Successful Capital Campaigns Help Create Community

Successful capital campaigns not only raise money…but also help create community

David A. Mersky imageFor generations, Jewish life was experienced through congregational affiliation and community center participation. In post-World War II America, membership in a church or synagogue was expected—an American value and obligation.

Now, membership is optional. And the reason? In part, because fewer and fewer people seek the relationships that community affiliation and membership provide.

A well-run capital campaign, when properly applied, creates a different dynamic among your constituents. If you have been following this series, you will remember that I explained how a capital campaign can help with annual fund donor acquisition and retention, marketing and communication, financial management, planned giving, major gifts management, long-range planning, volunteer leadership, and nonprofit leadership development. Here is the case that successful capital campaigns help create community. Your organization is not simply sending a bill, which says to the person you are just one of our organization’s accounts receivable. Instead, you are working to shift the culture in your organization and create a community of donors and funders who feel a real sense of ownership—a stake in the furtherance of your mission, vision and values. A community of donors who did not necessarily know each other before the parlor meetings or donor events.

Nonprofits have to treat each donation as a gift – not an expectation. A donation—regardless of the size or the means of transmittal—cannot be answered by a form letter. Rather, in addition to a highly personalized acknowledgement—one of at least seven different types of recognition—each contribution should tip a systematic process of stewardship and research to determine if the donor might, at one time, become a major donor. More work? Yes. Better results? Definitely.
Moreover, in the stewardship process there are many opportunities to engage with the donor and connect him or her with others so that you create a community of those stakeholders who care ever more deeply about the organization. Every time a board member calls someone they do not know to thank him or her for a gift, they are opening the door to a more in-depth conversation at the next program they both attend.

Treating your organization’s donors as valued funders, will increase your revenue while enhancing the sense of community for all. And, then, \rather than saying, “but for me, this would not have happened,” at that “kumbaya” moment, everyone will stand in a circle and say, “Look at what we have accomplished together.” Is there anything better than that?


This last article in the series of “Successful capital campaigns not only raise money but also help…”

To read the rest of the series, click here.