Accountability During a Nonprofit Capital Campaign

The Nonprofit Leaders Guide for a Capital Campaign Volume 12: Accountability During a Nonprofit Capital Campaign

Nonprofit Capital Campaign Accountability

During the past year, I have used this series to explain some of the ins and outs of a capital campaign (too see the full series click here).  I will end this series, The Nonprofit Leaders Guide for a Capital Campaign by considering the element that should be stressed now and could have been included in every article – accountability.  If we look at the series:

Defining your Dream – Is there consensus and support for the proposed capital campaign? Accountability starts from the beginning with an understanding that it is not one person’s vision, but one shared by the nonprofit’s beneficiaries, community, and financial supporters. Now is the perfect time to assess who you should be accountable to at each step.

How to Determine Capital Campaign Goals – Financial decisions made on behalf of the nonprofit inherently have the burden of being questioned at every step. At MJA, we may estimate that there is more or less potential in a community than you originally believed. Regardless, you must be willing to explain your decision about the goal to each and every prospective donor if you hope to succeed.

Capital Campaign Staff, Architects and Consultants – Choosing vendors to help the process will require approval from the board and/or current staff.  They will expect that you interview more than one prospective architect and that you explain why you chose X instead of Y.  And, while you may have an idea of who you want to work with from the beginning, this level of accountability ensures that everyone feels the same way about your choices.

The Feasibility Study Some nonprofits planning a capital campaign wonder if a feasibility study is necessary.  You can “think” that the community supports your campaign and you can “know” what the community supports. Are you willing to take the chance when you don’t have to?  Are your supporters willing to take that risk with their time and money? Their risk-averse perspective will keep you accountable to the community.

Feasibility Study Results – Accountability in a feasibility study should also be obvious when presenting the results.  The staff, volunteer leadership and interviewees will all want to know that you completed the study and understand the findings. This is especially true if the project will move forward and they will be asked for financial support.

Capital Campaign Marketing Materials – You are finally writing down your vision, ready to share it with prospects and donors alike. While that often feels like an exciting landmark, it also leaves the investors with a piece that they can review and examine again and again.  Make sure it stands up to any and all scrutiny.

Who Will Make The Asks? Choosing solicitors translates into picking people who will be accountable to the campaign, the committee, the staff and the donors.  If they are not the right people to represent your nonprofit, consider finding other roles that will allow them to help the campaign while not affecting its outcome.

Who To Solicit First For Your Capital Campaign – Choosing the order of solicitations is about those closest to the campaign who are expected to give meaningful gifts.  However, if you are not receiving the gifts you thought you should from this inner circle, consider the reasons.  If there is not a culture of giving, that can mean that these individuals do not feel accountable to the nonprofit and its vision, at least not financially.  And, if that is the case, should this group be the ones responsible for this momentous task?  If they don’t feel the need to offer a “stretch” gift, why would anyone else?

Identifying the Second Round of Capital Campaign Prospects – The development committee is responsible for identifying and soliciting as well as choosing the next circle of prospects.  Some boards check to see how the order is being determined, others trust the committee in this task.  Either way, there should be answers to the questions – “why this person?” and “is this the right time for this person?”

Maintaining Capital Campaign Momentum – Momentum is difficult as a capital campaign continues, but the essence of being a part of a capital campaign development committee means that you are responsible for continuing the process for the long haul.  Extenuating circumstances aside, anyone who agrees to be a part of a capital campaign should know that it will take months and possibly years from start to finish. And that they are accountable to the committee and the community throughout the process and beyond.

If you would like Mersky, Jaffe & Associates to help you with your next capital campaign, email Abigail Harmon and we can talk about how to get you started.