A capital campaign is "an intensive fundraising effort designed to raise a specified sum of money within a defined time period to meet the varied asset-building needs of an organization." Asset-building activities include the construction, renovation or expansion of facilities (for example, a new building), the acquisition or improvement of land, equipment, or other items, and additions to a financial endowment. Two characteristics set capital campaigns apart from other forms of fundraising activities. First, "the gifts solicited are much larger than those generally sought during an annual fund." Second, "pledges are emphasized as commitments payable over a number of years convenient to the donor or through the transfer of appreciated real or personal property."
Various types of capital campaigns have been identified. The traditional "brick and mortar" campaign, focused on building construction or improvements, was considered a "once in a lifetime" campaign in the past because of the ambitious goals of the campaign. Today, however, organizations frequently schedule capital campaigns every five to ten years, and "the megagoals announced by large institutions often are the result of 'counting everything' during a five-to seven-year campaign period."
A second type of capital campaign is the comprehensive, integrated, or total development campaign, which aims for a longer fund-raising program based on a long-term analysis of the organization's needs and direction. This form of capital campaign includes ordinary fundraising actives, such as annual gift drives, which are "slower-paced and lack the intensity of the traditional capital campaign."
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