Asking Rights, Endowment, & Transfer of Wealth, Part 3: The Time Is Right To Launch A Capital Campaign

Fundraising

By Mark Bergethon

How do Asking Rights, endowment, and transfer of wealth impact each other? As part of the Central Florida Foundation‘s 20th anniversary celebration, Mark Brewer, President/CEO of the Central Florida Foundation (CFF), and Tom Ralser, Principal of Convergent Nonprofit {and author of Asking Rights: Why Some Nonprofits Get Funded (and some don’t)} provided a lot of valuable insights and useful information on these topics. 

Let’s take that conversation a step further though. How do Asking Rights, endowment, and transfer of wealth relate to fundraising campaigns? In order to better examine the concepts presented by Mark and Tom within the context of fundraising campaigns, I’ve broken the discussion into three parts: Demonstrating the Value of Outcomes; Raising Money for Endowment vs. Facilities or Programs; and The Time is Right to Launch a Capital Campaign.

Part III – The Time is Right to Launch a Capital Campaign

If you’re thinking about a capital campaign, go for it!Dave Kepcho, CEO, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida

There is no better time than right now to do a capital campaign. Mark Brewer, President/CEO, Central Florida Foundation

At the Celebrating 20 Years of Creating Legacies endowment event, Mark Brewer talked about the tremendous transfer of wealth that is occurring in American society generally and Central Florida in particular. He also mentioned the upturn in the economy, the pent up demand, and the accumulated but un-deployed capital of corporations, foundations, nonprofit organizations, and wealthy individuals. We at Convergent can attest that fundraising activity and results across the nation have never been stronger. Don’t be afraid to at least explore the possibility of launching a major fundraising campaign in the near future.

The Central Florida Foundation also distributed a questionnaire at the event which was an excellent tool for helping the attending nonprofit organizations determine their readiness to build an endowment. If you are ready, then keep in mind that endowment can be combined with other near-term facility and program needs during a capital campaign. If, on the other hand, your organization currently scores low on that readiness scale, the CFF team (or your local community foundation) can be a valuable resource in helping you to move up the scale. Even if you’re not ready for endowment, your nonprofit may still be able to launch a successful capital campaign for other purposes. Endowment can be viewed as a luxury if you haven’t first adequately funded near and intermediate-term needs, operations, programs, reserves, etc. A capital campaign can put you in a much better position to build endowment down the road.

One of the questions we received at the end of the event was, “What would Convergent do for our nonprofit in terms of first steps if we hired you tomorrow?” The bigger picture answer is that we’d conduct a feasibility study because that initial due diligence is a critical first step to any major capital campaign. It’s the process whereby we learn what can realistically be accomplished and determine how to accomplish it. It positions a campaign for maximum success. It provides the road-map and action steps for moving forward.

But even more preliminarily, we need to think about what you should raise money for. You can’t raise money just for the sake of raising money. Convergent can help your organization examine unmet needs, develop plans to meet those needs, determine what outcomes might result from those plans, and figure out how to translate those outcomes into value for potential investors. That’s really Step One. And we stand ready to help.