Fundraising FAQs from the 2016 National Charter School Conference

Convergent Principals Rick Kiernan and Mark Bergethon attended and exhibited at the National Charter School Conference in Nashville two weeks ago. While speaking to dozens of charter school representatives about the prospect of launching a capital campaign to secure major funding commitments, several common questions emerged, and we thought they might be questions you had as well. Here the answers Rick and Mark shared for these FAQs with your peers:

Question #1: By funding do you mean financing?

No. There are many sources of financing for construction and expansion projects. Our clients actually launch a fundraising campaign to secure outright donations (or what we like to call investments) for their projects, facilities, equipment, growth plans, programs, operations, and other needs. We help charter schools (and other nonprofits) secure major funding from corporations, foundations, and individuals interested in supporting their mission. Unlike financing, this funding does not have to be repaid. In our parlance, charter schools are investable community assets with a strong value proposition for the communities and stakeholders they serve. Essentially, we work to get the community to invest in your plans, which will in turn enable you to provide even more value to the community.

Question #2: We’ve never done a capital campaign before. How do we know we can be successful?

The first step in the process is to conduct a feasibility study. We’ll help you develop a compelling case for any proposed plan or funding needs and test it in the market place before ever launching a campaign. Specifically, we’ll conduct dozens of face-to-face confidential third party interviews with potential funding sources to obtain candid input and feedback on your plans, gauge funder capacity and appetite for providing financial support, and develop optimal strategies for bringing your plans to fruition. This process helps to determine what can can’t be done and figures our how to effectively accomplish what can be done. The feasibility study is not just your due diligence – it’s your road map to success.

Question #3: But our staff and volunteers don’t really have the experience or time necessary to do a big campaign. What role does Convergent play when it comes to actually raising the money?

We offer a broad spectrum of campaign management services ranging from simple coaching and guidance to complete outsourcing (and everything in between). Most of our clients opt for our full-time, comprehensive campaign management approach that truly minimizes the burden on staff and volunteers. In that capacity, we’ll place a Campaign Director on-site full-time to manage the day-to-day details of the campaign and actually raise the money for you through our proven process. But decisions about whether and in what manner to engage Convergent for the campaign don’t have to (and really shouldn’t) be made until after we’ve completed the feasibility study.