A capital appeal is often the only way an organisation can raise the funds it needs to invest in new buildings or equipment. But launching on one can seem daunting.

Many organisations put all their time and energy into making sure they have enough revenue to cover their monthly bills, leaving little time, mental space or money left to launch a capital appeal. But, at some point, every organisation will need more or improved space if they’re going to progress.

A capital appeal is often the largest campaign an organisation has ever embarked on. If you are one of those organisations spending most of your time and energy meeting the monthly bills, the idea of raising the kind of money needed might seem impossible.

It isn’t. With a coordinated, consistent approach, a successful capital appeal is within your reach. The process of carrying out a capital appeal can also have a whole host of significant benefits that go far beyond the immediate benefits of the building the appeal funds.

What makes a capital appeal work?

A clear vision

The starting point of any successful capital appeal is to define a clear vision for the appeal. What is it that you want to appeal for? Why? How will it benefit your organisation and the people you work with? Why should a donor be interested?

Once you have a vision, you can begin to set goals and create a timeline for the appeal. These goals should be specific, with dates and lead people attached to each one.

Simply going through this rigorous process of defining your vision and setting goals can have lasting benefits, as staff develop project management skills they can apply elsewhere for years to come.

A dedicated core team

Once you have a vision, you need the people who are capable of realising it. Those involved in developing and leading a capital appeal need to understand and back the vision fully. It’s impossible to bring donors on board if they sense that those selling the appeal aren’t fully behind it themselves.

Some of the core team might need to come from outside the organisation, particularly in smaller organisations. If so, that can benefit existing staff as they learn new approaches and make new contacts. A capital appeal can also be an opportunity to bring new permanent staff in who will continue to add value once the appeal is over. It’s often the first time an organisation has employed a dedicated fundraiser, for example.

Commitment across the organisation

Capital appeals impact the whole organisation and require commitment from everyone in it if they’re to be successful, from directors to interns. The process of gaining this commitment brings an organisation together through a process of negotiation and knowledge-sharing.

A network of donors

For a capital appeal to work, an organisation needs a network of donors who are willing and able to help provide the funds. A capital appeal often leads to an organisation expanding and cementing its network, providing gains long after the appeal has finished.