Amid the excitement and joy created by renderings and beautiful pictures, a single, sincere, and serious voice rose above all others:
“How much will the new building add to our operating costs in terms of personnel and other expenses?” (Her decades-long career included forecasting huge for-profit projects.)
That’s THE Question. In other words, “Will we still need to fundraise?”
Fundraising: Not a Field of Dreams Experience
As a fundraiser, are you prepared to explain that donations will continue to be needed even after your capital project is completed?
Non-profit executives, by nature, are hopeful, aspirational, and optimistic, but we don’t live in the Field of Dreams, “build it and he will come” world of actor Kevin Costner.
No, in our world, funded spaces are simply where we fulfill our mission. This may be an arena, shelter, hospital, museum, church, etc. but rarely do such spaces generate revenue sufficient to cover operational costs.
Need help creating a comprehensive capital campaign plan? Email Miracle
Before You Meet with Donors, Know These Answers
What will this capital campaign pay for? You’re either building something new, or you are expanding or refurbishing an existing space.
How many more people will you serve? Sometimes, the answer is none! You may simply be updating or refurbishing an existing space. If, however, you do plan to reach more people, does the demand already exist, or will you need to market to a new audience?
Will this building generate enough revenue to cover expenses? Like most not-for-profit organizations, you will probably have an operating gap as you work to meet your mission.
Stay engaged with your operating team, and prepare balanced responses which strengthen donor relationships:
- “Right now, federal and state reimbursement covers only 76% of every dollar of cost. We don’t see this changing in our new space, which is why we’ll need to continue fundraising to support clients and their needs.”
- “Yes, we are doubling our space, which is exciting. We project we’ll need to grow our audience by 25% to cover increased utility, security, and staffing costs. Fortunately, our board has agreed to run a comprehensive campaign, which includes a budget for marketing and PR.”
- “It’s true. Our expansion keeps families together during one of the most difficult times of their life. However, to keep this program free for our community, our fundraising will continue even after the build out is completed.”
Major donors respect transparency. They also expect you to prepare for these conversations based on your understanding of your prospects.
I predict you’ll make your goal and save yourself the pain of explaining three years from now why you’re still asking for gifts. You may also find that some prospects prefer to fund programs and services as you can hear in this donor’s story.
Want a professional perspective on your project? Contact Phoenicia.
Watch a sample of her work here!
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