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If You Build It, They Will Come - A Petrus Development Show Episode on Capital Campaigns

Capital Campaigns:  A Primer

Welcome back to the Petrus Development Show as we continue our Q+A series with Petrus president, Andrew Robison.  Listen as Andrew and Rhen chat about all things capital campaigns.  This is an episode about campaign logistics, but it's also a message of encouragement for organizations who may be considering a capital campaign in the near future. 



Show Notes: 

The idea of a capital campaign can be a daunting one.  Capital campaigns require an organization's full attention for an extended period of time, and the campaign's monetary goal can seem an impossible task.  Good news!  Petrus can help.  Listen as Andrew and Rhen discuss the basics of what a capital campaign looks like and what organzations can to do begin preparing for a campaign.  


Specifically, Andrew answers the following questions: 

  • What is a capital campaign?  
  • Why choose a capital campaign over normal fundraising?  Will a capital campaign hurt our annual fund?
  • How does an organization determine the amount for their capital campaign?
  • What does the capital campaign process look like?
  • When is an organization ready for a capital campaign?  What can be done beforehand to prepare for a campaign?  


Listen to this episode and learn the answers to these questions and more!  As mentioned at the end of the episode, Petrus is offering free access to a virtual summit on capital campaigns.  If you're interested, click here to sign up!


Finally, we welcome your fundraising questions for potential use in future shows.  Are there questions you'd like to hear Andrew answer?  If so, email us at [email protected] with your question, and it just might appear in a future Petrus Development Show episode. 



00:13.00 aggierobison: Well, howdy everyone and welcome back to the Petrus Development Show. My name is Rhen Hoehn from Petrus Development, and joining me today is the big guy, Mr. Andrew Robinson, owner and president of Petrus. Hello, Andrew.

00:27.84 AROB: Howdy, Rhen. Doing all right? How about yourself? Ah, there you go. Ah, it's gotta be—I guess we're after spring, right? Or we're technically in spring now. Ah well, according to the...

00:29.53 aggierobison: Livin' the dream. It's all good.

00:37.65 aggierobison: Speak for yourself, man.

00:44.53 AROB: According to the seasons, according to the almanac, we're technically in spring, right? March 21 is the spring start date. Yes.

00:49.24 aggierobison: I guess that's true. I see nice green leaves behind you, and I know it's April, but it's us. It's literally a snowstorm outside my window right now.

00:59.90 AROB: Ah, yeah, it's not a snowstorm here. In fact, ah, my wife can attest to it being spring because the pollen always gets her, so she has, you know, winter and then she has Xertech season or Claritin season, whatever she's taken that year. And we went out the other day, and she—we went for a hike, and after 30 seconds in, she said, "Oh, I forgot to take my allergy medicine." And, well, sorry. So that's true. There's something to be said for that, yeah.

01:28.49 aggierobison: There's no pollen and no bugs when there's twelve inches of fresh snow outside, so I'll enjoy that. Oh, that's right, it's not really new. It's ah, it's a picture of the Centennial Mine, which is a copper mine just up the road from us.

01:36.20 AROB: Hey, you got a new picture on your wall, huh.

01:45.42 aggierobison: Yeah, I live in what's known as the Copper Country of Michigan, lots of copper mines around here. It's kind of ah, the artist did some kind of colorization to it. But it's one that hung in the microbrewery in town here all through my college years, and then when my wife and I got married, they—they bought it for us and gave it to us because everybody liked the picture, so it's kind of fun. Yeah, I like it.

01:58.65 AROB: Hey, that's pretty cool. Yeah, that's good. Yeah, good. Yes, no, that's fine. Yeah, it's great. So I love it. Yeah, let me. So...

02:04.91 aggierobison: Kind of a little taste of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan here, and you have a good—yeah, you have a picture hanging behind you that several people have asked me about. What is that picture there? If you're watching us on YouTube, you can see this live here.

02:17.72 AROB: You see, got the arm. Yeah, so that is the dome of St. Peter's in Rome. Another plug for another podcast of ours is Holy Donors. We did a season on George Strake, um, season 4 or season 5. His generosity and philanthropy led to the discovery of St. Peter's bones underneath this dome in St. Peter's in Rome. But this picture was from a friend of mine.

