Capital Campaign

Learn about the anatomy of a capital campaign, and critical strategies for a successful nonprofit capital campaign!
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Capital Campaign

Running a successful nonprofit capital campaign is a monumental undertaking that requires precision, planning, and above all, a comprehensive understanding of the process.

What is a capital campaign?

A capital campaign is a time-limited effort by a nonprofit or a charity to raise significant funds for a specific project, usually involving the acquisition, construction, or renovation of a physical asset.

Typically, these campaigns involve raising substantial sums of money, far beyond what would be expected through regular annual fundraising efforts.

The anatomy of a capital campaign

Nonprofit Capital Campaign

Let's examine these phases in depth:

Feasibility study

This phase is a preliminary evaluation to determine the practicality of your capital campaign.

This involves assessing your nonprofit's fundraising capacity, potential donor interest, and the overall economic climate.

Pre-campaign planning

The pre-campaign planning phase is all about developing a campaign plan, setting up the campaign committee, and identifying prospective donors.

Your campaign's success largely depends on the groundwork laid in this phase.

Quiet phase

The quiet phase, also known as the major gifts phase, primarily targets large-scale donors.

Nonprofits often raise as much as 50-70% of the total campaign goal during this phase.

This phase remains confidential until a significant portion of the funds are raised.

Public phase

The public phase is when the campaign is announced to the general public, and all constituents are invited to contribute.

This phase is instrumental in building momentum and rallying community support for the campaign cause.

Post-campaign activities

These activities involve acknowledging donor contributions, providing project updates, and maintaining relationships with donors for future giving opportunities.

Effective stewardship can lead to sustained donor engagement.

Critical strategies for a successful nonprofit capital campaign

Crafting a compelling case for support

A well-articulated case for support is an indispensable part of any capital campaign.

It highlights the 'why' behind your fundraising efforts, showcases the impact of potential donations, and motivates donors to participate actively in your cause.

Building a robust campaign committee

Assembling a group of dedicated, influential, and connected individuals can significantly contribute to your campaign's success.

A campaign committee should ideally comprise board members, volunteers, and community leaders passionate about your mission.

Effective donor cultivation and stewardship

Identifying potential donors, understanding their giving patterns, and cultivating relationships with them are crucial.

Post-campaign, it's equally important to steward these donors and keep them connected to your organization.

Monitoring and evaluating your nonprofit capital campaign

Conducting regular assessments throughout the campaign can provide valuable insights into your strategies' effectiveness, enabling you to make necessary adjustments for optimal success.

Post-campaign evaluations can offer lessons for future campaigns.


Capital campaigns are an essential tool for nonprofits seeking to make significant changes through their missions.

By understanding each phase of a capital campaign and implementing strategic planning and effective donor engagement, nonprofits can successfully reach their campaign goals and make a lasting impact.

This glossary entry provides a detailed exploration of nonprofit capital campaigns.

However, every campaign is unique and may require customized strategies based on individual organization's needs.

With the right preparation and execution, capital campaigns can provide a transformative opportunity for your nonprofit to accomplish its mission and positively impact the community.

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