How to Begin a Council Capital Campaign
A capital campaign is a complicated and delicate process that calls for a solid strategic plan as a foundation, a compelling need for support, committed leadership, a hard-working corps of volunteers, and competent campaign direction.
The Planning Stages
More than 70 percent of a successful capital campaign is planning, research, and cultivation. If your council has not yet created a strategic plan and is considering or conducting a campaign, the process of getting to the public kickoff can take two years. Even with an up-to-date strategic plan, pre-campaign planning, conducting a feasibility study, recruiting campaign leaders, and planning your marketing effort can take more than a year.
Strategic Planning for a Capital Campaign
- “Do we need to carry out a capital fundraising campaign at this time?” The executive board and Scout executive should look to the council’s strategic plan for answers.
- The strategic planning process will include a representative range of community leadership, an agreement as to the council’s need and timing, establish how it will be measured, and develop a priority order time line for the accomplishment of work. Your plan must include population trends and demographic changes for your geographic territory.
- Involving a broad spectrum of quality volunteers in this process will benefit the council in a number of ways; most important, key decision-makers in the community will grow to understand Scouting and its place in the community more fully.
How to Create a Strategic Plan
Time required … 7-12 months
Annual update to existing plan … 2-3 months
The Boy Scouts of America publication Local Council Strategic Planning—Benchmarks for Success, No. 14-985B, will be a helpful tool in determining if your council’s strategic plan is in tune with current BSA benchmarks.
Determining Critical Capital Needs
- The next step in moving toward a capital campaign is to determine what it is you plan to accomplish. The executive board and Scout executive must prioritize the proposed program; financial, facility, personnel, and special project needs; and plans identified in the strategic planning process.
- Written pre-campaign materials, often referred to as the “case statement,” must be prepared with the donor in mind. You must explain the size, scope, and critical need for the project.
Conducting a Feasibility Study
The feasibility study provides objective and candid feedback from the general community and key Boy Scout supporters concerning your local council, reactions to the proposed case you have developed, and their assessment of conducting a successful capital campaign. Properly conducted, the feasibility study will also assist you in identifying possible leadership for the campaign and additional potential major donors. Conducting some interviews with community leaders who are not currently active with the council will also help in cultivating or establishing relationships with the individuals, businesses, and foundations.
Do We Need to Conduct a Feasibility Study?
The short answer is “yes.”
A pre-campaign assessment questionnaire (see enclosure) will reveal your proposed program’s chances for success, based upon the strengths of the council and its case for support, and will provide objective, professional insight into how best to build upon those strengths and overcome any weaknesses.
Completing the Statement of Need
The council is charged with setting the preliminary objectives required for a successful campaign.
Who Should Conduct the Study?
Hiring fundraising counsel is not an inexpensive proposition. Defining your preliminary case statement, conducting 50 or more one-on-one interviews, analyzing the findings, preparing recommendations, and presenting a report can cost between $15,000 and $40,000. However, it will be more objective than a self-study, and some possible donors to the campaign may require such objectivity before making a large gift. This alone may offset the cost of the study.
Retaining Fundraising Counsel for the Study
Selecting counsel to conduct a pre-campaign feasibility study is a critical step in your process. The consulting firm you choose will determine the value and usefulness of the study report you receive. Among the qualified firms you consider, you must select the one with which you feel the most comfortable.
Your first step in selecting a consulting firm is letting firms know your council is seeking assistance for a fundraising project. While a list of some of the national firms with Boy Scout experience is in this brochure, it is not a complete list. There are also local and regional consulting firms you may wish to consider.
Conducting a Self-Study
If the council determines to conduct its own pre-campaign feasibility self-study, you will find it helpful to refer to the Resources section and the Feasibility Study Guide document on page 25 in the Funding Capital Needs Booklet, No. 35-979. It includes advice for selecting constituents to be interviewed, advice on conducting the interviews and preparing the findings, and a sample study interview questionnaire.
Determine What Support You Require for Staffing the Campaign
A small group of key volunteer leaders and senior staff should meet to assess the council’s ability to implement the campaign.
Consulting fees will vary. As an example, you can expect to spend about $75,000 in fees for six days of consulting assistance per month for a year. Depending on the number of days of consulting assistance you require, a council should plan to spend between 6 percent and 9 percent of the campaign goal for all fundraising costs using this option.
Carrying Out a Campaign
Following the feasibility study, there are eight important areas of planning for a capital campaign that will require attention.
- Communications/public relations
- Announcing the campaign