DickersonBakker Blog

8 Actions CFOs Can Take to Propel A Capital Campaign

Recently a nonprofit CFO asked me how she could support her organization’s capital campaign.  Regardless of your title—CFO, COO, VP of Finance and Administration, Director of Accounting, Bookkeeper—financial professionals can make a big difference in their organization’s capital campaign. Here is the advice I shared with that CFO:

  1. Pray – At the end of the day, the Lord “owns the cattle on a thousand hills,” the hills, and the space above the hills.  We can bring the best fundraising practices in every way, but if the Lord doesn’t bless our efforts, we are dead in the water.  Thus, pray for God’s favor in this project.  Pray for appropriate boldness to invite donors to participate in this important mission.  Pray also that the right leaders and donors would be revealed to the steering committee.  Finally, pray that all who participate in this project–staff, board members, steering committee members, donors–would be blessed for their participation and obedience.
  2. Protect [Your Organization’s] Integrity – I know protecting the financial integrity of [your organization] is core to your role.  Keep at it!  The books need to be clean and processes need to be clear to maintain donor confidence.  BTW, it is a great idea to keep campaign funds and project expenses in separate accounts from operations to ensure transparency.
  3. Be Prepared – It is not unusual for foundations and donors to request to review the financials of the project and/or organization.  Be prepared for this and be prepared to meet with those foundations/donors to answer their questions.  
  4. Track – Help the development team track pledges and revenue, if possible, in real-time.
  5. Process Gifts Quickly – Ensuring quick gift processing and perhaps even expediting major gifts so the major gift team can quickly thank donors is critical. Just like buyer’s remorse, donor remorse is a real thing. You can help prevent that ensuring donors feel great.
  6. Prepare for Financing – Most donors will fulfill their gift over a 3-5 year pledge period.  Unless [your organization] is going to wait 5-7 years before all the money is in, a bridge loan will be necessary to cover the outstanding pledge balance. Identifying a friendly bank to extend favorable bridge loan terms helps all involved.
  7. Open the Door – Everyone is a fundraiser at the best nonprofits, but that doesn’t mean you have to ask.  Making introductions to people in your network who may be prospective donors is a big way to support the campaign. Your development team can help you identify who is a good prospect and how to comfortably make an introduction to them.
  8. Speak Up – As they say at the airport, “if you see something, say something.”  God gave you wisdom and put you in this position for such a time as this.  Don’t let your limited background in capital campaigns prevent you from speaking up with concerns and/or asking questions.

Gearing up for a campaign?  The most successful capital campaigns start with preparation well in advance of their launch. Reach out to DickersonBakker today to learn more about how to ensure your organization is ready to reach your ambitious campaign goal.

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