Defining Success in Your School Capital Campaign

When you need to raise money for a new facility, equipment or supplies, your school district or education foundation may opt to embark on a capital campaign. It's critically important to define success from the start, creating clear benchmarks and outlining a strategy that will allow you to reach your fundraising goals.

By keeping a few key concepts top of mind, you can plan your capital campaign effectively and make strategic changes to your approach as you move along. Consider the following as you get started:

  • Set tangible goals: There’s no way for you to measure the success of your campaign if you don’t have clearly defined objectives. Carefully consider your fundraising track record to help you determine reasonable goals. Goals do not just represent a great metric to help you define the success of your school campaign—they are also a great way to motivate your team to stay on track.

  • Identify prospects: You must identify lead prospects for your campaign to establish whether you have sufficient support to reach your goals. Identify and secure several prospects who will make sizeable donations at the front end. This will indicate to other, smaller donors that your campaign is worth the investment.
  • Create compelling messages: It’s not enough to just ask for donations—you have to make a case for support that engages potential donors on an emotional level. Use your education foundation or district's narrative to create a compelling campaign that incorporates testimonials from students, teachers, parents and alumni who have something to say about the positive impact the project in question would have.
  • Conduct a feasibility study: Prior to launching a fundraising campaign, conduct a feasibility study to assess whether you will have the support of the community. This can be done by someone at your district, foundation, or an external consultant, but it should include at least 30 or 40 community members to help you determine whether you'll get the support you need from donors.
  • Allocate resources wisely: You may need a significant amount of resources to orchestrate a successful capital campaign. Make sure you have the technological infrastructure and staff time necessary to facilitate your fundraising campaign. Work with the various departments in your district—including IT and public relations—to ensure that everyone is prepared to spend time on the campaign.
  • Create a unified effort: You cannot expect a capital campaign to run itself after launch. You'll need a designated team of volunteers to oversee every aspect and keep things on track for the duration of your fundraising effort. This team should convene regularly to evaluate the campaign and determine whether any adjustments are necessary.

A successful capital campaign requires a great deal of coordination and consideration, but the results are well worth the time and effort. By investing resources upfront into your campaign, you can improve the quality of the results and reach your goals—to the ultimate benefit of your students.