02:55.46 AROB: Let me see if I can get this right? My friend is David; David's father is Randy Doctor Light. Doctor Light and we've become friends over the years. He is a very gifted photographer and he has his... He's retired, and so now he spends a lot of time taking photographs of churches and wildlife. He's gotten really into astrophotography, so they go out to West Texas all the time for these star festivals and take pictures. But when I moved into this office, this picture was on the floor because it had been in the hall or in... He had sort of outfitted the entire office. So I asked the previous owner, "Are you gonna take that picture?" and he said, "No, I've got more of Dr. Light's pictures in my new office." And I talked to Light, and he said, "Do you want this back?" and he said, "No, I've got plenty of pictures. Keep it." So I was the beneficiary of his generosity and his skill. Yes, so that is the dome of St. Peter's in Rome. And I don't know if you can see over here... Oh gosh, it's in the way.

03:48.79 aggierobison: That is excellent.

03:54.15 AROB: Ah, can you see that little picture there? Yeah, sorry, yeah, that is the Texas bluebonnet, and that is a watercolor by another member of the church, St. Mary's at Texas A&M.

03:58.17 aggierobison: Oh yeah, it's a little bit of glare. But that's all right? Um, flower.

04:10.91 AROB: Ah, she was a gifted artist in a different way. She did watercolors and she did um a number of watercolors, and this is a print of her Texas bluebonnet. So I've got 2 of the geographic loves of my life: I've got a picture of Colorado or Wyoming somewhere in here, the mountains, but I've got Rome, and I've got Texas, so you know I'm in good company. Yeah.

04:30.61 aggierobison: Love it. Excellent! Well, it's a beautiful church obviously in the photo. Well-known church. I want to talk about another beautiful church, and while we're on the topic, segue here. I want to talk about the beautiful new church at Oklahoma State University's Campus Ministry and St. John's. I know.

04:43.12 AROB: Yeah.

04:49.40 aggierobison: Five or six years ago, Father Kerry there realized they had some changes going on. They realized they needed a new church, and they called up Petrus and talked about doing a campaign to build a new church. Can you tell us a bit about that process?

05:01.25 AROB: Sure, so the present day, they just celebrated their one-year anniversary of the dedication of the new church. It's beautiful. It's in Stillwater, Oklahoma, a beautiful church, a beautiful student center. It's got a great tower; I believe it's now the tallest structure on campus, which is pretty cool. And, um, they pack it every Sunday for Mass. But you're right, backing up to 2019, they were in a very different position. There are two parishes in Stillwater: one was the "family" Parish St. Francis, and one was the student parish, which was St. John's. But there had been a lot of kind of mingling, commingling, and crossover, so Father Carrie and Father Brian got together and talked with the bishop, and they said we really need this to be a student parish. So they went through a very, um, not a difficult process, but an intentional process to transition all of the families that were attending and all the adults and non-students, some faculty, that were attending St. John's to actually transition over to St. Francis. Um, you know, it all worked out in the end, but as some of those transitions go, you know, there was a little bit of, you know, there was some, ah, consequences and some unintended consequences. But one of the intended consequences they were aware of is, well, these non-students are financially supporting St. John's, and so when they all move over to St. Francis, they're not going to be supporting us financially. And so they basically, in a very short window of time, lost almost all of their...

06:34.98 AROB: Funding, fundraising, and they really had to shift gears quickly. Matt Bon was the development director there, and Father Carrie Will Coolis, like you mentioned, they had to shift gears to a more university-style fundraising, raising money from the alumni, which they had not done previously. And so that was the phase that they were in when they reached out to us, and they said, you know, we need to build this. We need to build a new church; the church that we're in is old, it's too small, it's not serving the campus anymore, and can you help us? And so we were able to help them. It was a fun project. Father Carrie, if you've ever met him or, you know, you have to meet him, you can just follow him online on Instagram; he is, ah, he's a riot. He's a really great guy. He's got his own podcast, Pastors of Payne County, I think, and just a lot of life in him and a love for the church and a love for the students. And did I freeze? Oh, okay, so you were just really intentionally staring at me. Sorry, ah, so he and Matt Bond, um, there was it was a fun project to work on with, um. And so what we had to do with them was build their database, reconnect with alumni, build up their annual fund, go find major gift prospects for the campaign, ask for those gifts for the campaign, and then ultimately sort of go public and then backfill with.

