How to Run a Nonprofit Capital Campaign + Examples

How to Run a Capital Campaign

Nonprofit capital campaigns are important because they secure funding for the nonprofit organization and help to increase awareness of the nonprofit and its work. In this article, we will discuss what a capital campaign is and show you how to design a successful campaign.


What Is a Capital Campaign?

A nonprofit capital campaign is a fundraising drive to collect donations for a specific project or purpose. The money collected during the campaign is used to finance the nonprofit organization’s capital expenses; such as building renovations, new construction, or the purchase of new equipment. Therefore, these campaigns are not used to fund the nonprofit’s operating expenses, such as salaries or marketing costs.

The most common type of nonprofits to use capital campaigning are hospitals, schools, and religious organizations. However, any nonprofit organization can launch a capital campaign if there is a specific project or purpose that requires additional funding.


What Are The Four Phases of Capital Campaigning?

All capital campaigns are different, but they typically follow the same four phases. These phases are planning, quiet phase, kick-off, and public phase.

Phase 1: Planning

The planning phase is the most important phase of the campaign because it sets the foundation for the entire fundraising effort. During this phase, you will develop your campaign strategy, set your fundraising goals, and identify your donor base. In addition, exploring creative nonprofit fundraising ideas and developing engaging campaign materials, such as a compelling case for support and an attractive donor brochure, can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your fundraising campaign.

Phase 2: Quiet Phase

The quiet phase is the second phase of the capital campaign. During this phase, you will solicit donations from your major donors. These donors are usually individuals or businesses who have a history of supporting the nonprofit organization.

Phase 3: Kick-Off

The kick-off is the third phase of the campaign and it is when the campaign is publicly launched. During this phase, you will host a campaign kickoff event to announce the campaign to your donors and the community. You will also begin soliciting donations from the general public.

Phase 4: Public Phase

The public phase is the final phase of the campaign and during this time, you’ll continue to solicit donations from the general public. This phase can last for several months or even years, depending on the fundraising goals of the campaign.


How to Run a Successful Capital Campaign

Running a capital campaign is a lot of work, but it is possible to run a successful campaign if you follow these tips.

Assemble a Team

The first step to running a successful capital campaign is to assemble a team of dedicated individuals. This team should include your organizational staff, board members, volunteers, and major donors. The team should be responsible for developing the campaign strategy, setting fundraising goals, and creating campaign materials.

Know Your Budget

It is important to know how much money you will need to finance the nonprofit organization’s capital expenses. This information will help you set realistic fundraising goals for the campaign. It is also important to have a contingency fund in case the campaign does not raise as much money as anticipated.

Have Clear Goals, Objectives, and Timelines

Your organization should have clear goals for the campaign. These goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. You should also have objectives for each phase of the campaign. For example, your objective for the quiet phase might be to solicit donations privately from prospective major donors. Your objective for the public phase might be to solicit donations from the general public via billboard rentals.

Develop a Marketing and Communications Plan

It is important to develop a marketing and communications plan for the campaign. This plan should include strategies for promoting the campaign to potential donors. It should also include a process for thanking donors who make contributions to the campaign.

Get Approval From the Board of Directors

The board of directors should approve the capital campaign before it is launched. The board should also review the campaign periodically to ensure that it is on track to meet its fundraising goals.

Contact Your Donor Base

Once you have developed your campaign strategy and set your fundraising goals, you will need to contact your donor base. You can do this by sending out a direct mail campaign, making phone calls, or sending emails.


Examples of Successful Capital Campaigns 

If you want to check out some capital campaigns that were successful, here are some examples:

-St Jude’s Research Hospital raised 200M during its Inspiration4 campaign.

-Atrium Health raised 500M during its Giving Hope campaign.

-Habitat for Humanity International has raised over 3M in a current campaign, Homes, Community, Hope + You.



As you can see, nonprofit organizations have been able to raise a lot of money through capital campaigns. If you are thinking about launching a capital campaign for your nonprofit organization, use these tips to make sure that it is successful.