Key steps for launching a successful capital campaign: contingency plans, a gift table and campaign phases

30th July 2017

Here are some more essential steps for launching a successful capital campaign for your church:


Just like you accounted for hidden costs, you’ll want to create a plan for unforeseen events that might occur during fundraising for your campaign.

These events could range from small hiccups like delays in applying to grant making trusts that might lead to a few months wait before you apply again to large roadblocks like issues with planning permissions, suppliers etc that stall your project for longer periods of time.

Your campaign team and various sub-teams should update each other regularly on progress to identify and deal with problems sooner rather than later.


Once you’ve outlined a budget and financial goal, you’ll need to create  a gift table – or a hierarchy of gifts that can help you identify what types of large gifts you need and how many potential donors you need to contact before securing a gift from them. Because capital campaigns often relay on a handful of large contributions and many smaller contributions, the hierarchy of gifts is likely to look like a pyramid.

Here are some hints for for your campaign timetable.

You’ll need:

  1. A few lead gifts that make up a large portion of your donated income. These gifts are usually given at the beginning of the capital campaign.
  2. A dozen or so major gifts from your most dedicated supporters.
  3. A moderate amount of special gifts from other donors including trusts and your church’s members.
  4. A large amount of general, smaller donations from the congregation and the wider community.

Your hierarchy of gifts will be dependent on your fundraising goal as well as the results of your feasibility study. Remember here the 80:20 rule – which means that most of the income for the campaign (80%) is likely to come from 20% of supporters.


Once you know how many gifts you’ll need from each donor  segment, you’ll want to map out a fundraising course for obtaining those gifts.

The capital campaign team should kick off the fundraising for the campaign with their own donations, but after that, you’ll need to determine when and how you go after major gifts, key or lead gifts, and smaller donations.


This timeline should include two main phases:

  1. Quiet Phase. This is the stage in which you make appeals to major donors, trusts and government agencies. During the quiet phase, many capital campaigns receive 50 to 70% of their overall goal.
  2. Public Phase. After a kick-off ceremony, the capital campaign is made open to the public. At this point, donors like the church members and the community can contribute whatever they want, whenever they want.

You can fill in the details of these two phases with the particulars as they relate to your specific capital campaign.