08:02.20 AROB: A lot of guests from ah everybody that we could find, and so they ended up raising, gosh, twenty-seven plus million dollars; it was a successful campaign. And now their annual fund is going really well because they were able to have success in the campaign, reconnect with a lot of alumni, and so who are now continuing to support, so great. Project. Great success for them and really pleased to see the results of that.

08:20.58 aggierobison: Excellent.

08:28.97 aggierobison: It's a little sneak peek. Mr. Mapon'll be joining us in our next episode of the Petris Domain show, so stay tuned for that. But today we're talking about campaigns. I want to start just with that little story of a campaign that Petras has helped with and how that all went, and you can go check out online just the beautiful results of that church building.

08:33.75 AROB: Ah, vegan.

08:46.77 aggierobison: I worked on a campaign years ago and before I started it, my naive impression was that, oh, we're doing a campaign, we'll just start asking people for gifts to a specific project that gives us something easy to talk about with them, and it won't be much different than our day-to-day operations of fundraising, and I was wrong about that. There is a lot more to it than just asking for a specific project. So there is kind of a science to campaigns, a process to them just to get us started broadly speaking. What is a capital campaign and what is generally involved in one?

Here is the edited transcript with corrections for spelling and grammar:

Sure, so a capital campaign is raising a specific amount of money for a specific purpose within a specific time frame. So if you think about it, that's what we do every year, every month in fundraising. It might be project-based, but those are, um, a lot of times what we're doing is we're asking for unrestricted funds for the ministry, right? Or the other organization. Um, and so you might have, you know, a scholarship drive or you know, you might do something short, but when you are talking about a capital campaign, it's really a goal of a specific amount, right? Which is generally larger than what you're raising normally, for a specific project, which is a need, and in most cases, you want that need to be growth-focused or future-focused. And within a specific time frame, and the time frame, I think we're going to talk about it later, but usually, campaigns fall into like a six-month to an eighteen-month time window. I've seen them shorter, I've seen them longer, but that's generally speaking what a capital campaign is.

So why would you do a campaign compared to just asking for gifts toward a specific project over the course of your normal fundraising?

Yeah, so campaigns. Why you do it is because it's an exciting story to tell your donors and your prospective donors. So like I was saying, usually, the goal or the outcome of a capital campaign is growth-focused. And so, whenever I worked at the Texas A&M Foundation, we were doing a seven-year, we're doing a $2 billion capital campaign across the university, um, which is just an astronomical amount of money. Um, but it lasted 7 or 8 years, um, and but my boss at the time, he used to say a capital campaign is nothing but a really intense marketing effort. So capital campaigns, just by virtue of, you know, like you said, you announce everybody, we're doing a capital campaign, and all of a sudden, the checks show up, and the money comes in. That's not the way it works. It still requires the effort of raising money. It still requires a strategy, but the capital campaign itself gives you a message to tell your donors that you are growing. You are expanding. You're entering into new areas, you, whatever the goal of the campaign is, the desired outcome. It allows you to tell that story and to tell it to your existing audience and then also new audiences. So that's why you would do a capital campaign. Some organizations do it purely because they have a need, so you know, like at Oklahoma State, their church was too small.

Too old, and it wasn't serving the needs, and they needed a new church and student center, so that was their need. But we've also seen nonprofits that will do an endowment campaign, so that's a campaign specifically to raise money to begin or launch or grow their endowment, which is a future focus. We want to plan for the future; we want to plan for permanency. Um, you can do staffing, so you know, we were an organization with, you know, 4 full-time staff and 100 volunteers, and we recognize that in order to grow, we need to have 30 staff and 300 volunteers, and that's going to take a lot of capital. And so you might do a capital campaign to raise money to expand your staff in a dramatic way, so you can do. The goal of the campaign or the kind of what you're raising money for can change, but it really is an effort to tell your donors, "Hey, we are growing. We're doing more, and you can be part of making this a success."

Right? So most people, I think, when they first think of a capital campaign, they think of a building project, right? But it's not necessarily just that. It can go far beyond that.

Correct. Yeah, yeah. So you think of "capital" in the fundraising world. We think of capital as building, right? Like structures, like you're saying. In the for-profit world, when they're raising money, when you use the word "capital," that just basically means cash to use, an influx of cash to use for some startup or some expansion. And so why "capital" in the nonprofit world has kind of latched onto buildings and structures, I don't really know. It's probably just historical, but a capital campaign is really just, "We want to raise a lot of money so we can use it to invest in the future."

