I’ve seen nonprofits run a capital campaign marathon like they were running a 5K, only to burn out one-third of the way in.
The difference between a 5K and a marathon comes down to pacing. In a 5K, a runner wants to run the first few miles faster than their “goal pace.” This cuts down their total time. In a marathon, it’s the complete opposite. A runner actually wants to take the first few miles slower than their goal pace, because it increases their endurance.
In a capital campaign what you really need is a marathon pace. The 5K approach is going public right away with your campaign. Once you put that goal out there, the “countdown clock” starts in your donors’ minds. You only have so much time to meet the goal, and if progress gets stuck at 20%, donors will lose enthusiasm.
The marathon approach is starting your campaign with what is called the “Quiet Phase.” You begin quietly fundraising for leadership gifts and closely-held gifts (board members, staff, and key volunteers). The Quiet Phase is also a time to plan for the Public Phase.
When you have 60-80% of your goal fundraised through the Quiet Phase of your capital campaign, then it’s time to go public. Like the last few miles of a marathon, it’s easy for donors to sprint to your goal when the end is in sight. Plus, the public will be impressed by how much you’ve already raised.
So, when you start planning for a capital campaign, make sure to treat it like a marathon, not a 5K. It’s all about pacing, and I want to make sure you have the right pace.
Don’t use 5K strategies on your capital campaign marathon. We can coach your campaign to success with practical counsel that gets the job done. Contact us today >>