asking for less. The other problem with this type of
strategy is that when you’re asking for many, many, many, many
gifts from many people for very large dollar amounts — the
problem with doing a strategy like that is that it’s incredible
amounts of work to go out and find 1,000 donors that can give
$1,000, so the structure of it is even more work than the
classic capital campaigns. So how do we do it in a capital
campaign? Well, we’ll go back to our friend, the donor pyramid
and in the donor pyramid — Steven can you see my cursor here?

Steven: Yes, I can see it.

Brent: I’m still learning this webinar stuff.

Steven: Yeah, beautiful.

Brent: And the universe is anyone who might have interest in your
organization, in giving a gift to your organization. So in that
universe then, what the goal is, it’s to help get donors or
people from the universe to actually give to your organization.
And what you see is there are many, many, many donors that give
very small gifts and there are very few donors at the top. You
can see the surface area of these lead donors, there are very
few of them.

What’s interesting though, about the donor pyramid is that donors
actually give in the inverse. I’m trying to get to the slide
here, just a second. Okay so that slide’s not going to work.
We’ll try this other way. What we’ll actually see then — I’ll
just draw it. What we see is that donors will give in the
inverse, and so when you’re looking at dollars, you get a lot of
money from very few donors. And at the bottom you get a wee
little bit of money from many, many, many, many givers and
that’s the way the capital campaigns are structured.

You’ve heard about this before, it’s called the Pareto Principle, the
80/20 rule where 20% of the donors give 80% of the money or 20%
of the volunteers do 80% of the work. So we’ve heard of this
before, it applies to capital campaigns as well. And in fact,
more and more we’re going in that way where now it’s not just
80/20, but sometimes 90/10. And I’ve even heard of campaigns —
I believe the University of Florida just did a capital campaign
that was 97/3.

So 3% of the donors gave 90% of the money for this multi– I believe
it was a billion or $2 billion capital campaign. So that’s the
direction of this. So how does do you raise a million dollars?
Here’s the start of a gift range chart. What you see is the very
first gift that we need is one gift of $150,000. Now that’s
roughly 14% of the total goal.

This gift is really critical and how you read this is the number of
gifts you need. What are the dollar amounts and then how many
prospects do you need? You need three people who have the
ability to give $150,000. Statistically one of those three who
are interested in your program will actually give it. Dollars in
range and then total dollars, this first tier what you’ll see
here now is nine donors are going to give 45% of the total
gifts. And so it’s really important to be able to connect with
the largest donors and to be able to understand whether they
have the ability to give and whether they have the interest in

I had the unfortunate circumstance of working with an organization
that wanted to build a pool and this group they were very
interested in building a pool, so they had hired me to do a
campaign preplanning study. Some of you have heard of that as a
feasibility study. And when I came in to do the study I spoke
with individuals who had the ability to give these types of
gifts, these very large, either upper five-figure gifts or lower
to midrange six-figure gifts. And while the community was very
excited about a pool and they had lots of surveys saying “We
should go forward with this pool idea,” the major donors were
not a fan of the pool.

Unfortunately it shut down the project, because we couldn’t find the
people at the top to give those dollar gifts. So as you move
down the gift range chart or the table of gifts needed, you can
see that we go all the way down to we need 150 donors to give
$250 each and that gift is to our $1.1 million goal in this. But
at the end, the most important gifts are these top gifts. If you
can’t get those very top gifts, the top ten to top 15 gifts,
you’re not going to have a campaign. And so it’s very critical
to think about that and to make sure that you’re not worried
about equity. But you’re more worried about making sure that
you’re asking for the right size of gifts for your campaign.

The next mistake that I said — you heard me allude to a preplanning
study, campaign planning study and the next mistake that I see
is actually skipping the campaign studies. And what a campaign
study is you hire a consultant and yes, I realize that I am a
consultant, so there may be a couple people that think that’s

But really it’s a research project that needs to done prior to a
capital campaign for probably 90-95% of organizations. Those
that fit into the 5-10% typically are very, very sophisticated
fundraising operations, like very experienced universities that
know their donors extremely well, have giving officers in the
range of 100 in their development staff and some of those
organizations can skip the study. But the capital campaign
planning study or feasibility study is a critical aspect of a
capital campaign and here’s what campaign studies do.

First of all, they test the case. You’re able to ask the questions
“Do people resonate with this case, with the project that we’re
trying to do? Is it compelling? Is it something that is exciting
and that donors resonate with?” When I had mentioned the pool,
unfortunately the major donors did not find the pool as
something that’s compelling, even though they had the capacity
to give. So really finding out is the case compelling is
something that’s really important and how to structure that.

