As a consultant, a donor, or a spectator, my involvement with capital campaigns would be
considered extensive compared to most. Likely for that reason I was recently asked an
interesting question: What percentage of capital campaigns that are ‘approved’ or ‘board
approved’ go on to be completed and built?
While I have no formal research to back this, my immediate answer was, “it depends on how
you define successful completion.”
There are a couple of ways to look at it. Percentage of those that get completed. Percentage of
those that get completed within the proposed timeframe. And percentage of those that do
something, but it is a notably altered version of the ‘board approved’ vision. If I had to
speculate, I would say two-thirds eventually get something built across these scenarios.
If we take higher ed and health care out of the equation, the percentage of nonprofits that put
a fundraising plan and building plan together, get the dollars raised, and execute on the
intended vision within a timeframe that still has the majority of the board members on the
board when they voted to ‘approve’ the project … that is low. Maybe as low as 15-20%.
If that is the gold standard of campaign completion, how can nonprofits increase their chance
of achieving such a height? I would say a Campaign Readiness Assessment because it equips a
nonprofit with the data and insight necessary to determine what can be realistically
accomplished and the most effective means to reach a feasible campaign goal.
You can learn more about how we approach these assessments on our website!