Here is the edited transcript with corrections for spelling and grammar:

Great. So you've thrown out some big numbers here. We've talked about a $25 million, $27 million campaign in Oklahoma State, a $2 billion campaign at Texas A&M. What, ah, what? How do you determine what a reasonable amount is for a capital campaign? Are there typical ranges? Ah, how do you even determine that for your organization?

Yeah, so it really starts with the need. Um, so you know, you talked about, you were part of a campaign when you were at Michigan Tech, and so the need there was you had some physical space needs, some renovations, some expansion. Um, you also had some endowment needs, right? You wanted to build for permanency. And in order to kind of look at the fundraising in a more holistic way, we also included your annual fund because you wanted to add some staff and wanted to fundraise for the annual fund and their operations in there. And so when you looked at all those needs, then that gave us an idea, a range of what that target fundraising goal is. We then went through a process to do a feasibility study. So, feasibility study, or we can talk about that now or later, or now, or yeah, great. Sure. So a feasibility study basically is a process that you go through to...

Yeah, yeah, let's dig into that.

...solicit feedback from your constituents. So your donors, your prospective donors about the project, about what feedback they would give for the project. Um, and to get a sense of who would support it if it moved forward and at what level they would support. So a feasibility study, usually the way that we do them at Petrie's, takes somewhere around four months. Some can be quicker, some can be longer, but we'll go out, we'll help create a case for support. So what is that and why would people support it, what are the needs, identify the list, do some prospect screening, and then actually do the interviews, anywhere from 60 to 100 interviews. And kind of, we've gone either side of that. Um, but really, we're looking for feedback from your prospects. And so one of my favorite stories that I tell all the time when I'm talking about a feasibility study is actually about your project, Ren. And it was, you know, when we were, sorry, when we were looking at, you know, here's all the needs that we could have, it was, you know, there was kind of a laundry list of physical needs within the building, and one of them was a new balcony. Do you remember this?

Yep, exactly.

One of the ideas that had been floated was there's a balcony, but we could extend the balcony about ten or fifteen feet. It would add about 10 or 15 seats, and it would cost around $100,000 just because of the structure and the design and the engineering, all that. And so when we would end the interviews and feasibility study interviews, I would, you know, sort of talk about all these things. And everybody would say, "I love this part, I love this part, love this part, but tell me about this balcony." And so I would tell them, and they were like, "Don't do the balcony, that's too much money. We don't like the way it's going to crowd the sanctuary." And so at the end of the study, when we're giving the report and the results to Father Ben, he said, "Everybody loves all these things, nobody likes a balcony," and he said, "Okay, but then we just won't do the balcony. We'll find other ways to get more seats in there." And so it really is a feedback process that, you know, people might not, with Father, had gone and asked those people, "What do you think about a balcony?" they might have all said, "Father, you're brilliant, I love it. Do it, go the balcony." And but given the sort of honest feedback, the chance to provide honest feedback to somebody that's not Father, they said, "Yeah, balcony is not a good idea." So...

Yeah, that neutral third party doing those interviews is key to getting honest results there.

Correct. So, ah, but when you added up everything that was on that list, including the balcony, I think we tested a $5 million goal. And after the study, after the feasibility study, we realized $5 million is a little bit of a reach.


I think we could do more in the two and a half to $3 million range, I believe, as the results that we had, the sum, right?

Yep, right in there, yep.

And so then, what Father and the building committee and the leadership council had to do is they said, "Alright, you know, if that's what we can raise, and within the time of our campaign, we need to scale back our fundraising goal, scale back what we would use that money for, something that's more realistic because we want to, we want to hit the goal." That's, that's, you know, kind of a high priority is to hit the goal, you want to show success. And so um, I don't remember, if was I, was I in Michigan or was it a text group thread that somehow we were like, you know, "Three point three or three point one or three point two would be a really good number?" And ah, do you remember that, Rhen? Do you remember how it all kind of happened?

Here is the edited transcript with corrections for spelling and grammar:

Yeah, well, some background there, Michigan Tech is an all science and engineering school, so we were trying to find something that would speak to that group of people, right? Those alumni, exactly. And I think it was you that said, you know, we should just take the number pi, multiply it by a million, and we said...

Um, yeah, they're all, they're all really proud super nerds, right? Yes.

That is genius, no other options on the table now, that's what it's going to be. So the campaign ended up at 3.14159265 million because of that.