There are other projects that as you go through, you find out “Wow,
there’s just overwhelming support for this. They’re really
excited about the case.” The next thing you’re looking for is
assessing the capacity, so financial resources are out there to
be given to this campaign. So for that million dollar goal, who
has the capacity to give $150,000 gifts? And really looking at
that population and finding out who has the capacity and who has
the inclination as well, and really gauging that to be able to
see “Do we have enough donors and do we have donors of
sufficient capacity to be able to reach the goal?”

And the reason this is important is that within that study — at the
end of the study — once the research is done, you’re consultant
will come back to you and give you some pointers, give you some
suggestions, and be able to say “I think that $1 million is a
little bit steep. Maybe we should go for $750,000.” Or they
might say “I really think you should go for $2 million. I think
we should add an endowment to this because when I’m looking at
the capacity and the interest, this is a campaign that’s really
going to go well.”

The third thing that the campaign planning study is looking for is
leadership and who will lead this campaign? Capital campaigns
specifically are best run when they’re run by volunteers
Specifically when they’re run by volunteers who are peers, or in
that cohort group that have the capacity to give a top ten gift
because it’s much easier for Phyllis on the steering committee
to talk to Hazel and say “Hazel, I put $100,000 of my own money
in this. Would you give a gift of $75,000″ than it is for a
staff person who doesn’t really have a relationship with Phyllis
and be able to ask that question of her and say “Would you give
a $75,000 gift?”

When you’re asking from peer to peer while technically the ask may
not be as elegant, it’s certainly much more effective when it’s
a peer to peer situation. The other thing is that when you’re
adding, a lot of times staffs don’t have the time ability to do
as much work as needs to be done. Certainly we want to have the
staff involved, the executive director, the development
director, if there is one and other staff people, as possible.
But you definitely need to find out who are the people that are
the best to provide that leadership. And here’s the key question
that I ask when I do a campaign planning study.

I ask “Who can you think of that if they were part of this campaign,
doggone it, it’s going to succeed?” Because there are certain
people that come to mind that “If Harold and Millie are leading
this campaign, the community’s going to be behind it.” And if
they’re not part of the campaign, you’re not going to be likely
to get the community to come with you. There are certain thought
leaders and influencers that have that capacity and so who are
those people for your campaign? The final thing that we evaluate
in a planning study is “How ready is your organization to
succeed in this campaign?”

Campaigns are like running a marathon and if I were to say “We’re
going to have a marathon tomorrow, are you ready to run it?”
Well, many of you may not be ready to run a marathon tomorrow
and myself, included. But if we said “We’re going to run a
marathon in a year,” then perhaps you might be better to do
that. So checking that readiness to make sure that you are ready
for the marathon that is the capital campaign is something
that’s really important and making sure that you have the
systems that either can be fixed while we’re in the middle of
the campaign, or that may be delaying a little bit, so that your
organization can be stronger is a good step.

The final real benefit of a capital campaign planning study is that
the planning study can help prepare your donors and your
leadership for the campaign itself. It gives those donors the
opportunity to start thinking about your campaign and thinking
about their gift. In an environment where they don’t have to
worry about being asked right away and so they can start getting
excited, getting interested and moving forward with that. So
it’s a really valuable tool that is very important to be done.

So we’re about halfway through the mistakes that I see nonprofits
make and I’m hoping that you’re thinking of some questions right
now. So I want to encourage you in about 15 minutes, we’re going
to start taking questions and so I would encourage to start
putting your questions into that chat window, so Steven can
start organizing them and getting ready.

And Leah just asked “What is the study called?” It’s called a
preplanning study or a feasibility study and by the way –a
feasibility study is going out of popularity as far as the term.
And the reason is, is that most nonprofits, they don’t want to
know whether the project is feasible or not. They want to know
how to do it and so many nonprofits are going to go forward
whether the consultant thinks it’s feasible or not. They want to
know how to structure it and they want to know what the goals
should be. So a preplanning study is really a much more
appropriate statement to go by.

All right, the next mistake is going public too soon and this is a
mistake that makes me smile and makes me sad all at the same
time. I have a capital campaign that I’m leading up in Bemidji,
Minnesota for an art center. I was driving up there and I drove
through Duluth, Minnesota and as I was driving through Duluth I
saw a thermometer on the wall.

And I wish I would have had the chance to take a picture of it, but
it literally was at 10? and we’re throwing a campaign and they
even said their goal was $2 million and it had 10? on it. I
don’t know any thermometer that’s exciting when it’s got 10?
whether it’s a real thermometer that actually takes temperature
or whether it is a thermometer that is for a capital campaign or
any campaign for that matter. It’s just not very exciting and so
when you think about a $2 million goal or a $5 million goal and
we have $50,000 in the bank already and we’re raising $5
million, donors look at that and they say “Well, what is my
$1,000 going to do when you don’t have that money?”

