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How do you set a capital campaign goal?

Let’s assume you already have a clear vision for a capital campaign and a sense of the cost to achieve that vision. For example, you want to build a new wing at your museum or hospital, and you believe it will cost $30 million. Understanding your goal is key, of course—but is it just a dream or can it become a reality? How do you answer that critical question?

Here’s our proven process to help you learn if the resources you need to achieve your vision can be found in your community. 

Conduct primary research.

This includes interviews, focus groups, and surveys done with your top donors. These interviews provide critical information, including perceptions of the organization, reactions to the case and goal, and leadership potential. But, most importantly, these interviews uncover potential donation amounts or ranges. Especially when speaking to a neutral third-party, like a consultant, interviewees will frankly share where your campaign ranks in their charitable priorities and how much they may give. By aggregating these responses, you can frame out the top tiers of donors for the campaign.

Analyze past giving.

You’re unlikely to be able to interview all your donors, given cost and time constraints. So, past giving history is another source of information about future fundraising potential. Doing this correctly is very important. Benefactor Group uses a time-tested analysis of the giving behavior of an organization’s top donors to estimate a range of potential donations to a campaign. Our analysis factors in self-identified gifts, past donors, and potential donors.

Screen constituents and donors.

Often referred to as capacity and affinity scoring, this screening process helps identify the hidden gems among your supporters and brings out the full philanthropic potential of your database. This screening is informed by several inputs. For example, we evaluate the capacity of your donors using third-party tools and our own in-house scoring. We’ll help you better understand your prospective campaign donors by providing key indicators of capacity (e.g., real estate holdings, compensation, board membership, foundation assets, and public holdings) and of their propensity (e.g., gifts to other nonprofits).

Benefactor Group will analyze the results from these three steps, considering current fundraising trends and best practices, to help you set a realistic goal. Using donors’ past giving patterns as well as their suggested self-identified gifts, we will create a forecast model with multiple scenarios—aspirational, conservative, and most likely—to inform your ultimate campaign goal.

Accurate goal setting means you won’t leave money on the table by choosing a goal that’s too low. And you won’t exhaust your volunteers and erode trust in your organization by shooting for a goal that can’t be reached.

Once you know there is a pathway to success, you can lay out a step-by-step plan to meet your goal. Benefactor Group can help you develop a campaign plan that will take you through the phases of a campaign, from preparation to celebration. With hard work, your vision can be a reality. 

joined Benefactor Group with over ten years of experience in non-profit fundraising, operations, and management.

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