As nonprofit organizations consider initiating a capital or advancement campaign, they need to examine several areas of the organization to help assess their readiness to begin a major fundraising effort.  Smart organizations check off the boxes on a “readiness checklist” that helps to tell them if they’re adequately prepared for the task ahead.  The checklist usually includes items like these:

  • Leadership Congruence (unanimous Board support)
  •  History/Longevity in the Community
  • Recognized/Respected Brand in the Community
  • Influential and Respected Board
  • Compelling Case for Support
  • Lead Gift (at least 10% to 15% of the campaign goal)
  • Broadly Expressed Donor Support (typically determined by a feasibility study
  • Competent/Passionate Chair Candidate
  • Organized/Respected/Dependable/Professional Staff
  • Achievable Goal (typically determined by a feasibility study)
  • Adequately Addressed Community Concerns/Questions (from the feasibility study)
  • Organizational Fundraising Experience (preferably campaign experience)
  • Community Economic Conditions Favorable
  • Willingness to Follow Proven Fundraising Strategies for Campaigns

I usually look for at least ten “checks” on this list.  In other words, an organization doesn’t have to meet all fourteen of the readiness parameters listed above, but typically they need to meet two-thirds of the parameters on the list to have a shot at a successful campaign.

The key to discovering the answers to several of these key questions is to consider conducting a philanthropic feasibility study.  This process tests your campaign concept with your donor base and the broader community and is a great first step in considering the eventual launch of a campaign.