Whereas, when your thermometer looks like this, we’re raising $2
million. We’ve got 75% of the goal in already. We need everybody
to come and put their pennies together. We need every brat fry,
bake sale. We need donors to give their $1,000, their $5. We
need everyone to get involved and do a great big push to go
public. Then you have that psychology and you have that
excitement that really can bring a campaign.

So let me take a minute and walk you through the steps, the phases of
a campaign, because capital campaigns are one of the few areas
in fundraising. They’re very structured and regimented and
almost every campaign goes through the same steps whereas annual
giving, you know the number of letters you might send. Or there
are a lot of variables within how you do annual giving or online
giving, or any of those types of things. Events management,
they’re all different. Capital campaigns tend to be very, very

So let me walk you through those steps. The first step is to do the
preplanning and preplanning is really the process of getting
ready to get ready for the campaign, if that makes any sense. So
preplanning is the two to three years prior to the campaign
itself and getting your organization ready. That might be
preparing your architectural documents. It might be doing your
strategic plan. There are a number of things that you do in that
preplanning phase.

Then you enter the planning phase and the planning of the campaign is
when you do your planning study, your campaign planning study.
That’s when you usually will bring on counsel, retain a
consultant who can help you through that campaign and walk you
through that planning stage, do the study and say “I think this
should be your goal. I think this is who your leadership team
should be” and how you move forward.

The next step is when you actually start doing fundraising and that’s
called the quiet phase. In the quiet phase you are taking very
quiet efforts to raise between 60-80% of your goal in cash or
pledges. You’re meeting with those who would if they could give
a top ten gift and asking them for the big money, so a six-
figure gift, an upper five-figure gift.

Sometimes it’s a seven-figure gift. You’re asking those donors to
give big money and what you’re doing is you’re working quietly
to raise that thermometer. So that when you go public, when you
go out to the community you’ve got 60-80% of the goal already
achieved, and that’s a statement to the community that you are
ready. So that’s what that quiet phase is all about and how that
quiet phase works. Once you have the 60-80%, then you enter the
public phase and you do that by going public or launching the

Now you’ve been quiet for many, many months. The quiet phase could
last six to nine months, sometimes 12. But you had this quiet
phase where you don’t even have press releases about doing a
campaign. You’re not talking to the community about a campaign.
You don’t have any brochures or literature. All of sudden there
is an explosion of energy that goes out to the community and
says “We’re having a campaign. We are raising $2 million dollars
and we’ve got $1.5 in the bank. We need everyone to come out and

You might do a press conference. You might do a big kickoff event.
You might have an army or fundraising teams going out to meet
with different groups. You have a lot of public presentations
that go and meet with church groups, and social service groups,
and work groups, and employers, and employees, and grants, a
flurry of energy that happens in the public phase. And most
people think that once you reach your goal, the campaign is
done. But I think there’s a final phase to that, that I think is
really important, and that is the celebration phase.

The celebration phase is when you throw — there are a couple of
things. But number one you throw a big party that’s appropriate
for your organization. If it was a Boys and Girls Club, you
might throw a community carnival and invite the community down
to the new center to see the facility and there’d be games for
kids to play and music and popcorn and other types of things for
the community to come.

Really the reason that you’re doing this celebration is a few-fold.
Number one is you want to thank the donors for their support and
you want to show them what you did with their support. What you
did with their gifts, how you were a wise steward of the
resources they trusted to you.

You also want to show to your community that your organization is a
success. It’s a great big PR opportunity to marry your
organization with the concept of success. So when they think of
your art center, when they think of your environmental center,
when they think of the school that you run or the homeless
shelter that you operate, they think “Wow, what a great
organization. They did an awesome job with their campaign. They
have a beautiful facility and I really want to continue
supporting them.”

That’s the final reason that the celebration is really important is
that it’s an opportunity to continue stewarding the relationship
with those donors. Because research shows that capital campaigns
well-run will actually boost annual giving over time, so annual
giving will improve, if you steward those donors right. And the
celebration is a great tool to steward the donors and start the
process of bringing annual gifts in. All right, that’s mistake
number three is going public too early.

Now here’s the last mistake and this also has to go with timing. The
last mistake is launching your campaign prematurely. I’ve seen a
number of organizations that have launched early or they weren’t
ready to launch and really a bad campaign is worse than no
campaign. Because just like you want to come out to the
community and demonstrate “We’re successful. We did it,” to the
community — you don’t want to go and launch a campaign and then
fail because that marks your organization with failure and we
don’t want to do that. That’s not a good brand for your

I’ll remind you that brand is not just your logo and what you put
out, but it’s the total sum of the stories of everyone in the
community that think about your organization. So half here is I
see really two types of organizations out there. There’s an
organization that lives in what I call the campaign cycle, where
they live for a long period of time with no campaign. No
campaign, no campaign, no campaign, and they really are not
thinking ahead into the future, and all of sudden one day “Oh,
my goodness, we’re overwhelmed. We’re slammed. We need to do a
campaign and we need to get going with our capital campaign.”

