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How to Plan and Run a Capital Appeal

How to Plan and Run a Capital Appeal

If you are thinking about launching a capital campaign, there are a number of key factors to consider as you plan your next steps.

1. The Case for Support

You need to think about your Case for Support. Is the vision compelling and the need clearly stated with tangible outcomes and outputs? Talk it through both within your team but also test it out with trustees and other supporters involved with your organisation. Even in the early planning stages it's good to be thinking about the vision for your project in a wider context and how arguments can be framed with a different focus be it heritage, the arts, a community asset, accessibility, regeneration, the environment or health, so that new funding possibilities can be leveraged.

2. Lead Gifts

Secondly, it's important to identify where your lead gift will come from and have a broad understanding of the overall funding matrix for your project. You should carry out initial research which will give you evidence of the potential income streams to support your fundraising targets. However, in order to reduce risk and to give confidence to your Board and stakeholders, it is worth commissioning a Feasibility Study so that an impartial assessment can be given of your organisation's ability to run a successful capital appeal.

Our infographic below provides a quick overview of the process when commissioning a feasibility study.

Feasibility study infographic

3. Timescales

A third point to consider is your timeline for delivery of your capital appeal alongside the physical works. If you have identified public sector funders as well as some major trusts, you will need to align your application submissions to the various RIBA design stages of your capital project. Major funders such as National Lottery Heritage Fund, Creative Scotland and Arts Council England generally structure their funding frameworks in two stages and often require a specific level of match funding to be in place before projects are given the green light.

4. Organisational Experience

As part of your initial campaign planning you should look at the history of fundraising activities in your organisation, the strengths and expertise within your team and the resources you will need to deliver your capital appeal. Do you have you a strong track record across a number of income streams - trusts and foundations, corporates, individual giving, events - and if not consider whether you expand your in-house team or invest in consultant expertise. Building relationships with major donors, corporates and sponsors is a long process and the more you can build on established networks and relationships, often through senior volunteers and trustees, the better.

5. Date and Compliance

A public campaign is usually a later component of a capital appeal and again you should make sure your database is in good shape and up to date, particularly in terms of GDPR. It's essential that your Development and Marketing Teams work together to plan your public campaign so that messaging is consistent, well thought through and balances your capital communications with the charity's day to day business.

6. Appeal Readiness

Importantly, you need to consider if your charity has the capacity, energy and determination to deliver a successful appeal and if your Board and senior executives are ready for the challenge. You will need to think about who will lead the appeal, who will manage key stakeholder relationships, and who will be the public face of the appeal. Can these roles be managed on top of the "day job" or do you need to look at backfilling duties? Likewise, your Board is key in leading the campaign. Their networks and ability to be passionate advocates for the appeal are crucial. Think about who will lead the appeal from the Board and whether setting up a Capital Appeal Board with wider membership is the best way to manage time and commitment.

7. Long-Term benefits

A capital campaign is an amazing opportunity to introduce your charity to new funders, supporters and individuals. It creates new partnerships and ways of working and can bring about a culture change within an organisation. Managed well, nurturing these relationships beyond the capital appeal can result in new sustainable income streams for the future.

8. Free Chat

If you are thinking of launching a capital appeal or are already running one and have some questions, do call us on 01785 663600 for a free chat.


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