DickersonBakker Blog

[VIDEO] Don’t Miss a Zero in Your Donor’s Capital Campaign Gift

This is your exclusive sneak peek of the all-new Dickerson, Bakker & Associates capital campaign vlog series.

About the series:  Launching in January 2019, this vlog series will feature Senior Vice President, Brent Hafele, M.A. and his take on the real-world problems, questions and solutions that he faces day-to-day while navigating nonprofit organizations thru the ever-changing capital campaign landscape. 


Si Seymour, one of the godfathers of professional fundraising once said, “You can’t make a pickle by squirting it with vinegar. You gotta let it soak for a little while.

“It can be tempting sometimes to jump early, to move fast and to get out there. Especially when you’ve worked so hard on a capital campaign to get it moving. But sometimes you need to wait and you need to let the process breathe.

I had this recently happen to me in a capital campaign that we’re just starting. And the client came to me and said, “I want to go ask this donor for a million dollars.”

And truth be told this donor has the capacity to give a $10 million gift. And properly cultivated we expect this donor to do that.

But in haste it would be very easy for this client to come out and ask for that million dollars and the donor to think, “That was my gift.”

So my advice to him was, “Don’t miss a zero in your haste.” Instead I gave him this advice to, first of all, emphasize that this is an initial investment. So, as your speaking with this potential donor say, “This is an early investment. This is a way that you can participate in this campaign to jump start it and get the campaign going.” Basically indicating that you’re going to come back for another gift.

Another approach would be simply to wait on that donor and ask a different donor to raise that initial start up money and get started.

What you don’t want to do though is ask fast and push the process and leave a zero on the table.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you run a succeed in your next capital campaign.

Don’t miss our upcoming season on Capital Campaigns launching in January 2019. Sign up for our newsletter at the top of this page to receive new episode alerts, articles, insights and advice, straight to your inbox.

Back to blog