And they find, “Wow. Our donor systems and our development systems
are not in the right shape. Our case is just really not well
setup.” There are a number of problems that come in with that,
so there’s an alternative and this is what I see as a better
alternative. There are organizations out there though, that work
under a growth cycle. They assume that “We’re going to continue
to grow. We’re not quite sure when our next campaign is, but
we’re going to grow. We’re going to take the time. We’re going
to plan ahead.”

So these organizations, they start with a plan, and then they move
into a preparation stage. So they say “In three years we’re
going to launch a capital campaign, therefore we’re going to get
our donor database in order. We’re going to work with expanding
the number of donors that we have. We’re going to beef up our
PR. We’re going to improve our board members and we’re going to
get everything all set. And then we’re going to launch the
campaign, and we’ll go through this growth phase right here and
we’re going to grow for a period of time.”

And after you grow then you enter into a sustainability phase. In
each of these phases you are planning ahead and so in the
prepare phase you are assuming that after the campaign is done,
we’re going to have to keep this thing sustainable. And as
you’re in the sustain phase where you just finished a capital
campaign, but we’re getting ourselves ready for the next one.
Because maybe its ten years down the road, but we’re thinking
ahead so that whenever that demographic grows, whenever the need
increases, when the environment changes, we’re ready. That’s
something I think is the hallmark of a really strong

So I have a pre-campaign checklist that I produced for nonprofit
organizations that are thinking about doing a capital campaign
and want to avoid this trap of launching prematurely. So this
checklist is available to you. If you go to my website
newdaynonprofit.com and if you sign up for my blog in the upper
right-hand corner, I will send you the checklist. So I’m happy
to give you the checklist. The checklist its self goes through
and talks about six different areas of preparation and the first
area is “Do you have a strategic plan?” And “What does your
strategic plan say? Do you have a track record of actually
implementing or creating goals and then successfully
implementing them, successfully achieving them?”

It also goes through fundraising. For example, do you have a good
relationship with your top 50 donors? If you don’t know who your
top 50 donors are and have good notes on your top 50 donors, in
your donor database, if you haven’t talked with them and done
donor reports, then you might not be ready for that campaign.
You should make sure that you’re ready with that. If you’re
fundraising systems, like the receiving systems are not in good
shape, it might not be time.

Staff, if your executive director’s likely to retire in the next year
it might not be time for a capital campaign. If you don’t have
the right executive director, it might not be time. So it’s
making sure that you’ve got the right staff people in place. If
your development director’s not there yet, I have one
organization that I’m working with right now that they have a
very young development director. In fact, he was just hired
three months ago and this is his first fundraising job. Very,
very capable young man, but I advised the organization not to
move forward for a year so that they can really solidify this
young man and their executive director.

So I’m going to be working with them and coaching them through these
stages to help them strengthen their organization and get their
staff upright, so that when they hit the campaign, they do it
very successfully. Is the board right? Have you got good board
members on the board? Are they engaged? Are they all giving? Are
they types of board members that can be helpful in the campaign
its self? So planning that ahead is really helpful as well.

So this is as much a checklist to help you understand what you need
to do to be ready as a checklist to say “Are you ready? Is the
project well-developed? Do you have a budget for the project? Do
you have a budget for the organization once your capital
campaign is done and you’ve built your building, do you have a
budge pro forma for the next five years or ten years?”

Then finally counsel, capital campaign counsel. Have you started to
talk with the different capital campaign consultants to find the
right one for your organization? It’s important to start
talking, especially before you launch into your campaign. As you
get to know the folks that are the right fit for you and for
your organization, you’ll be very comfortable moving forward
with that campaign counsel and asking them questions.

Sometimes you can even get free counsel from them on a limited basis,
but sometimes they can help you get started as you’re moving
forward. And so really connecting with the right counsel, I
think is wise for your organization. So please sign up for my
blog at newdaynonprofit.com, upper right-hand corner and I will
be happy to send you a copy of the campaign preplanning
checklist and I’ll do that next week, Wednesday. So anyone that
signs up by Wednesday they will get that campaign checklist.

One more recommendation and then after that I’ll take your questions.
I have a book recommendation for you, “Capital Campaigns:
Strategies That Work,” the third edition, by Andrea Kihlstedt.
This is in my opinion the book. There are lots of books. I have
a shelf of probably 20 different capital campaign books out
there. This is the one, so if you’re going to buy one book, this
is a buy. Yes, on Amazon its $65 or sometimes it’s up as high
$80. You’re going to invest a lot of money in a capital
campaign, likely anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000 in
fundraising itself.