Ah, yeah, yeah.

That's awesome. Yeah, and that gave a fun story for Father to tell, you know, kind of help with the marketing, allowed people. You know, some people even made like really weird gift amounts, right? Based on that. Um, but that was how we came up with the goal for you. We said what are all the needs? And that adds up to this much, $5 million. We did a feasibility study process. We tested that, it came back with $5 million is a stretch, but we believe that two and a half to $3 million is a reasonable goal. And then sort of in the process of that, assigning a final goal total, we kind of had some fun in going with this pi number, but it fit just outside of the range but really close to. And so that's how we, that was how we set the goal for Michigan Tech. At Oklahoma State, we did a similar process. You know, they identified the needs, added up to the cost to do a building. We did a study, the study said here's how much you can raise. And they actually blew that number out, we were surprised they were able to get some big gifts from some people that we weren't expecting at the time, but we're really happy to get. And so that's how they ended up raising $27 million. Arkansas Campus Ministry, there was a similar project, similar type of project, identified the building needs, put in some staff upgrades, put in some endowment, and then did a study and then tested the goal and then set a final goal. So generally speaking, that's a good process to go through. Um, ah, and that's, you know, kind of how we run most campaigns.

Great. So you mentioned there's kind of a process, a typical process to campaigns, starts with the feasibility study usually for a successful campaign. You talk about the other steps in the process of a capital campaign?

Sure, so after a feasibility study, you kind of move into this preparation phase. And the preparation phase, for some groups, you know, depending on the results of the study, it can be a week, right? Or it can be, you know, um, "Hey, the study told us, you know, we need to change our goal dramatically. So we're going to, you know, shift plans, and it's going to take us some time to do that." But the preparation phase is kind of getting your messaging together, getting your case for support ready, start designing the timeline for the campaign. And you really kind of start diving into the strategy that you're going to go about to raise the money, so that's the preparation phase. Once the preparation phase, once you feel, "Yeah, we're ready. We know the story, we can start talking to donors," then you enter into what's, sorry, you enter into what's called the silent phase. Silent phase is really about securing your capital campaign committee and securing your leadership gifts. Your leadership gifts could be your top 15 donors, they could be your top 100 donors, but those are very targeted solicitations, very targeted invitations to give leadership level gifts to the capital campaign. And so you're not putting it on your website, you're not talking about it publicly, but you're kind of identifying people that have a high capacity and a high inclination to support, and you go and you ask them for a gift. So that'd be the silent phase. Um, during the silent phase, you're also doing things like...

If you're gonna do a campaign video, you're filming the video. If you're gonna do a campaign website, you're kind of getting the website ready. So there's a, there's a lot of prep work that happens in the silent phase.

Here is the edited transcript with corrections for spelling and grammar:

Okay, so I'll start that part over. So during the silent phase, you're also doing things like if you're going to have a campaign video, you're shooting the campaign video. If you're going to have a website, you're, ah, you're getting the website ready, the case for support, you're designing that. So you're putting some of those finishing touches on all the pieces of the capital campaign. Then you have a kickoff event where you go public. That's where everybody that has ever heard of your organization, or might ever hear of your organization, or might ever know somebody who knows somebody who might hear of your organization, should know that you're doing a capital campaign. So that's the public phase. It's very event-driven. Um, you use direct mail, you use website, you use online giving, um, and it's really about casting the net as wide as you can to engage as many people in supporting the capital campaign. That'd be the public phase. Ideally, at the end of the public phase, you've hit your goal, you celebrate, and then you enter into, across, ah, kind of a phase that I know other fundraising firms do this. I feel like this is something though that Petrie's really spends a lot of time and energy in focusing on because, um, because we believe in creating sustainable fundraising, and this is the last phase, which is your wrap up or your transition phase. So a good campaign is only successful if it does two things: if it raises the amount of money that you need to accomplish the goal that you set out for in the campaign,

And if it positions you to have a stronger and a more sustainable annual fund post-campaign. And so the transition phase is really important than to that. You might have, you know, a thousand brand new donors who've never given to the organization before, but they supported the capital campaign. Now, we want to engage as many of those 1,000 in our annual fund after the campaign to help with operations, to help with sustainability, and there are some strategies that can improve your, improve the likelihood that that will happen. And so that's the transition phase. So those would be the four: your feasibility study that kind of leads into your preparation phase, then your silent phase, then your public phase, and then your transition phase at the end.

