I hear too many people worry about being in the dark about capital fundraising…

  • Trustees unsure how to make a decision based on facts as to whether they are prudent to go ahead or not.

“Of course what you do is a dark art and therefore impossible for us to understand” isn’t an exact quote but is similar to something I hear all too often (I was, in fact, once called a Professor of the Dark Arts!)

  • SMT and CEO unsure how to tell if the campaign is on track in the early stages, the middle stages… right up to the end of the appeal in fact!
  • And fundraisers  unsure of these answers too – otherwise they would be able to reassure their senior teams and volunteers, no?!

Rather than stumbling along in the dark or, worse, not moving forward at all, what are the key factors that will shine a light on your path and maybe even give you a map for the journey?


These key success factors work in different ways along your capital appeal journey. They are

  • the key indicators that an appeal is feasible, that you could raise the necessary fundraising income to build/buy/renovate.
  • the key indicators that an appeal is on track in the early stages (before the money comes in)
  • the key areas of responsibility and focus during those early stages – they help focus the efforts of a broad team – often including fundraising, communications, SMT, steering group, Appeal Board, trustees – in the right areas.

Capital appeal fundraising can feel like the scariest of all fundraising – upfront commitments not only in fundraising but across an organisation; raising of hopes and expectations earlier than is desirable; long periods of planning and preparation time before any results are seen; the speculative nature of fundraising… Really scary. Shine a light on your capital plans with these six factors for success.

A positive image

It is important that your organisation enjoys a positive image within its key constituencies. It should be seen as special.

A strong and compelling proposition for supporting this appeal

The campaign must have a clear demonstrable need, which appeals to the interests and desires of prospective donors. It must also create a strong internal consensus in support of this need with all of your members and visitors.

A logical plan to meet the need

Both the need and the plan to meet the need (the plans for the new building, its location etc.) must be acceptable to your stakeholders and potential supporters.

A sense of urgency

There must be a consensus that meeting the need is vital to your organisation. If a sense of urgency does not exist, it must be generated in the earliest stages of the appeal. This urgency must include the need to raise additional funds.

Sufficient sources of financial support

There must be adequate financial resources within the potential audiences that would support your organisation to meet the need.

Although the “giving pyramid” required for successful capital campaigns does vary from instance to instance, experience shows that success is based on an ability to secure the following levels of giving:

Top Investment                                12-18% of goal

Top Ten Investments                       50-55% of goal

Next 50-100 Investments                40-50% of goal

Enthusiastic trustees and a strong trustee board

The nucleus of any appeal is the group which authorises the programme. The trustees must be dedicated to the campaign and willing to support it generously with time and energy.

Influential appeal leadership

The appeal must have access to people who can influence and motivate others at the highest levels. An adequate pool of dedicated volunteer appeal leaders is one of the most critical factors required for a successful capital campaign.

Take our questionnaire to check if you’re ready for capital appeal fundraising and how healthy your programme is right now

Kick start your capital appeal with confidence by engaging us to assess the probability of success and then setting out a plan to achieve that success

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