So it’s a book that’s only $80. When you think about it, it’s well
worth the expense. It takes your through step-by-step. It’s very
clean. I think Andrea does a phenomenal job and no, I don’t get
any proceeds from the books that I promote for her. I just
really like the book. So with that, Steven, do we have questions
that I can help you with?

Steven: Yeah, absolutely. Well, thanks Brent that was really awesome.
Hopefully everyone enjoyed that as much as I did. Great
information and I think you really got people’s juices flowing
because we have quite a bit of questions. So thanks to everyone
who sent a question in and was a good sport about that. Brent,
I’ll just go through these from the top here.

So let’s see. We’ve got a question here from Sarah. Sarah’s wondering
how you approach corporate partners in order to expand outside
your local market? So what advice did you have for Sarah who’s
maybe wanting to approach some corporations for help with this?

Brent: Well, Sarah, I think one of the first things to be reminded of
is that when you look at the total dollar amount that
corporations give to the philanthropic sector, in comparison
with all the other entities — and so when you take all the
nongovernment money that was transferred from some other sector
to the nonprofit sector — corporations only gave 6%. And when
you look at individual donors they gave roughly 83%, when you
include bequests and estate gifts and planned gifts.

And so one of the first things that I think is important to consider
is that corporations are not in the business of giving money
out. They’re in the business of making money so that’s why they
only give 6%. So be very cautious as to how much energy you put
into them.

Now there are certain businesses that you may have a corporation in
your city that may be willing to give a significant gift, and in
those cases, it’s important that you understand number one “Is
the philanthropy of that company a good fit for your

If you’re a faith-based organization, don’t apply to Target. You’re
just not likely to get support from Target if you’re faith-based
because that’s not what they’re into. If they’re into education,
if you’re an education organization, then Target might be a
great place to apply to. If you’re faith-based though, Wal-Mart
might be a great place to apply. Now the thing that you need to
understand though is Wal-Mart is in every city in the country,
literally. So you may not get very, very large gifts from the
Wal-Mart Foundation, unless you have, for example, a
distribution center locally or a large volume of volunteers
involved, or if you happen to be in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Other than that it may not be a wise investment of your time and so
really the first thing that I recommend is go to the corporate
website and look at what they give to and what they’re
interested in. Often, corporations will have their own
foundation and foundations happen to have 990s and so go to that
foundation’s 990 and take a look at what they’re giving has been
and what their types of gifts have been and do some research
that way as well. So those are some strategies to get involved.

The other thing is find a local champion within that business. The
more employees you can have involved in your campaign the
better. And if you can find a local champion — the local
district manager or the local vice-president or local president
or some sort of C level employee, chief financial officer, chief
operating officer, chief marketing officer like Steven is,
someone like that to really be a champion for your organization
within their company — that’s another good strategy. Because
then they can help make the phone calls that can get you around
some of the gatekeepers. So I hope that helps you, Sarah, with
corporate questions. What’s next, Steven?

Steven: We’ve got a question here from Connie. What about startups and
capital campaigns? So a very new nonprofit, perhaps a very small
nonprofit that’s just getting started. Are the capital campaigns
something that’s feasible for them? Is there a certain minimum
age of a nonprofit before you should start thinking about this
kind of thing? What would you say to Connie about being a
startup nonprofit?

Brent: Well, Connie, startups, and capital campaigns are especially
hard. It certainly is not undoable though, because how does a
homeless shelter start and get a facility if it doesn’t do a
capital campaign to raise the money for the facility? So when
you think about something like that or a museum that opens for
the first time. So usually there’s some form of large capital
drive at the beginning for a nonprofit. That said, they are very
tricky and they can be a lot of work. Because you’re not only
building a nonprofit, you’re also building a capital campaign.

Like I said when you’re running a capital campaign, it’s like running
two organization s. Now that said, I’m not trying to scare you
and I’m not trying to tell you that they can’t be done because
they can and I’ve seen example of that happen successfully and
really developed their organization. It’s very important though
that number one, I think it’s critical that you get counsel and
have capital campaign counsel walking with you through that. And
actually it’s a real benefit to have counsel in that case
because the consultant can not only give you some counsel on how
to run the campaign, but how to set up your organization and
really get that going as well.

It’s also important to get some really significant champions at the
beginning, and so that’s where some of those large donors, if
you have some large donors, the philanthropist in the community
behind your efforts and behind what you’re doing, then your
campaign is likely to succeed and your nonprofit’s likely to
succeed as well.