Great. So I mean, that's a common worry that comes up when when I talk to people about starting a campaign, is that after the campaign, everyone's going to stop giving to them because they gave so much for the campaign, but you're saying that that shouldn't or doesn't have to be the case.

Um, yeah.

Yeah, it depends on the organization, right? So I know that dioceses that do capital campaigns, a lot of times they will see a drop in the collections, they will see a drop in stewardship drives after the campaign because people are, in many cases, the parishioners are sort of refocusing their Sunday offering, or at least a portion of it, towards the diocesan campaign. And so if you know that going into it, then you can plan for that. Other organizations though, schools, campus ministries, um, nonprofit organizations, that's not always the case, right? Some people, it will be, right? They might say, "Hey, I'm already an annual fund donor, I give, you know, a thousand dollars a year. So I can do $2,500 a year," and that thousand is sort of included in that. But most of your campaign donors are not sort of robbing from Peter to pay Paul, so to speak. They're giving to the capital campaign, and then after the campaign is over for the annual fund, they still are likely and interested and passionate about the organization that they will continue to give, right? It does take some work, it takes some messaging. But that's not always the, it's more often the case that your annual fund and your operational giving will increase after a campaign than it will decrease, in my experience.

Great. So let's say you're an organization who sees a need coming down the road, or wants to kind of take the next step forward in their fundraising and and the offerings or impact that they're making. How do they know if they're ready for a campaign? Are there any kind of benchmarks for preparedness?

Yeah, um, so there's a couple of ways to look at this one. You can look at this as, "I want my fundraising program to be strong. I want our annual fund to be strong, and I'm going to set some metrics that once we hit these metrics, then I know, yes, I'm ready to go into a capital campaign." Um, and that's one way to look at it, right? And that's not a wrong way to look at it. In fact, early on, that's how I viewed every capital campaign, is you have to have a strong annual fund, and you have to go into your capital campaign kind of with a lot of momentum and a lot of strength. Um, and that will set you up for success, and then afterwards, you can, because you have got a ready-made kind of pool. You've got monthly donors, you've got annual fund, you've got major gift prospects, and now you're just asking them for a campaign gift. Um, but I have worked with a lot of organizations over the last, what, seven, eight years being with Petrie's that are not in a place where their annual fund is not at peak performance. And yet, the need arises for them to do a capital campaign, and we have actually used the campaign to increase their annual support after the campaign is over. So going back to Oklahoma State, we talked about them at the beginning. That's a perfect example there. We grew, they grew, they grew their database, their list of donors so much through the course of the campaign, that when the campaign was over, they had...

Here is the edited transcript with corrections for spelling and grammar:

Virtually no annual fund going into the campaign. The campaign was, you know, a targeted effort to raise the money for this church, and then after the campaign, they were able to transition so many of those donors into the annual fund that now their annual fund is strong, whereas before it was virtually nonexistent or not where it should have been for them. Due to the campaign, so it is possible to go at it both ways, right? This campaign readiness is less about what are the financial markers that your fundraising, your fundraising program is doing right now, and it's more about, do you have the project in mind? Are you clear about the costs? Um, do you have, um, do you have the team, the fundraising team, whether that's staff and that's volunteers? Um, and your leader, your executive director, your pastor, your chaplain? Um, all of those are going to be very critical. Are they invested in this, and do they see it as a need? And do you have, um, can you recruit the fundraising, the leadership level donors, and the, um, the fundraising volunteer group, the committee that's going to help you, help propel you to success? So if you feel like you can do those things, then kind of where the financial level that your fundraising program is at pre-campaign is less important than do you have a plan, do you have a story to tell, and can you put together the team that's going to go out and execute.

You mentioned some of those team members. You mentioned some of the committee, some of the volunteers, the staff. Ah, what are, who are kind of the main stakeholders or team members you do need to kind of collect and have work together for a campaign to be successful?

