Capital Campaigns Actually Improve Annual Appeals

Donor fatigue is a fear for many nonprofits embarking on a capital campaign. How often is too often when asking for financial gifts? Will we overwhelm our donors and hurt our annual giving program by running a capital campaign?

Over the years at conferences and in every capital campaign book or manual I have ever read, experts claim that campaigns produce a positive impact on annual giving. I’ve proudly shared this information during sales presentations until, about a decade ago, a church finance council member asked me for statistics to back up this claim. I realized that my argument was anecdotal. I did not have hard numbers to support it.

The Hard Numbers on Capital Campaigns

With that in mind, I gathered data from Steier Group clients regarding annual giving and church offertory and crunched the numbers. Here’s what we found:

  • 2% is the average annual giving increase during the year of a campaign when compared to the year prior to the campaign.
  • 7% is the average increase in the first year after a campaign when compared to the year prior to the campaign.
  • 13% is the average increase in the second year after a campaign when compared to the year prior to the campaign.
  • 18% is the average increase our clients see by the third year when compared to the year before the campaign.

The good news is that most of our clients find that their annual funds increase during and after capital campaigns. We believe this positive impact is due to an increase in awareness and visibility for the organization. Additionally, campaigns cultivate new donors and steward existing donors in a new way.

Capital Campaign Best Practices

The Steier Group encourages clients to separate the timing of campaign requests and annual appeal requests, when possible. Separating the two appeals allows for time for each to shine. If you must run the campaign and appeal at the same time, we advise our clients to consider dual asks. This involves asking for a campaign pledge and annual appeal gift at the same time.

I encourage you to contact me if you have any questions regarding best practices and the professional services of the Steier Group.

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