There’s a local example in Eau Clair of the Eau Clair Children’s
Museum started with a capital campaign. Pat Redman had a vision
of getting this done and he connected with some various very
influential and high capacity donors and said, “We need a
children’s museum. We’ve got to have a place for kids to go and
learn, and to play with their hands and grow.”

They went ahead and they launched a great campaign. They had the
right people. They had the right systems. They just did a bang
up job of their campaign and the children’s museums been going
strong for five years, and five years into their history they
launched a second capital campaign to expand and launch into
their second floor. So it certainly can be done, Connie. I think
that this is where wise counsel is really important. It also is
a lot of determination, as you know when you’re starting a

Steven: Great. We’ve got a comment and a question here from Angela.
Angela loved what you said about mistake number two. But she’s
having trouble it looks like, getting some buy-in from maybe a
boss or a higher up about the need for preplanning. What advice
would you have for someone who agrees with everything you said,
Brent, but needs to get buy-in from the top on this kind of

Brent: About the planning studies, specifically?

Steven: Yeah, the need for preplanning.

Brent: I think the importance of that preplanning study and really
getting that part is one of the things that you share with —
number one you can share this video and walk through that and be
able to say “Hey, take a look at this.” Another thing is I think
Andrea’s book does a really nice job pointing that out and
explaining why that study is so critical.

By the way I have an article, Angela. If you want you can send me an
email, and signup for my blog, and you send me an email though
at brent@newdaynonprofit.com. I’ll just throw that up on the
screen so you can get that. But you send me an email I will send
you a campaign study article that you can share as well that
goes through the explanation of why that’s important.

Another thing that you can do and this is something that’s always
wise to do too is to talk to other nonprofits that have
successfully led campaigns. You probably know of organizations
in town that have done campaigns. Go talk to them and find out
“How did you do your campaign? Did you do a study? Did it go
well? What went well? Why did you do the study? Did you find the
study beneficial?” And in most cases, you’re going to find that
there was a study involved. You’re going to find some examples
where there wasn’t, but in most cases, you’re going to find that
there were.

The last thing is to sometime set up a phone call with a consultant
and your supervisor and have them, talk to each other about
that. Because usually there are some questions that can be asked
that can suddenly reveal “Oh, we may not know as much about this
as we thought we did,” and that can be very helpful to that
leader in pointing them in the right direction. So I hope that
helps you, Angela, and thank you for the compliment on step two.
I definitely agree.

Steven: Well, here’s one from Leah. Leah’s wondering “Do you publicize
all major donors?” So he’s concerned, “What if two major donors
are competing in the sense that they may not both contribute if
they’re aware of the other donor’s contribution? So could you
maybe shoot yourself in the foot by publicizing who’s giving
there?” What are some best practices for actually making that
information public?

Brent: Well, when it comes to that type of situation, Leah, when you
need to ask the question “How much do you publicize these gifts
and how do you recognize donors?” There are two answers that I
have to that. Number one, that’s the real value of having a
leadership team of volunteers. Because that leadership team of
volunteers are going to be able to speak to how to specifically
address those types of situations in your particular community.

With the counsel of the leadership of a consultant who can ask the
right questions and draw that information out of your steering
committee, the steering committee can tell you very specifically
“Yeah, I think we should keep recognition quiet in this
campaign. And we’ll do it this way versus that way.” Or
“Recognition, let’s go all out. In this community it’s really
important. We’ve got to beat that drum hard and get everyone, so
everybody knows that Dan Lawson gave a gift.” And they’ll know
based on that community’s needs.

I worked with a lot of Christian organizations and a lot of the
Christian organizations I work with don’t want to do any
recognition at all and they’re very quiet about that. Because
from a faith-based perspective, that’s just not something that’s
consistent with their faith, they hold off. Whereas some of the
secular clients that I work with, they are in some cases, very
verbose. They really want to get it out. And so I think it’s a
case-by-case basis.

The other thing is that there are certain donors that want to remain
anonymous and it’s always wise to respect that wish and work
with them. So I hope that helps you, Leah. If there’s anything
else I can help you with, please shoot me an email and we’ll
talk about that.

Steven: Cool. I think we’ve got about five more minutes for questions
so if you’ve been sitting on your hands and been too shy to ask
Brent something, please do. We’ve got about five minutes left
for Q&A, and Brent, I’ll just keep rolling through these.
Casey’s halfway through her goal in a capital campaign. Good
job, Casey. But they’ve hit a lull, “How do we revamp the
campaign or find fresh new prospects?” So they’ve hit a lull and
need something to jump start that again? What advice would you
have for Casey there?

Brent: Well, Casey what you are experiencing is what every campaign,
just about every campaign experiences. You get about halfway
through it, and almost similar to running a marathon, you’re
getting halfway through it and you’re just out of breath, and
you need to get that breath caught up and reinvigorate. So one
of the things that can be is bringing the steering committee
together and trying to find some easy wins. Are there donors
that you haven’t connected with yet and doing an all effort to
really get out and try to boost giving.

