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How to Master a Sorority or Fraternity Capital Campaign


When it comes to fraternity fundraising, large initiatives like funding academic scholarships, donating to fraternity and/or sorority foundations and philanthropic organizations, and improving or building chapter houses require significant resources. If your organization has large fundraising goals, consider conducting a capital campaign.

If you haven’t run a capital campaign before, it can seem ambitious and downright daunting. In this guide, we’ll give you the tools your organization needs to successfully cultivate donor relationships and raise money.

Click here to improve your sorority or fraternity’s capital campaign outcomes with the help of Pennington & Company.

Sorority and Fraternity Capital Campaign FAQ

What is a capital campaign?

A capital campaign is a large-scale fundraising drive for major changes and long-term impact. Here are some common focuses for alumni/ae chapter, house corporation, or national headquarters capital campaigns: 

  • Facility construction or renovation
  • Scholarship funds
  • Endowment building
  • Major fundraising for philanthropy
  • Member experience improvements

Why are sorority and fraternity capital campaigns effective?

Due to the scale of the fundraising goals associated with sorority and fraternity capital campaigns, these initiatives require a significant amount of planning and execution to succeed. A capital campaign is worth the investment of time, money, and effort because:

  • It occurs on a sustainable timeline, allowing for adaptation, adjustment, and relationship cultivation.
  • It has multiple phases, meaning you can collect support from numerous sources.
  • Your chapter’s existing emotional ties to alumni/ae make it a great funding source for your capital campaign.
  • It’s profitable—a recent study found that the average amount raised by a capital campaign was $3 million for small organizations and $8 million for large organizations.

How can you run a successful sorority or fraternity capital campaign?

Before we dive into capital campaign specifics, understand these essential tips for success:

  • Seek professional guidance. Capital campaigns can seem overwhelming, especially if you haven’t run one before. Collaborating with an expert will save you time and money in the long term. Work with consultants who specialize in sorority and fraternity capital campaigns to maximize your fundraising results. 
  • Leverage your alumni/ae networks. When you take your capital campaign public, targeting alumni/ae is a great way to leverage the special connection they have to your organization.
  • Implement a phased approach. Since capital campaigns are such huge undertakings, they’re commonly split into three phases—see below. Taking a phased approach makes the campaign more sustainable, allowing your team to focus on your daily tasks in addition to the campaign.

3 Phases of a Sorority or Fraternity Capital Campaign

In the planning and execution of sorority and fraternity capital campaigns, three primary phases encompass the entire fundraising process. They are:

A graphic showing the three phases of a sorority or fraternity capital campaign, as explained below.

1. The Planning Phase

As the name suggests, this is the time when you’ll do the bulk of your campaign planning. Account for the following areas in your research:

Expense Estimation

The first step of the planning phase will be to consult with experts to estimate project expenses. Although this will largely be relevant to chapters with goals to construct/renovate physical assets (a new member house, an expansion, etc.) for large philanthropic goals (e.g. creating a school), it’s important to determine your costs going in.

Feasibility Study

A feasibility study helps your chapter predict the campaign's success given your current donor prospects and your organization’s resources. Your feasibility study should include the following aspects of your capital campaign:

  • Prospective donors and volunteers
  • Needs assessment
  • Brand perception and positioning
  • Alumni/ae base assessment
  • Economic and market analysis
  • Critical review of past fundraising efforts

You can collect this information by conducting stakeholder interviews, a SWOT analysis, and following overarching financial trends in the fundraising world. 

Prospect Research

Because you’ll be raising significant amounts of money, you’ll also want to perform a good deal of prospect research during this time. Prospect research is simply vetting potential high-value donors that would make the biggest impact on your fundraising efforts. For example, if your goal were to raise one million dollars, your prospect research might include donors who are capable of giving $50,000 or more.

Include as many qualified names on this list as you can find ando segment the names to correspond to each level for which you plan to approach them (i.e. you’ll approach the $100,000 group first, then the $50,000, etc).

Team Assignment

Lastly, you need to put together a team to tackle your capital campaign goal. Answer the following questions to find the perfect candidates:

  • Who on our team should be involved?
  • Who’s going to manage finances?
  • Who’s going to reach out to potential donors?
  • Who’s going to facilitate your marketing and event efforts?

You should also determine how you’ll hold team members accountable for their work. A professional capital campaign manager can provide the support you need to align your team and keep you working towards your goal.

2. The Quiet Phase

In this phase, your organization has begun fundraising, but you haven’t made your efforts public yet. During this stage, you aim to raise 50-70% of your fundraising goal through major donor gifts.

At this point, you’re unlikely to have any significant marketing resources or social proof, so garnering large donations to kick-start your goal can be challenging. However, you can gain some momentum by following these tips:

  • Build a website. A well-made, professional website makes your campaign more trustworthy and helps inform potential major donors about your goals. 
  • Create a brochure and other marketing materials. Create as much marketing material as you can to help potential donors visualize your goals. If your organization wants to build a new house, share a mock-up of what the house will look like. Paint a picture as vividly as possible, then sell them on how their contribution will make an impact.
  • Offer donors special incentives. If you want your donors to give big, give them a big reason to with incentives. If your fraternity or sorority is building a new house, you could offer to name a hall or a wing after them. 
  • Host donor events. Host an exclusive event where you can address a large audience in a controlled environment, such as a gala or banquet. For events like these, a solid presentation and engaging videos will be your greatest asset in connecting donors with your campaign.
  • Build corporate partnerships. Corporations that align with your purpose and values can be incredible resources for donations. When approaching corporations, offer the opportunity for them to be sponsors. You get important resources while they get positive promotion—it’s a win-win!

3. The Public Phase

Once you’ve raised 70% of your projected funds, the public phase is the home stretch. With most of the work done, there’s a lot of fun to be had encouraging the general public to donate to your cause.

In this phase, every gift counts as you move the needle closer to its endpoint. That’s why keeping the public aware of your progress is critical; the closer they feel you are to meeting your goal, the better they’ll feel about donating toward it.

Here are a few tools to promote public giving:

  • Social media. Social proof can be a powerful tool. By giving your prospective donors the ability to contribute directly to your donation page and see others who’ve done the same, you’ll be subtly encouraging more and larger donations without realizing it.
  • Fundraising events. Build excitement in your community with a public phase kick-off event followed by others, such as walkathons, concerts, festivals, and sports tournaments.
  • Public-facing campaign website. Use an interactive campaign website that prospective donors can interact with to learn more about your story and goals. For instance, you can make your website dynamic with a virtual fundraising thermometer so donors can visualize your progress.

Sorority and Fraternity Capital Campaigns: Final Thoughts

When your alumni association aims to raise large sums of money, you need a great plan and a lot of dedication from your team. Thankfully, that’s where a solid fraternity capital campaign comes in. By planning for every stage, from ideation to execution, you’ll be setting your sorority or fraternity up for success.

Click here to secure your sorority or fraternity’s capital campaign success with the help of Pennington & Company’s team of experts.