August 27

17 Bright Ideas to Raise Awareness of Your Capital Campaign


In last week’s post, we learned that your capital campaign has to have its own marketing plan. Here are 17 bright ideas to raise awareness to consider putting into your plan.

1. Record video interviews with board members.

Interviewing board members is the first thing I think of when it comes to raising awareness for your capital campaign.

Interviews are one of the simplest and fastest videos to make. This also makes them one of the cheapest video assets to produce.

But even better is the fact interviews allow you to leverage your board member’s social networks!

After a board member has been interviewed and the video has been uploaded to a social video sharing platform, encourage your board members to share the interview videos on their social media sites.

2. Record video interviews with influencers in your alumni network.

Jumping off the video interview idea for your board members, this idea is a natural way to go.

Just like your board members, you have many alumni in your network who have substantial social media followings. Many of them are highly respected influencers in their field.

Word of advice: never underestimate the exponential growth potential of lesser known alumni who nonetheless have kept up with every alumni in their graduating class.

They may not be community leaders, but if they’ve been highly active on social media, they  can get your capital campaign news out to thousands of people.

3. Record video interviews with leading donors.

Okay. This is the last iteration of the video interview idea, I promise. But it’s a good one.

Donor stories are powerful because they showcase the firm belief of the donor in your school’s mission. Nothing shows commitment like putting your money where your mouth is.

Also, donor stories show your audience how “normal” a donor can be. Millionaires don’t always wear suits, ties, and patent leather shoes. Nor does one need to be a millionaire to make a difference in your capital campaign.


Does the idea of interviewing all these people seem like an administrative nightmare?

Well, it can be — unless you use this bonus tip!

I recommend you come up with ways to gather multiple interviewees in one place or event (like homecoming) and schedule interviews with them in a quieter rooms on campus or off-to-the-side.

Make sure, though, that your audio quality is not compromised by loud auditoriums or other destructive ambient noises.

If you have alumni, donors or board members that can’t make it to campus, look into video-conferencing tools such as Zoom, where you can record your interview from different locations.

Also, be sure to check out “Marketing Hacks On a Shoestring Budget” for some great resources to make video less painful, both in effort and cost!

4. Publish Press Releases in your local and regional news outlets.

Good, old fashioned press releases have not gone the way of the dodo.

Raise awareness for your capital campaign through press releases.

Local news outlets will be happy to receive press releases from your school about your capital campaign. They need ideas for news stories that will affect their readers, and your capital campaign should have a very positive impact on your local community.

Send releases to multiple outlets when you launch, during the campaign, and at the conclusion of your capital campaign.

5. Create a video case for support.

As we discussed in last week’s blog post, a written case statement can be a powerful print marketing piece to raise awareness for your capital campaign. Creating a video from your case statement can make your case for support all the more compelling.

For your video case statement:

  • Feature some of the interview footage from the video interviews I recommend above. Recycle/reuse those video assets!
  • Go deeper by showing footage of proposed renovation sites, building sites, student spaces, academic buildings, worship spaces, student activities, etc.
  • Have a student narrate the case to your audience as a voiceover. This will create more of a sense of urgency and feeling of authenticity behind your video case for support.

6. Host campaign mini-banquets.

Annual donor banquets that appeal for annual fund gifts require a lot of administration to pull off.

But for your capital campaign, try creating smaller events on campus or off-campus locally: Alumni, parents, and donors come for refreshments, networking, and to hear your capital campaign presentation.

7. Double-down on growing your email list.

During your capital campaign, it’s a brilliant time to double-down and push hard for more subscribers.

Use gated content to grow your list by creating ebooks, videos, or other media that you give to visitors who sign up for your email list. Remember, your gated content has to be something your audience wants to have!

If you’re not using an email service provider like MailChimp, Emma, or Constant Contact, you need to. Also, marketing automation tools like Sharpspring are powerful ways to get the most out of your email marketing.

8. Create campaign brand elements.

Distinct brand design elements like a logo, typography, and colors will distinguish your capital campaign theme and case from the hundreds of other capital campaigns happening around the country.

Also, unique capital campaign elements will help distinguish your capital campaign efforts from your other fundraising or marketing efforts.


I highly recommend that you create a moodboard for your capital campaign. This marketing tool should preset all the brand design elements in one file so you can get approvals faster and then enforce brand quality control later across all communications.

9. Send direct mail appeals to your donors.

Direct mail appeals are a great way to raise awareness of your capital campaign theme, case, and goals.

Depending on how your school has structured your marketing and advancement departments, you may or may not have any responsibility or authority when it comes to direct mail appeals.

But even if you don’t have anything to do with direct mail fundraising, reach out to your development colleagues to see when they’re sending out mail about the capital campaign so you can track the number of times your audience is hearing about the capital campaign.

10. Hit the streets for personal visits.

You can’t get more into grassroots, guerrilla-style marketing than personal visits.

Everyone knows that during a campaign fundraising staff members will go and visit donors to solicit gifts.

But what I’m talking about here are awareness visits.

For awareness visits, someone — can be a senior marketing, executive, or fundraising staff person — visits alumni, parents, and donors to discuss the capital campaigns case, goals, and general news about the campaign.

You might even consider taking a current student or a recent donor along with you on the personal visits.

11. Post videos to LinkedIn.

As education marketers, our top priority is enrollment marketing. Because of this, you may not be into LinkedIn, but for your capital campaign, you should give it a try.