Because what happens is success breeds success, so as you start
bringing gifts in and as you start whirling in again, then that
energy reinvigorates and goes. I don’t know if you’re retaining
a consultant or not, but your consultant sometimes can help you
in understanding when is the right time to start building too,
because sometimes the breaking ground can be really helpful in
boosting fundraising as well. But you want to make sure you make
that decision with counsel at your side, because if you break
ground too early you can also really have hurt your campaign.

I know another organization I was not involved in this campaign — so
I’ll let you know that ahead of time — but I know another
organization that they broke ground at about 50% of goal and
they left at 60% of goal and they still have 40% of their
campaign five years later to pay off. So they’ve got this debt
that they’re trying to pay off and it’s just rough on them. So
you want to make sure that you go public at the right time.

While we’re at it, on the screen I have a free campaign checkup and
so whether you are planning a campaign, whether you’re in the
middle of a campaign, like Casey is or whether you’re after the
campaign and you want to talk about “How do we get
sustainability?” Or you want to talk about that growth cycle and
say “We want to get out of the campaign cycle and go into the
growth cycle.” Shoot me an email and let’s talk. I’d be happy to
do a quick campaign checkup and maybe there are a couple of
pointers that I can help you in or point you in the right
direction to help you move a little further faster.

So I think, again to just recap, Casey. Speaking with your campaign
counsel, getting your steering committee to really boost some
giving, and try to find the low-hanging fruit that’s left.
Sometimes it’s just a matter of fundamentals and going out and
trudging through it and saying, “Let’s make five more calls, and
let’s try to get that next gift in.” Because once you get a
couple of gifts closed, then you’ve got that success to breed
more success.

Steven: That’s great advice and we’ve got a question from Dana that
dovetails into that a little bit. Dana’s wondering “How do you
successfully extend a campaign?” So she’s got a match provider
that would like to increase the goal and extend the actual
campaign, any advice for Dana on actually doing that, extending
the campaign?

Steven: Well, what a great situation to be in, Dana. Wow. I guess there
are two things. One, in the ideal situation you have not gone
public yet. Because when you go public, that’s when you announce
your goal and until you go public, your goal can be fluid. So if
you have a $1 million goal and you haven’t gone public, well you
just adjust the goal and you say “Well, now we’re $1.5 million,
because we’ve got a $250,000 match.” So you just boost your goal

In another situation though, when you have a match and they want to
boost the goal, I think that’s one of those where you have to
communicate that well to your community. Your steering committee
— and you’re going to hear some themes. The consultant, the
steering committee, and making sure you’re checking with them,
but verifying and speaking to your steering committee and
getting very clear with them and saying “How do we raise this

And sometimes raising the goal means you go back to your top ten
donors and you say “Thank you so much for your gift. We’re so
grateful for that. Something changed in the campaign and we want
to really communicate this with you. We’d like to ask your
advice about what to do.” There’s an old fundraising adage that
says “When you ask for money you get advice. When you ask for
advice you get money.”

So going back to those major donors and saying “We have $1 million
dollar gift that is available to us as a match and it came at
the end of our campaign and we’re thinking about extending the
campaign. But we don’t know how to do this, but we want to take
advantage of this $1 million. Can you give us some ideas of how
to make this happen?” And engaging some of your top donors to
participate in that and you may be able to do a second campaign
somewhere in there.

So Dana, I guess that would be my best advice, without knowing the
details of yours that would be my best thought. Is to go back to
your steering committee, and go back to your top donors, even
some of those that have already given a gift because they’ve got
skin in the game already. They’re very interested. They want to
make sure the campaign is successful, so that’s a way to get in

Steven: Great. We’ve got a question here.

[Azeal] was wondering “What’s
the process of selecting a consultant?” I know you’re a
consultant, obviously Brent, and I hope people will select you.
But what tips would you have for folks who are maybe vetting two
or three candidates to help them out with this kind of thing?

Brent: You said the name was Azeal?

Steven: I think I’m pronouncing that correctly. Hopefully, I am.

Brent: Pretty close, okay. All right, so Azeal and I would agree with
Steven on that too, I hope that you select me as well. But when
you’re selecting a consultant there are a couple things that I
really think is wise to look for. Number one is you want to make
sure that you have someone that’s obviously competent, who knows
what they’re doing and can do it well, and hopefully has a track
record of success in what they’re doing.

