4. Raise Capital Dollars When You Need Them

Come on, Pat, you say. This surely cannot be an overarching principle for conundrum-free campaigns. If your organization does not have a real and felt need to raise capital dollars, then your efforts are going to be a bit like pushing spaghetti uphill. I mean warm, wiggly, soft spaghetti. It is going to be a tough sell to your donor audiences.

As we enter post-pandemic times, there are incredible opportunities for raising funds—no question. There are plenty of resources available in the stewardship/philanthropic marketplace. But there are also plenty of options for donors to invest their dollars. Many donors give to multiple organizations, so their loyalties are often broad.

Perhaps the most critical question you can ask internally is, “What do we really need to fund in our organization right now?” If there is a split second of hesitation in your answer, your capital campaign needs some additional planning. Have you created an internal wants and needs lists? If you had all the financial resources you needed, what would your organization accomplish? Have you asked the right questions of your leadership team, staff, volunteers, key stakeholders, and customers or service recipients? Many capital campaign conundrums are self-induced. We just flat out fail to plan.

Yogi Berra, famed New York Yankee catcher and major league manager is often quoted, “If you don’t know where you are going you are liable to end up someplace else,” and “When you come to a fork in the road . . . take it.” Many organizations have launched down the wrong path because they did not do their homework. If you ask the tough questions upfront you increase your chances for success by determining if your plan and timing is right to raise capital dollars.

Campaigns are successful when you have a clear vision, specific dollar needs, committed board, staff, and volunteers, a leader willing to raise money, and a sense of urgency. Don’t move forward until you have these key elements in place.

One more perspective on planning and identifying the best time to raise capital dollars comes from Sir John Harvey Jones (Sir indicates Mr. Jones has been knighted by the Queen of England). He made this profound statement on planning: “Planning is an unnatural process, it’s more fun to get on with it. The real benefit of not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise and is not preceded by months of worry.”


About the Author: Pat McLaughlin President/Founder – Pat started The Timothy Group in 1990 to serve Christian ministries as they raise money to advance their missions. TTG has assisted more 1,800 Christian organizations around the world with capital, annual, and endowment campaigns. More than 25,000 of Pat’s books, Major Donor Game Plan, The C Factor: The Common Cure for your Capital Campaign Conundrums, and Haggai & Friends have helped fundraisers understand the art and science of major donor engagement. Pat makes more than one hundred major donor visits annually and provides counsel to multiple capital campaigns.

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