Preparing for a Successful Capital Appeal: 6 Key Steps

Capital appeals are exciting for any fundraiser. They can galvanise an organisation and their supporters behind a game-changing vision. They can take them to a whole new level. They can make a real difference to the services they offer to their beneficiaries.

However, not all capital appeals succeed, and when they fall short of target it can be devastating. A failed appeal can cause lasting reputational harm, not to mention internal loss of motivation and morale.

Preparation is key

That’s why it is vital to ensure that you have the best possible chance of success before you begin. There are no guarantees, of course, and running a successful capital appeal is as much an art as a science. However, carrying out a proper feasibility study beforehand means you can avoid the glaring pitfalls which can derail the most well-meaning project.

Ask yourself
  • Does the organisation have strong leadership and a clear strategic direction? Does this project clearly fit within that strategy?
  • Does the organisation have a positive public profile?
  • Is there a track record of support, which demonstrates to potential donors that the organisation has the skills and experience to manage large donations?
  • Do the trustees and senior leadership accept the need to invest in the resources needed for an appeal of this type to succeed and are they willing to commit their own time, energy and reputation in the process?
  • Is there a compelling Case for Support to be made for the project? Can the organisation convincingly demonstrate what benefits the appeal will bring – not to the organisation, but to its beneficiaries and to the wider world. Do these benefits represent value for money?
  • Are there sufficient prospective donors who can give? These can be individuals, grant makers or companies, but must be able to give at a sufficiently high level to reach the target which has been set.
So are you ready?

It’s rare that the answers to these questions show that an organisation should not embark on a capital appeal at all. However, they might just throw up the need for more work before launching. For example, the case for support may not be clear or engaging enough, or there may not be sufficient internal resources in place. These issues are generally quite easy to fix, but risk throwing a major spanner in the works if not addressed. Taking a step back, and devoting a bit of time to looking at things in a clear and rational manner at an early stage really can save time, money and heartache later on.

We can help

IFC’s consultants are experts in running successful capital appeals. If you are thinking of embarking on a capital appeal and would like to explore your plans, please do get in touch.