The second thing beyond competency that you’re looking for is “What
is the quality of service that you’re going to get? How does
that consultant treat you in the sales process? Are they
persistent? Are they calling you back? Are they checking in with
you? Are they polite when they do that?” Because that’s the type
of service that you’re going to get when you are working with
them later on hopefully and so you want to make sure that
they’re persistent, because a good capital campaign consultant
is going to be pushing you throughout the campaign and will be
calling you regularly. If they can’t do that in the sales
process they’re not going to do it during the campaign.

The next that I think is really important when you’re looking at a
consultant is checking their references, making sure that this
person is good to work with and they have great skills in
checking with them.

Then the final thing that I think is really critical and I think
frankly underappreciated is do you like the consultant? So once
you have verified that they’re qualified, they’re going to
provide great service, that they have good references, at the
end of the day “Do you like this person? Do you respect him or
her,” because if you don’t like them, if you don’t respect them,
even if they’re qualified, it’s going to be a rough experience.
You’ll be working with your consultant anywhere from 12-36
months, somewhere in that range, 12-24 months. If you don’t like
them that experience is going to be really miserable because
you’ll be working closely with that person.

The other thing though is that in virtually every campaign there’s a
moment where the consultant is going to come to you as the staff
liaison of some sort and say “There’s a problem and the problem
is you and we need to talk about this. We need to fix it.” That
conversation is not going to go well, if you don’t respect the
consultant that you’re working with. They may be very talented,
but if you don’t like them, you’re not going to listen to that
counsel that is helping you in a constructively critical way.

And so finding someone that you can say “Yeah, I could receive
criticism from this person,” because I guarantee you it will
come. There will be moments where there’ll be tense moments in
that campaign and the consultant is going to have to step in and
say “I’ve got to work out the relationship between you and the
chair.” Or “Sometimes you just need to watch your temper.” Or
“Sometimes we’ve got to work on this.” Or “This is something
that’s got to be better organized.”

And that just is in every campaign part of that process of learning
and growing and getting better because campaigns are so intense,
they tend to highlight our flaws. So being able to work with
someone who you can trust, who you like, and who you can
understand will help you is really the way to go. So I hope that
that helps you, Azeal, in understanding how to select a

Steven: Cool. Well, great. I know there are a few questions that we
didn’t get to and we’re running close to the 2 o’clock hour here
and I want to be respectful of everyone’s time, especially if
they haven’t had their lunch. So Brent, I’m going to give you
the last word to just tell folks again how they can get in touch
with you and I hope some folks will take advantage of the offers
that he’s made here. But Brent, how can people get ahold of you
to talk more about this?

Brent: Well, the best way to get ahold of me is by email and
brent@newdaynonprofit.com. Shoot me an email and I’m offering a
free campaign checkup to anyone who’s on this call. And we’ll
talk for 45 minutes or an hour about your campaign, answer your
questions in more detail, and really get into understanding how
to help ensure that your campaign is most successful. So if I
can help in any way let me know that. I also just want to plug
my blog one more time.

I have a lot of helpful tips. I’m not real annoying. I’m not going to
send you something every day. It’s usually one or two, sometimes
three blog entries a month and so just go to
newdaynonprofit.com. My website and in the upper right-hand
corner, click blog and it’ll take you to signing up. And from
there if you sign up by next week Wednesday I’ll send you that
preplanning worksheet as well.

So I thank you so much and I really appreciated the opportunity to
share a little bit about campaigns and I hope that this has
helpful in preventing those four mistakes. Because if you watch
out for those four you have a significantly improved opportunity
to have a successful campaign and grow the impact of your
organization, so thank you.

Steven: Well, thank you. You’re the one who shared all this knowledge
with us for an hour, so really we owe you the thanks. And thanks
to everyone else who attended and took an hour out of their day
to listen and hang out with us. We do these webinars once a
week. We’re actually taking next week off, but there are some
opportunities for you to register for a couple webinars that
we’ve got coming up here in May.

We’re going to talk about nonprofit compliance. We’re going to talk
about video and infographic acknowledgements. We’re going to
talk about how to get your board to fundraise. So if any of
those topics look interesting to you, do check out our webinar
page and register for those. They’re totally free, totally
educational. We’ll get some more expert advice like we did from
Brent here today.

So with that, I’m going to say a final thanks to everyone for joining
us today. Look for an email from me a little later on this
afternoon. It’ll have the slides and a full recording so you can
re-watch this, if you think that’s necessary. Do reach out to
Brent. Take advantage of his offer and check out our upcoming
webinars. So thanks again, Brent, for being here and thanks to
everyone for joining us and we will talk to you soon. Have a
great rest of your day.

Major gift fundraising

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

Marketing Manager at Bloomerang
Kristen Hay is the Marketing Manager at Bloomerang. From 2018 - 2020, she served as the Director of Communications for the Public Relations Society of America's local Hoosier chapter. Prior to that she served on several different committees and in committee chair roles.