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  • Writer's pictureThe MSG Team

Connecting Basketball & THE #1 Marker For Starting A Capital Campaign . . . .??????

Ask yourself this question. Would you expect a first grader to hit 25 free throws in a row? Would you ever yell at, or shame, that first grader for not being able to do this task? Probably not as it's perfectly fine and normal for a first grader NOT to hit 25 free throws in a row.

At Midwest Studies Group, we get contacted all the time about groups wanting to move forward with a capital campaign. After years of playing things safe after 2020-2021, there is a lot of excitement in the air. Before we say anything else, let's first say that we are honored that organizations think of us.

Sadly though, not everyone is ready to make the move for a campaign. Even worse, there are organizations who move forward, even when they are not ready. What ends up starting off as a dream ends up as a nightmare, as staff and board members raise thousands of dollars when they really needed millions.

So what is the number one marker for seeing if you are ready for a campaign? One could say board development. Others might suggest a strong strategic plan. Both of those would make for strong cases, and are things that Midwest Studies Group could certainly help you with (Enter the shameless plug).

However, what should be the most telling sign of all is asking what your annual giving program looks like. Believe it or not, a capital campaign is very similar to an annual campaign. For most, it's really the scale of the goal and the asks, which are different.

Before jumping into a capital campaign, take a deeper dive into your annual giving program by HONESTLY asking yourself this one question. Does the annual support we get from donors and funders justify the ability to do a capital campaign? This includes the number of donors, the amount given, donor engagement, trust from foundations, etc.

If you feel as if your long list of annual donors suggests a successful capital campaign, then go for it. Take the next step and do a feasibility study to test out your theory.

If it turns out your annual giving program could use some beefing up? That's perfectly fine and normal. There is no shame in that. The fact that you would be gutsy enough to take action on improvement shows the type of person you are.

Let's ask again. Would you expect a first grader to hit 25 free throws in a row? Would you ever yell at, or shame, that first grader for not being able to do this task? Of course not. You would take the time to train, and build, and train, and build until they WERE ready for the task.

The same goes for a capital campaign and the relationship to your annual giving program. Train your team and build your annual giving program until you are ready for the task.


To learn more about strategic and fundraising plans, feasibility studies, planned giving studies, need assessment studies, and capital campaigns, visit us at

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