Best Practices for Funding Economic Development

Funding Insights Blog: Best Practices for Funding Economic Development

Watch the video below to learn the key steps included in the investment campaign model. This best practices approach is a proven and highly successful way to secure the funding needed to implement a wide variety of economic development initiatives. You can also continue reading below for the full video transcript.


The best practices approach for funding economic development organizations or the economic development initiatives of chambers of commerce is through an investment campaign. The investment campaign model for funding economic development essentially works like this:

First, you develop a multi-year strategic plan or program of work. Three to five years is typical. The program should encompass everything that you want to do for your community within that time frame, all the items that you’d like to work on; new business recruitment and attraction, existing industry retention and expansion, workforce development, whatever the right strategies are for your organization and your community. You’ll also develop a multi-year budget and establish big-picture, long-term goals for what you would like the program to accomplish.

Then, you undergo what is pretty much a traditional nonprofit capital campaign process to secure multi-year pledges, funding commitments, from your stakeholders. In an economic development campaign, the primary stakeholders are the local business community. Then, with funding secured, you focus on implementing your program of work, attaining your big picture goals, and in the process, providing a return on investment to your stakeholders, your investors. Essentially, as you work to grow your local economy you’ll be helping local businesses to prosper.

At the end of the three to five year period, you basically repeat the process. You develop a new plan, you establish a new budget, you set new big-picture goals, and you justify a fresh round of investment from your investors. Typically, the funding levels increase cycle over cycle. Hundreds of economic development organizations and chambers all over the country have adopted this model with much success. In fact, some organizations are in their sixth, or seventh, or eighth multi-year cycle and have literally been doing this for decades with great results.

Convergent’s role in the process is at the outset of each cycle. We can help you to frame up the strategic plan in a way that maximizes investor appeal and then conduct the capital campaign. We can actually go out secure the funding for you so that you have the resources needed to implement a program of work that produces the outcomes your investors value.

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