House Corporation Capital Campaigns



When the house corporation is ready to start a major capital campaign, it should proceed along certain broad principles which have proved successful. The general plan is the same without regard to the amount of money to be obtained. It is wise to establish a maximum goal at the outset and to determine the timing of the campaign. It should be obvious that a campaign should not coincide with a fund-raising effort of the college or other major campaign.

The amount to be raised will, of course, be determined by the need and the ability to meet it. The goal must be a practical one, but it should be high enough to eliminate the need for similar campaigns in the foreseeable future.

It is the considered opinion of all fund raisers that it is essential to set a definite time for the beginning and the end of a campaign. This period should be long enough to allow for the necessary work and short enough to keep the enthusiasm of the workers and donors at its height. When such a period has been set, it must be adhered to. Six months is a practical minimum and one year the maximum for this type of campaign, though pledges might extend over a two-year period.


General Chairman

This should be a prominent alumnus of the chapter, whose name is known to all the alumni and who will respond generously to such a man. He should be in a position to give the campaign active, vigorous direction.

The campaign will require a great deal of time and personal attention from the general chairman; therefore, it will be apparent that he cannot be window dressing.

It will be his responsibility to appoint the personnel of the campaign committees after consultation with the house corporation and other actively interested alumni. He is liaison between the alumni and the Central Office in this special effort of the chapter.
As the campaign progresses, it is he who will be called upon to be a troubleshooter:
he will need to be alert constantly for areas requiring additional work. In order that he may know the exact status of the campaign at all times, he will establish stated dates for reports from all workers.

Honorary Chairman

In addition to the General Chairman, it may be advantageous to select an Honorary Chairman or a Co-chairman who, for one reason or another, may not be able to give the time to the chairmanship, but who is well known and respected by all alumni. It must be recognized that he is not a working chairman, but his name may inspire confidence in the program and cause additional support for the fund-raising effort.

Executive Committee

The personnel of this committee should include the real work horses of the campaign and should be geographically available for frequent consultation and effective work.

Directly under the Executive Committee is the following type of organization:

1. Chairman for every city, town, or area with 25 or more alumni. (In large areas, it may be advisable to have vice chairmen, one for each four captains.)

2. Captain for every city, town, or area with less than 25 alumni.

3. Captain for each four workers.

4. Worker for each five prospects.

Immediately following his appointment, each alumnus should receive a list of alumni in his area in order that he may check the names and addresses and send any additions and corrections to the campaign chairman.

Evaluation Committee

This committee, to be appointed by the General Chairman, should study the list of alumni and make final decisions on evaluation. Evaluation is the amount that each prospect will be asked to contribute as his share of the campaign. Careful evaluation will make the difference between a minimum and maximum amount to be realized from the campaign.

After the evaluations are completed, a schedule should be set up showing the total number of contributions and the individual amounts which will be necessary to realize the established goal. For example, start with $5,000, $3,000, and $1,000, and so on down the line, in setting up the schedule. It is necessary to receive several large gifts in order to achieve the goal.
More than 75 percent of the goal must be obtained from substantial contributors. This, in itself, points out the importance of effective evaluation, which cannot be stressed too much. For example, in a recent campaign, one Phi Kappa Tau, out of touch with his chapter and the alumni for a number of years, who had reached the million-dollar class without anyone knowing it, sent in $200 as the result of a mimeographed letter. Later contact increased the contribution to $15,000, with more coming eventually.

It goes almost without saying that in evaluating gifts, members of the Executive Committee, and, indeed, all working members must be the first to make a commitment to the limit of their ability. These are the leaders and others will look to them as an example.

The Evaluation Committee should be sufficiently large enough to include members with an up-to-date knowledge of the status of all alumni.

Special Gifts Committee

After the Evaluation Committee has completed its work, a Special Gifts Committee should be named to handle the large contributors. This is sometimes called the advance gifts committee, as large contributors are contacted prior to the opening of the campaign in order that their gifts can be announced as a sound basis for the success of the project.

All alumni whose shares are considered to be $1,000 or more should all receive the attention of the Special Gifts Committee. Contact should be made with these alumni personally. In the rare instance where a personal interview is not possible, the Special Gifts Committee should work through personal letters or long-distance telephone calls.

Gifts of this special group will give the general campaign a springboard. Conditioning is an important element in a financial campaign. If success can be achieved with the special group, other alumni will give their share.

Public Relations Committee

A small group should be named to direct the handling of the publicity for the campaign and prepare all information for use of the campaign workers and for release to the college and general public.


A campaign can be successful only insofar as the personnel of the committees are well selected and the workers given adequate instructions and effective tools with which to work.

Membership Data

The Fraternity's records are maintained in a computer bank, and directories and lists of alumni are obtainable from the Central Office in various styles and forms:

1. Directories arranged alphabetically, by zip code, by class and by various combinations thereof.

2. Self-adhesive labels in various class and geographic sequence as noted above.

3. Cheshire labels arranged as noted above. (The Cheshire label is frequently preferred by mailing houses.)

4. Photo-ready directory lists are obtainable if you propose to distribute directories to your alumni in conjunction with the campaign.