Yeah, so it starts at the top. You really want a leader who believes that this is the highest priority for him or her for the next twelve to eighteen months, or however long the campaign is going to go. Um, I've worked with too many groups that the leader says, "Ah, we're going to do a capital campaign, and my development director, our consultant, and the volunteers are going to handle it, and call me when it's over." And ultimately, those campaigns really struggle. So the leader, really, it does start with him or her believing this is the most important project for me and my time over the next 12 to 18 months. And if that means that they have to bring in some support to help with the operations, to help with the management, help with the administration of the organization in the meantime while they're spending more time focused on fundraising, then that is ultimately going to create a more successful campaign than for them to say, "I can do 20% of my time on the campaign because I have to run all the programming and operations." Um, you look at university presidents right now, and it's, you know, 70% of their time is fundraising now, and they have teams of people that handle the academics, the, you know, all the other parts of the university because their presence with some of their highest level donors is so critical that if they're not involved, their donors are, they're like, "Well, I got 16 other charities that I could give to if he or she is not going to show up and be willing to meet with me, then I'm going to go down the list." Um, so it starts at the top.

After that, you really do need a dedicated fundraising person. Um, so ideally that's a full-time staff member. But you know, situations are, you know, like you kind of, you can make it work in a lot of different varieties and structures. Um, but ideally a full-time fundraiser because it is going to take a lot of time, and there's a lot of coordination, whether that's volunteers, database, you know, annual fund or, you know, direct mail. Um, all of those pieces, they all have to be managed, and it's, if you don't have one person that that's their job, then it's really going to struggle. So that's the kind of second, um, ah, person that they need as a dedicated fundraising person. Beyond that, the fundraising staff can be, depending on the size of the campaign, depending on the structure of the organization, can be large, it can be small, but you're going to look for people that can manage, you know, major gifts, they can manage communications, they can manage the database, and all of those are going to make your campaign more successful, but they're not critical to success. Um, after staff, then you start looking at volunteers. So, you know, who are your most committed volunteers, and who are your people that you can bring in that have, um, ah, that have interests, that have affinity, and that have a linkage to your organization? And if you can put together a team of volunteers that can help to broaden the pool of ultimate donors, you're going to be more successful as well. Um, now it takes management to help them because they're volunteers, right? Very busy lives, this is sort of a slice of what they're doing right now. Um, and so you have to manage them and manage expectations and support. But if you can do that correctly, then they can be really successful. And then the third, I guess, kind of sort of leg of the stool, right? So if you're looking at a stool, you've got staff, you've got your volunteers. The third leg of the stool is who are the experts who have done capital campaigns over and over and over again, who know the process, who can help to develop the strategy, that can keep everybody accountable and provide guidance, and that's the fundraising consultant. And so that's what Petrie's does. We work with a lot of organizations on capital campaigns, and really those are, those are our kind of goals: How can we provide the strategy? How can we provide the accountability? And how can we provide the expertise that, when you know, when they develop a plan, inevitably something is going to, you know, there's a wrinkle that's going to show up in the plan. And when you have a fundraising consultant, somebody that's done this over and over and over again, and those wrinkles seem less scary than they do if this is your first time ever. And so, you know, we do a lot of, "Alright, well that didn't go like we wanted to, but we're going to shift and we're going to, um, you know, still tackle this project in a different way." So the three legs of the stool would be your staff,

your committees, your volunteers, and then your campaign counsel, your experts.

33:42.19 aggierobison Great! Great. So if you're an organization that's considering doing a campaign, and you think you have some of the pieces in place, you have this need. What are the first steps you should take in getting ready and getting the process rolling?

33:59.50 AROB Yeah, so um, you know we talked about a feasibility study, and that a feasibility study is um, part of one of the first steps, the actual kind of first executable. So, the first steps that you want to do. But even before a feasibility study, and we and a lot of times. Organizations call us and say we want to do a feasibility study, and we start asking drilling down and there's some work that needs to be done um, to help them in this. But if you can do some of this stuff ahead of time, you're going to speed the process up, and really what you need to identify is what is your project. What are your needs? Um, so you know do you. You need a new building. Do you need a new space altogether? What does that look like, what's the cost for that? Um, what's the timing that you can build. Ah, do you have land? Do you? You know all of those specific pieces of it. Um, you want to figure out what's your project if it's not ah if not a building and it's staffing. What is the you know what's staffing and its cost for you if it's endowment? What are your needs in the long term? So you identify your needs so you kind of start to put together. What is your case for support is ultimately what you're looking for the next piece of it is your database, every person that you can add every contact and contact that you can add to your database before a campaign is going to position you for more success during the campaign. So. Becoming obsessive about growing your database, about adding new names before a campaign. It's just going to make the process better so that would be the second thing is how, what can you do to get ready is to start building your campaign and then I would say the next thing, and Matt Bond, you know you can ask him about this when you interview him for the next episode.

