Only Fools Rush In: Measure Your Next Campaign with This Free Resource

So, you’re thinking about a capital campaign.

Chances are, your board is asking:  How much can we raise?  And how quickly can we start raising money?

Dream big, but don’t jump in too quickly.  Starting a campaign without a campaign study is like building a house without a blueprint.  Our newest resource, The Campaign Readiness Worksheet, is designed to help you take the first step towards a well-planned and successful campaign.

Without a campaign study, your campaign is far more likely to fall short or take much longer to reach the goal.  Even worse is that an unsuccessful campaign can jeopardize the long-term reputation of any institution or organization.  When a campaign is unsuccessful, donors lose confidence in leadership. 

We understand the excitement to skip the study and get started right away.  But spending a few extra months before launching a campaign to plan is well worth the time and effort, and it will save you money in the long run.

We’ve designed The Campaign Readiness Worksheet to be your starting point.  Use it to calculate your score against the metrics we have found to be the most critical benchmarks towards a successful campaign. 


The Campaign Readiness Worksheet prompts you to evaluate your organization’s background and strategic planning success, your staff and volunteer leadership, and your donor engagement.  All that’s left is to be honest in your evaluation. 

As you use this guide, please feel free to schedule a free consultation with one of our campaign consultants. We can elaborate on any metric and give you our personalized assessment of your situation.


We’ve broken The Campaign Readiness Worksheet into three sections—each a critical measure of campaign readiness.  Below is a list of each statement you’ll be asked to respond to and why each is paramount to campaign success.

Key to keep in mind that no organization will receive a perfect score.  In fact, most institutions or organizations will fall below par in at least one category.  That’s okay.  It doesn’t mean you aren’t ready for a campaign.

This guide is designed to be a start—not the end.  Knowing where your vulnerabilities are will help increase your chances of success.  And often, there is plenty of time to address any weaknesses during the campaign study. 

Let’s get started on the self-assessment questions.


Self-Assessment Question: Our organization/institution has a current strategic plan that guides our big-picture goals and objectives.  

Why it matters: Donors are more likely to stretch in the giving to organizations that are governed by a visionary, yet achievable strategic plan.

Self-Assessment Question: To achieve our strategic planning goals, we have a list of capital or programmatic projects that need to be funded.  

Why it matters: Campaign donors are motivated by priorities that move them emotionally but are also logical, appropriate, and carry a sense of urgency.


Self-Assessment Question: Staff leadership is well respected; donors trust their decision-making abilities.

Why it matters: If you wanted to buy stock in a public company, you’d want to be sure the company was well run.  A campaign is no different.  They must trust that the money they are investing will be wisely spent.

Self-Assessment Question: Our organization has a staffed and robust development or advancement shop.

Why it matters: A capital campaign requires the focus of staff.  The more sophisticated and better staffed a development shop is, the better-equipped an organization is to oversee a successful campaign.

Self-Assessment Question: Our organization/institution has a large pool of leadership volunteers who actively work on our behalf.

Why it matters: A capital campaign is a labor-intensive process.  Most development and advancement offices are already stretched thin accomplishing their annual fundraising goals and cultivating major gifts.  Volunteers are necessary to keep the campaign on track.

Self-Assessment Question: Our board members/trustees understand their role in the fundraising process and actively work to generate their own philanthropic gifts and gifts made by others.  

Why it matters: A successful campaign is led by a group of generous volunteers who also have substantial spheres of influence. It is important to have board members or trustees who will actively ask their friends and colleagues to join with them in giving. 


Self-Assessment Question: We have an active donor database (at least 2,500 donors who have given at least one time in the past three years).  

Why it matters: Your campaign’s leadership donors are already in your database.  An active and large donor database gives you a bigger pool from which to draw in a campaign.

Self-Assessment Question: Annual philanthropic giving (not including revenue from events or public grants) is strong.

Why it matters: As a crude benchmark, an organization or institution can raise (on average) 10 times their annual fund in a capital campaign.

Self-Assessment Question: Our organization/institution has a robust donor cultivation and stewardship plan in place that is followed in a timely manner.

Why it matters: Donors want to feel good about their giving.  They want to know what impact their donation is having.  Good donor stewardship is critical to building the long-term donor relationships that result in leadership campaign gifts.

Self-Assessment Question: Our major gifts pipeline is strong.

Why it matters: Organizations and institutions with effective moves management programs are taking good care of their donors.  They’re communicating in meaningful ways and encouraging their donors to make incrementally larger gifts over time.  In essence, they are building the pipeline that is essential to realize campaign gifts.

What’s Next?

After calculating your score and reviewing each metric, consider talking with one of our campaign consultants.  The session is free, and we can give you honest and open feedback about your readiness, and where we think you should go next.  Or, request a proposal for a campaign.

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