Before the campaign starts, it is essential that this list be checked in every available manner for correctness and that changes are sent to the Central Office for its records. Additional lists will be sent to the committee upon request. It is important that every alumnus be reached.

Names of any interested alumni who are not members of or affiliated with the chapter should be incorporated in this list. Oftentimes, long-time Phi Taus’ residents of the local area have a more active interest in the local chapter than in their own chapter.

Brochure of Public Relations Committee

This is one of the most important single factors in a successful campaign. It must simply, concisely, and completely present the story of the need. It should give a clear picture of the assets of the house corporation, the reason for the campaign at this time, the financing that is available, the repayment fund. A condensed financial statement of the undergraduate chapter should be given, including information on the payments to be made by the chapter to the house corporation when it occupies the new house. It is especially important to show how these payments can be made by the chapter. The alumni want the business facts about the situation. They must be assured that the project is sound financially. Ostentation is not desirable. An expensive mailing piece can have an adverse effect on contributions.

Progress Bulletins

At every state of the campaign, all workers from the top level outward should be informed of the status of the progress toward the goal.

Direct Mail

Personal contacts with individual alumni may be augmented from time to time by form letters and bulletins from the General Chairman. These should not be the prime effort in obtaining contributions from any alumnus.


Other Sources of Revenue

Depending upon the local situation, there may be other sources of capital contributions. Many chapters have found great interest among parents of undergraduates. If a parents' club is organized and representatives of that group are brought into the campaign planning early enough, usually a sizeable sum can be raised from among this group. Furniture needs are usually relative to the size of the chapter and its ability to carry debt, and, in most cases, there is sufficient interest and adequate funds from parents of members and pledges alone to provide sufficient funds to pretty well furnish a chapter house. Generally, we do not recommend solicitation of alumni of other chapters. You may have in your area, however, an alumnus or two who have adopted your chapter and will want to be a part of the campaign, either as a worker or a substantial donor. Don't overlook these Good Phi Tau’s.


Without going into detail here, the phone-a-thon is a technique which may be a useful part of your campaign. Sizable sums can be raised by a well-organized phone-a-thon. Ordinarily this technique would not be used as the principal thrust of your campaign, but rather as a means of reaching those who do not respond to the initial contacts. Before a phone-a-thon campaign can be conducted, however, most of the primary work detailed here must first be completed. To proceed with a telephone campaign requires the bringing together of 10 to 20 alumni at one point with detailed instructions as to how to proceed, a script to follow, a battery of phones available, a careful record of pledges made and preparation for immediate follow-up by mail, the next day, to those who made pledges. The Central Office staff and college development officers can help you lay out your phone-a-thon campaign.


  • Three things should desirably be accomplished at the outset and at almost the same time:
    • Establishing of a goal
    • Appointment of General Chairman
    • Determination of the timing of the campaign
  • Appointment of the committees by the General Chairman; meeting of all committees for instruction and organization.
  • Obtaining computer printouts of the alumni membership from the Central Office.
  • Checking membership roster for current addresses.
  • Publication of campaign brochure.
  • Setting up organization framework of chairmen for various cities, captains, and workers.
  • Series of instruction meetings for all captains and workers, at which the campaign tools will be supplied.
  • Work of Evaluation Committee.
  • Work of Special Gifts Committee.
  • Opening of campaign.
  • Weekly bulletins by General Chairman to all workers.
  • Biweekly bulletins or informational material to all alumni.
  • Closing of campaign.
  • GROUND BREAKING — at conclusion of successful campaign.


Each situation will have its individual problems and will require changes in the overall suggested plan, as well as the timetable, but the broad general principles outlined here have proven effective.

It is not possible to overemphasize the importance of personal contact in a fraternity financial campaign.

Ideally, it would be hoped that all contributions could be made on a cash basis. The acceptance of pledges payable over a period of time will require one member of the committee to be assigned the responsibility of follow-up. Although gifts made on the basis of pledges will delay the start of work on renovating or building a chapter house, the opportunity to make an initial gift and spread additional gifts out over a period of months, or possibly a couple of years or so, should result in additional giving. The full one-time cash payment is, of course, preferred, and anyone who pledges should make an initial gift at the time of making his pledge.

In dealing with pledges, a number of things will have to be used. It must be remembered that the building project cannot be started until the total amount of cash needed to pay all contracts is on hand. Banks and the Fraternity cannot, and will not; loan funds on the basis of pledges, and thus pledges extended over a period of time will hold up your construction and, in these days of inflation, will result in increased cost.

In conclusion, a sincere purpose logically presented with a properly organized campaign and effective follow through of workers on a personal contact basis will result in the achievement of the desired goal. When the campaign is completed, all participants, from the General Chairman to the smallest contributor, will enjoy a great sense of satisfaction, and the tangible results of their fund raising will serve as a continuing monument, not only to their efforts, but to the strength and ideals of our great Fraternity.

Did you find this information useful? Do you feel you can improve upon it? Are you an expert in another area? Join the site and edit or create new resources for Phi Kappa Tau.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License

SSL configuration warning

This site has been configured to use only SSL (HTTPS) secure connection. SSL is available only for Pro+ premium accounts.

If you are the master administrator of this site, please either upgrade your account to enable secure access. You can also disable SSL access in the Site Manager for this site.