At the End of Your Rope

October 11, 2017



Written By: jon

By Jon Simons

As a consulting firm focused on fund development, we field calls daily from organizations seeking advice and counsel on how to raise money for lots of reasons: annual sustaining, endowment, disaster relief, education and awareness, and of course capital campaigns.

These days if feels like there are only two types on non-profits: those in capital and those in pre-capital! When discussing a potential capital campaign, we always begin with the need for a comprehensive feasibility study to understand the potential for success.

At face value, most people believe that the singular purpose of the feasibility study is to identify how much money they can raise. Not so!

While gauging the potential amount of funding that can be secured is very important, it is only one piece of the story. A comprehensive capital feasibility study is designed to assess the potential for success in four key areas:  Leadership – Case – Prospects – Plan. While each of these factors weigh heavy on the potential for campaign success, I am going to give the edge to the factor I believe is most critical – leadership!

At Donor By Design, one of our core beliefs is that Leadership is Everything! In our consulting with hundreds of capital campaigns over the years, the greatest factor in campaign success is a committed, connected and respected campaign leadership cabinet made up of top level local leaders. While this group will surely include existing members of the board of directors, additional top-level community leaders must be identified, recruited and maximized to achieve extraordinary results.

Successful capital campaign leadership cabinets are made up of top level community leaders with high levels of:

  • INTEREST in the mission of the organization
  • ACCESS to top level corporate, foundation and community leaders
  • INFLUENCE as proven and respected voices in the community
  • AFFLUENCE to commit to personal stretch level financial support to the campaign

It is often said that you cannot push a capital project into a community, it must be pulled.

So, before you set out on a capital campaign, take an honest look at who is at the end of your rope. 


Photo by Ross Tinney on Unsplash

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3 responses to “At the End of Your Rope”

  1. Donna says:

    Thanks Jon–so true!

  2. John Alexander says:

    Excellent advice, Jon. Thank you.

  3. Eric Ellsworth says:

    Great wisdom Jon!!