tips for your next capital event

5 Planning Tips for A Successful Capital Campaign Event

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Capital campaigns are often periods of chaos for nonprofit organizations because of tight deadlines, intense strategy, and aggressive fundraising goals, leading to more than a little bit of pressure. Composed of two phases, private and public, a capital campaign typically transitions from the private phase into the public phase with a kickoff event. If you want your capital campaign event to run smoothly and be successful, you’ll need to plan ahead. Luckily for you, we’ve crafted 5 stellar tips to keep your upcoming capital campaign event under control and on the path to success:

  1. Pick an event idea
  2. Set your budget
  3. Choose a date, time, and venue
  4. Promote your event
  5. Recruit volunteers

If you’re ready to host a successful event, let’s get started!

1. Pick an event idea

Because there are so many event ideas to pick from, often the hardest part is getting the ball rolling with brainstorming!We suggest starting by identifying your audience. You can use your donor database profiles for insight when asking your organization the following questions:

  1. Who are my donors?
  2. Which of my donors will be interested in a capital campaign event?
  3. Which event ideas are the most appealing to my donors?

Once you’ve determined the donors who are most likely to attend a capital campaign event and you’ve looked at their interests, you can take a look at event ideas. Let’s talk about three popular options!

5K Run

These events are often low-cost and come with a high return on investment. A 5K run capital campaign event would be the perfect option for your organization if your cause is health-oriented. You’ll be able to organically create awareness for your cause as your donors participate in this active event while you raise money for your campaign. Plus, you can even select a theme for your race for added fun! You’ll want to promote this function well in advance to raise interest and give participants plenty of time to collect pledges. Your organization can also think about using online crowdfunding platforms to get donations flowing. You’ll need to give runners materials that include your event’s location, a map of your route, and other handy information.

Gala Event

This elegant, themed function is the perfect upscale capital campaign event. If your organization’s major donors are those who enjoy fine dining, this event is sure to please them. The extent of your gala depends on your selected venue and theme, but it can be as elaborate or relaxed as you please. Remember, even small event details like decorations, music, and menu selection can connect your audience to your cause. Keep in mind, galas are not one-man shows! You’ll need to recruit a team of volunteers to pull of this glamorous event. Create teams for planning, setup, and cleanup of  your event, as well as a committee for handling everything going on during your event. Plus, you can make event registration easy with mobile forms. Your donors won’t be able to wait to buy tickets to this special evening. In addition, ask local businesses if they’d be interested in sponsoring your function to generate some extra revenue.

Golf Tournament

Who can turn down a round of 18 holes? A run, relaxed golf tournament event will have donors shining their clubs and digging out their visors as fast as they can. Be sure to pick a stellar golf course on a beautiful day to maximize your donors’ enjoyment! Let your donors compete individually and as duos, trios, and more. Don’t forget to pick out a fantastic prize for the winning team and runner-up. Make sure they’re swinging their hearts out for the chance to take home your prize.

2. Set your budget

You should be thinking about your budget from the very beginning, but now that you’ve chosen an event idea, it’s time to get down to business. Keep in mind, your capital campaign is meant to raise funds, not deplete them, so your budget is incredibly important!


When we discussed hosting a gala event, we mentioned the idea of sponsors. Sponsors are great ideas for any capital campaign function, and they ease the tension on your organization’s wallet tremendously. Reach out to small, local businesses as well as larger corporations for sponsorships. You might think about underselling your event so that when your turnout is bigger than sponsors expected they’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Financial Plan

You’ll want to create a financial plan and budget. While you should estimate the amount of help you’ll receive from sponsors and the funds you’ll see from ticket sales and other fundraising strategies, you’ll want to make sure your organization can cover all the foreseeable expenses and then some. You can even look into doing a feasibility study so your organization will have a better sense of what it’s capable of. Take a look at Aly Sterling’s Nonprofit Feasibility Studies to learn more!

3. Choose a date, time, and venue

Next up is determining the basic logistics of your event, like date, time, and venue.


Keep in mind, your kick-off event shouldn’t happen until 60-80% of your monetary goal has already been raised in the private phase, so you’ll want to give your campaign plenty of time to raise money before you set the date for the event.You’ll also need to think about the type of function you’re hosting. If you’d like to host a golf tournament, you’ll want a warm (and dry!) spring afternoon so your donors will be comfortable. On the other hand, if you’re hosting a gala, you won’t need to worry about the weather because your event will occur indoors.


You’ll most likely want to choose a weekend day, seeing as most of your donors will be working during the week. Pick a time that doesn’t conflict with your donors’ prior obligations. Most nonprofit events occur in the afternoon or evening! The time will also depend on the type of event and venue constraints. A neighborhood race will take place in the morning, for example, because you'll have to account for blocking off roads in your town.


Pick a venue that’s appropriate for your event. While you probably won’t want to host your gala in a public park, that might be the perfect venue for a 5K race! Select a spot that will fit your event’s theme and keep your donors comfortable. Remember that selecting these details, like date, time, and venue should revolve around convenience — for your organization and your donors! You don’t need to make managing your capital campaign event harder than it already is.

4. Promote your event

Like your typical fundraising promotion, you’ll want to take a multi-channeled approach, meaning you’ll want to include every method of communication that you can! You can promote your function through the following forms of communication:

  • Direct mail
  • Phone call
  • Email
  • Social media

Make sure to provide a link to your campaign’s website or your online donation page, and give donors next steps so they can get involved. You can even post updates on your social media accounts and blog when it comes to the progress of your capital campaign and event setup. Be sure to include powerful photos and videos that will resonate with your audience for the best donor engagement possible. As donors see your campaign nearing its fundraising goal, they’ll be more inclined to give and help your organization reach its goal!

5. Recruit volunteers

Capital campaign events are a lot of work. To pull off a successful event, you’ll need a strong team behind you. We know what you’re thinking: “Who do I ask to help?” You can look at the following individuals to help get your capital campaign event up and running:

  • Board members
  • Nonprofit staff
  • Loyal donors
  • Former volunteers

While seeking out individuals to convert into volunteers, make sure you’re picking individuals who have an interest in your function. Board members or loyal donors who have an interest in the project your capital campaign is raising money will be the perfect prospects. On the other hand, a previous volunteer who helped your organization with an upscale gala may not be overly ecstatic about volunteering at walkathons and car washes. Look into your constituent profiles for hints at which individuals would love to help! Check out Salsa’s Tips for Regaining Lapsed Donors for inspiration on rounding up volunteers! Now that you have our 5 tips to help ease the planning of your upcoming capital campaign event, you’ll have no trouble raising money to further your cause. Keep in mind that at the end of the day, you’ll need to please your donors in for success in any fundraiser, so make sure your event is appealing to and fun for your audience.

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