Your alumni relations department may already have a presence there because that’s where a lot of influential alumni and donors spend most of their professional online networking time.

So for the duration of the campaign, consider taking those videos you’re creating and get them on to LinkedIn.

12. Live stream building and renovation sites.

One of the most engaging marketing tactics we’ve used at Caylor Solutions over the years is a live camera feed at the building or renovation site.

It’s exciting for donors, alumni, and visitors to watch the construction of your building from the ground up or to see a room transformed.

Live camera feeds of your building sites encourage visitors to come back to your site often to check on the progress of your capital campaign.

13. Put on alumni chapter events.

Remember the mini-banquet idea I listed above? You can multiply your efforts across the nation — perhaps the world — by mobilizing your alumni network.

Raise awareness for your capital campaign through alumni chapter meetings.

If you have a strong network, recruit alumni to host receptions and events in their local area to promote the capital campaign.

14. Send gift announcements to journalists.

As I’m writing today, Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas has the distinction of raising more money in a capital campaign than any other private educational institution in Texas.

They raised $1.15 billion dollars, endowed 54 new faculty positions, and completed 24 major new building or renovation projects.

In their capital campaign report, they cited their special relationship with a local journalist as a major factor in their campaign’s public affairs component (a.k.a., raising awareness).

“One strength provided by Public Affairs was a close relationship with the philanthropy columnist of The Dallas Morning News, Bob Miller. He agreed to announce every gift of $1 million or more in his column, if he could be the first to do so. Gift announcements thus were timed so that every two or three weeks an SMU gift story would appear, providing Mr. Miller with ample copy for his column and giving SMU the repetition needed to communicate ongoing progress. His column was a “must read” for much of the Dallas elite who make up the generous donor community supporting area institutions.” — SMU Final Campaign Report, Spring 2016

Mr. Miller wasn’t the only journalist they sent gift announcements to.

“In a typical year during the Campaign, [our News and Communications team] scored 148,232 traditional print placements in such venues as The New York Times, Forbes and National Geographic.”

Take this play right out of their capital campaign playbook and use it for your school, even if your capital campaign goal is modest compared to Southern Methodist University. 

15. Include your capital campaign in community outreach.

Successful private schools are active in their communities already, but during your capital campaign, make sure that you have all the marketing materials you need to raise awareness while you are involved in local:

  • Parades,
  • Festivals, or
  • Volunteerism.

16. Launch ads, articles, and feature stories in your alumni magazine.

Many of the private colleges and universities we work with have a special publication they send out to alumni. It can be a printed alumni magazine or an email newsletter.

However you do your alumni magazine, you can use it to raise awareness about your capital campaign by publishing:

  • Alumni interviews
  • Donor interviews
  • Gift announcements
  • General campaign announcements
  • Building progress updates

17. Create a capital campaign website (microsite).

This one is going to take more time and money than most of the ideas on this list, but it is critical.

Your capital campaign website is the central hub from which all of your marketing efforts will flow and the ultimate destination for your audience.

So you want to invest as much into the messaging, design, copy, and rich media content in your capital campaign microsite as you possibly can.

All of the content you will use in your awareness campaigns (like interview videos, gift announcements, etc.) should originally be published to your website.

From there, the content should then be distributed across all of your marketing channels.

In this way, your distributed content will point your audience back to your capital campaign microsite where they have a chance to become a giver.

Since your capital campaign microsite is so important, we’ll go even deeper into how you should structure your capital campaign microsite in our next blog post. Don’t miss it!

Ready to begin?

There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to capital campaign marketing. We’d be happy to help you with our experienced team of marketing consultants, writers, designers, and developers.

Contact us today to talk about how we can help you achieve your capital campaign marketing goals.

Market More. Spend Less.

Set yourself free from your shrinking marketing budget with my popular ebook Marketing on a Shoestring Budget! This ebook is jammed with practical ways to produce high-quality marketing on the cheap.

Inside, I’ll show you proven marketing tactics like… shoestring budget ebook

    • How to leverage low-cost technologies to reach your target market,
    • How to craft a content marketing strategy on a bare-bones budget,
    • The number one thing your website needs to do,
    • The key to getting free, organic traffic to your website, and more.

No hype. No pie in the sky. Just real solutions for getting the job done with the budget you’ve got.

Download your copy today!

Featured image by treenabeena via Adobe Stock
Press release image by Zerbor via Adobe Stock
Networking/Seminar image by via Adobe Stock

Download Your Copy Today!

Fill out the following form to get instant access to our ebook, Guide to Planning an Education Website Redesign

Caylor Solutions eBook

Download Your Copy Today!

Fill out the following form to get instant access to our ebook, #Hashtags: Your Social Media Secret Weapon

Download Your Copy Today!

Fill out the following form to get instant access to our ebook, Writing for the Web: 7 Secrets to Content Marketing Success for Education Marketers

Download Your Copy Today!

Fill out the following form to get instant access to our ebook, Marketing on a Shoestring Budget.

Download Your Copy Today!

Fill out the following form to get instant access to our ebook, 25 Ideas for Great Admissions Content.

Looking for other higher-ed content and resources from Caylor Solutions?

Subscribe to The Higher Ed Marketer podcast today!

Apple Podcasts
Google Podcasts

The Enrollment Cliff Is Real

Explore strategies for tackling the enrollment cliff and finding mission-fit students with insights from Bart’s book, Chasing Mission Fit.