The Nebraska Community Foundation works with community, organizational and donor-advised affiliated funds serving 250 communities located in 80 counties. NCF and its affiliated funds have reinvested $269 million in Nebraska since 1994.
Call NCF as soon as you find out that your affiliated fund may be asked or may volunteer to help raise funds for a capital project in your community. Capital projects include the construction, renovation or improvement of a physical facility such as a community center, swimming pool, library, fire hall or park. NCF must confirm whether the project is, in fact, charitable and discuss with you risk management based on NCF’s fundraising experience with such projects.
Refer to NCF’s Policy Regarding Fundraising for Capital Projects for information on mitigating risks associated with capital projects. NCF’s policies and procedures help you minimize the many risks associated with such projects due to the substantial amount of money that must be raised, liability during the construction activity, the extended time frame for the project, requirements of possible funding from federal and/or state government and/or other foundation grantors, etc.
With NCF’s assistance, your next step is to create the marketing and communications materials to describe the project to potential donors. Donor information materials may include an artist’s rendering of the project, a case statement describing the need for and purpose of the project, a brochure, a ladder of gifts required to reach the fundraising goal and a pledge card. Depending on the familiarity of a prospective donor with the project and the amount being requested from the donor, some or all of these materials may be included in a donor information packet.
All fundraising materials must clearly identify the owner of the project and articulate that your affiliated fund is only assisting with the fundraising. Donor solicitation materials must provide potential donors with details on the contingency plan if sufficient funds are not raised to allow the project to proceed. Ask NCF to review your fundraising materials prior to having them printed to ensure proper language regarding donor solicitation.
The most effective way to begin your fundraising is with a private campaign seeking major gifts from local high-capacity individuals and organizations. Next, build a broad base of local donors with a public campaign. This public portion of your fundraising may also include grant requests to local foundations. Lastly, you may decide to submit grant applications to regional or national funders.
All verbal donor solicitations must include the same information as your written solicitation materials to maintain a consistent message and assure that donor intent will be fulfilled.
The goal of the private or ‘quiet’ phase of the campaign is to secure commitments for major gifts and pledges of approximately one-third to one-half of the total goal before making a public announcement. This phase will help you determine the feasibility of meeting the financial goal for the project. The idea is to “announce success rather than intention” when you begin the public phase of fundraising.
NCF can help you identify top donor prospects with whom you should meet face-to-face. Build a relationship with open dialogue. Friend-raising comes before fund-raising. Share the goals and vision for the project. Share the facts. Ask for their opinion about the feasibility, and ask for their support.
Schedule appointments with local financial advisors such as attorneys, accountants, bankers and brokers. Share the same information and facts. Ask if they have clients who may be interested and have the capacity to contribute.
Once you have secured a significant dollar amount of pledges, work with the project owner to schedule a public event to announce the capital project’s goal and vision. Report how much has been raised to date. Prepare a press release in advance with assistance from NCF. Create a photo opportunity with the groups of people who will benefit from the project (youth, families, senior citizens, etc.).
Distribute marketing materials. Publish a thermometer showing fundraising progress in the newspaper or post in in various public spaces in town, and follow-up articles to show progress and continued momentum.
Encourage members of the fundraising committee or FAC to host events and speak at local meetings to raise awareness and support.
Applying for Grants
Grants for capital projects should not be counted on as a primary source of funding, but used only as a secondary means of meeting your fundraising goal. Applying for grants is only effective after you have built a broad base of local support for your project. Some federal and state grants are only available to the governmental entity that will own the project. In those cases, the governmental entity, not NCF/your affiliated fund, must apply for the grant.
Be sure to read and adhere to NCF’s Guidelines for Applying for Grants. NCF must review, sign and submit all grant applications completed by your affiliated fund.
NCF will only make disbursements to the governmental or 501(c)(3) entity that is the owner of the project. A Disbursement Request Form must be completed and signed by two authorized FAC members and submitted to NCF.
Disbursements will not be made to vendors for both liability and sales tax reasons. NCF and its affiliated funds are liable for sales tax on any payments made to a vendor. If payment is made to the project owner, sales tax liability depends on the project owner’s tax status.
It is important for the community to share in the success of achieving project goals. Recognizing donors and volunteers at a public dedication event will help build long-lasting relationships of trust and respect. This personal recognition is important to recruitment and solicitation in future fundraising campaigns.
Recognition of donors can include listing their names on a plaque displayed in a public place. Volunteers and in-kind donors should also be recognized for their gifts of time and talent.
McCook Community Foundation Fund advisory committee members say that leadership recruitment is the key to continuing success. Stan Goodwin said, “We’re advocates of making this group representative of the community in terms of gender, age and economic status. No one has their own specific agenda. They’re just focused on the welfare of the community.”Read more →