35:27.99 AROB He did this really well in that he started meeting with all of his top donors, him and Father Carey, and even before the campaign was an idea, he made it a priority to go and start building relationships with those top end of it, those top benefactors to the organization. And that paid off in spades for them when the campaign started because they felt like insiders and they had a relationship already well enough with Matt and with Father that when it was time for the campaign, they were kind of like art. Father, aren't you going to come ask me for this campaign that you've been talking about to me for so long and you know it's so like had those relationships that were strong enough. So next steps I would say you know, kind of getting you ready for a feasibility study is start going seeing your top donors can build your database as big as you can and with as much accurate data as you can and. Really figure out what are you raising money for what are your needs and how are you going to tell that story to your donors that excites them.

36:27.45 aggierobison Great, Awesome cool. Any last thoughts or takeaways about campaigns?

36:34.99 AROB Um, so they sound sometimes really scary. You know I started off talking with big numbers right? And um, you know there doesn't have to be a big goal for a campaign. $200,000,000 is a. Ridiculous goal. Um, and so don't think oh we're not going to do $100,000,000, I could do a getbook campaign now. Um you know, even $27,000,000 for Oklahoma State is a big goal. Um, it's really about if your organization is in a position where you have an exciting story to tell you have needs. That are not being met with your current fundraising operation and you have a potential donor base that will be excited about helping you grow. Then you know there's no reason to stop thinking to not start thinking about. Do it launching into a capital campaign because there are a lot of work. A lot of effort but they're also heck of a lot of fun. You get to you know, have really cool donor experiences at the end of the day you know the fundraising team that was part of the building at Oklahoma State of building that church they will know for the rest of their life you know I had I had a part in building that church and yeah everything that comes out of that church. Um, you know the lives that are changed the marriages that are celebrated everything that happens in there I had a part in that was a small part right? I you know ah we we were a team and ultimately we you know prayed a lot and relied on. Ah you know the strength and the faith.

38:04.10 AROB Of God to move us forward but I had a part in that and that's a really exciting thing. So all that to say that sometimes they can sound scary Sometimes they can sound pretty intimidating but they're also a lot of fun and they can take your organization to the next level.

38:16.32 aggierobison Love it. So if if you, the listener, would like to dig more into the topic of capital campaigns, we had we did a virtual summit not too long ago Petra did where we talked we did 3 different talks about different aspects of capital campaigns and we're making that available the recordings of those talks available for free. You got to because this is episode 141 of the Petras Development Show. You're going to find those recordings to our capital campaigns virtual summit. It's going to talk about is your organization ready for a campaign, some of the different things to prepare which we mentioned a little bit today. We kind of scratch the surface today. Talk about if you're doing a building project how to manage that building project at the same time you're managing a campaign and then how to maximize the return on investment of your campaign how to get the most out of it. So if you want to dig into that, go to and you'll have access to all those talks for free.

39:09.56 AROB Um, awesome I remember that summit that was fun.

39:11.19 aggierobison Great. It was another announcement coming up pretty soon here on April Twenty Fourth we have the live basic training session for raise 24 so in the past at our raise conferences. We've done kind of a basic training onboarding session for especially for new fundraisers.

39:28.56 aggierobison Get up to speed on how all these pieces of fundraising fit together this year we're doing it virtually we're going to do it live and it's only for people who have registered for the conference. So if you'd like to be able to attend that live, to ask questions to get the most out of it. Ah, register for raise 24 before April Twenty Fourth, and you'll be given access to that. Go to and yeah, um, come join us in San Antonio June Twenty Fourth through Twenty-Six for the conference excellent and if you have any questions that you'd like to ask for future episodes of the podcast, feel free to send them in to [email protected].

39:46.84 AROB Awesome again I Love it.

40:03.79 aggierobison May feature them like I said we'll have Matt Bond joining on the next episode we're going to dig into donor events which he did a bunch of in the course of their $27,000,000 campaign different types of events of all different sizes and so to be fun to dig into that with him.

40:17.39 AROB Awesome! This is a great episode and great follow-up. Love it.

40:21.10 aggierobison Great. Well thank you, Andrew, I hope you enjoy the nice weather down there but avoid the pollen and we'll see you back here again in a few weeks

40:29.12 AROB Ah, all right? Thanks Rhen.




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