What is a capital appeal?

Capital appeals are fundraising campaigns that raise money for a new building or equipment. They have the power to bring about dramatic changes in an organisation’s confidence, results, and legacy.

Capital appeals can fund the buying of new buildings, the renovation of existing buildings and the buying of new equipment. The amounts raised are often in the millions for new buildings but are usually less for equipment.

For many organisations, a capital appeal is by far the biggest appeal they’ve ever worked on.  They may be challenging, but we know how to make them successful and have been doing that for years.

The power of capital appeals

Successful capital appeals can be transformative, allowing organisations to expand, increase revenue and help more people. Now, next year, and for decades to come.

Capital appeals give organisations the space and resources they need to thrive. New buildings and better equipment allow organisations to take advantage of new opportunities and make a bigger difference.

Capital appeals also help organisations develop their people, processes and skills in two noteworthy ways.

  • Fundraising development. Because capital appeals are big, organisations bring in new people, find new donors, develop their fundraising team and re-focus on fundraising. Often, a capital appeal leads to the use of interim managers, sometimes including an organisation’s first ever dedicated fundraiser. As well as helping with the appeal while it’s happening, they bring skills that they teach to others. They may leave once the appeal is over, but those skills gains stay.
  • Culture change. Successful capital appeals mean a whole organisation, including operational staff, senior management and trustees, has come together. That translates to better ideas-sharing and teamwork long after the capital appeal has ended.

How to maximise your capital appeals

  • Bring everyone on-board. For a capital appeal to be a success, you need buy-in and hard work from everyone in your organisation.
  • Make a clear plan (and then keep on planning and re-planning throughout the appeal).
  • A willingness to invest up-front, with the understanding that the appeal might take three years and you might not get any return at all until the second.

What does successful capital appeal fundraising take?

  • An audience of potential donors
  • A convincing story. Why should those donors contribute to your appeal?
  • A strategy to get that story in front of the donors. This usually includes events, one-to-ones, and applications to foundations.

Our capital appeal process

Our simple process is tried-and-tested over many years, with organisations of all kinds of sizes, working in all kinds of sectors.

It starts with a feasibility study. This helps us make sure that:

  • The donors you need are there, either as existing contacts or people you have the ability to reach.
  • You have a compelling case that will drive action from your donors.
  • You have the financial and human resources you need. Do your trustees and senior managers have time to lead the appeal? Do they have the right high-level contacts and the ability to approach and convince them?

If the feasibility study shows the appeal is likely to succeed, we develop a strategy and then move to the support phase, with the strategy as our guide.

Our ongoing support

We support clients through the whole process, from idea to building work. We’ll tailor this to your needs, from light-touch mentoring to full campaign management.

There are three phases to most capital appeals:

  1. The preparation phase. Making plans, developing costings, identifying benefits and resources.
  2. The private phase. Asking donors for support, which usually raises 60-80% of the funding.
  3. The public phase. Asking your community and existing supporters for help to raise the rest, often once building work has already started.

Want to know more?

Call or email for a chat about how we can help launch your capital appeal.