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Making The Case… Before Making The Case

September 2023


By Ashley Roberts


Fundraising organizations have long employed campaigns as a method of meeting lofty goals, especially in the healthcare field. In fact, according to the 2022 Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Annual Development Survey, 52% of the institutions surveyed reported being involved in a campaign. The most successful campaigns have now evolved beyond single year fundraising drives for brick-and-mortar projects into complex, strategic, creative endeavors. To raise significant funds to support your healthcare organization’s largest goals, you will need to develop a strategic plan to successfully roll out your capital campaign.

Trends in Campaigns

CFRE International defines capital campaigns as a carefully organized, highly structured fundraising program using volunteers supported by staff and consultants to raise funds for specific needs to be met in a specific time frame, with a specific dollar goal, which allows donors to make multi-year pledges. Over the years, campaigns have become complex and more encompassing of multiple strategic priorities that typically take an average of 5-7 years to complete – and it’s trending upwards. Campaign goals are trending upwards as well, according to AAMC survey respondents, the median campaign goal was $545 million, an increase from the $500 million median reported in 2021.

Campaigns now include more than just brick-and-mortar expenditures and have expanded to include fundraising for clinical programs, research, staff recruitment and retention packages, and population health and wellness, among other priorities important to individual health care systems and the communities they serve. Campaigns are also more commonly successive, meaning many organizations go from campaign to campaign in order to propel their fundraising efforts.

Campaign Planning Study

High performing organizations know that, regardless of how recently a new campaign was concluded, conducting campaign planning studies before launching a public campaign to learn more about their donors and community is a critical first step. When planning a new initiative, a campaign planning study can answer the key questions of “How many of these needs can be addressed with philanthropy?” and “What will our community support?” A successful campaign planning process with a thoughtful and efficient donor interview program will leave your constituents re-energized and motivated to consider meaningful philanthropic investment in the next big vision. You want to utilize the data from your study to build a case that creates a sense of urgency among your donors to support you and inspires your donors to adopt your priorities as their philanthropic priorities and see their role in supporting your organization.

Know that campaigns are not always linear – whether your institution experiences a merger, an economic setback, a new hire with research priorities, or changing community needs – you may find that your public launch date moves around or even is put on hold due to these fundraising organizations know that regardless of the timeline, case components can change as the organization’s strategic plans and priorities evolve over time.

Benefits Beyond Planning

A successful capital campaign not only means achieving your organization’s financial aspirations, but the skills and information acquired by your foundation staff will outlast the end of your campaign. The data you collect before launching a campaign is invaluable to setting your philanthropic goals and ultimately, meeting them, the information provided will have an impact beyond the campaign, if well employed rather than simply collected. You will learn a lot about your organization, not just your donors. You may hear perceptions and attitudes about your healthcare organization that require improvement – those changes will serve your community beyond a donor’s reach. Your planning may open doors that would not be opened by a fundraising solicitation meeting – the relationships built, the stakeholders discovered, and the communities engaged will also impact your institution long after the campaign has finished.

Launching a campaign is an exciting yet daunting task for any organization. Are you considering a campaign planning study? Contact us at to connect with GOBEL today and see how we can lead you through your next campaign planning study to maximize your results.






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