You’ve written your case statement and your campaign initiatives are in place. You’ve identified your funding priorities and broken them down by their schools and programs. Your donation portal is fully operational. Now you need a capital campaign microsite that will broadcast your message to the world. Where to start? We always recommend a review of the competitive landscape to get ideas and inspiration (and also to see what not to do). We’ve scoured the web for shining examples of websites that nailed it.

So let’s jump right in, here are the best capital campaign website designs from around the web. We’ve started with one of our own, it was our first foray into this rarified world and it left us obsessed with this small but rich corner of the web.

Enjoy!

 

01. The Power of Penn — University of Pennsylvania

power of penn capitol campaign website homepage image

Why we love: So this one is ours. We have massive pride of authorship so it’ll be hard to be objective. We’ll talk about what Penn brought to the table. They wanted to put their fundraising stories at the center of this site. Answering the question “Why give?” was the number one goal we were tasked to accomplish. They created really compelling stories that deserved a platform that allowed them to shine. To that end, we built the site on a SPA framework that preloads the site into memory so that their amazing stories flow seamlessly. Penn invested in highly produced video, copywriting and photography and put their trust in us to bring their content and message to life. We hope you like the results as much as we do.

 

02. Only the Audacious — Tulane University

Tulane University capital campaign website

Why we love:  A really lovely homepage masthead leads you into this superb site. It employs a well executed layering of the logo with a high impact, almost full-bleed background image and a hodgepodge of tagline, brandmark and framing devices that feels effortless. We also really love how the small preview of the video transitions on scroll to full-screen. We may have to steal that for our next site. This homepage is a one-stop-shop for all things campaign related. Their four main initiatives are prominent and linked nicely to their respective landing pages. The schools and centers are featured on the homepage and are also easily discoverable through the takeover navigation. The giving stories are introduced cleverly by an invitation to alumni and students to share their own stories. Overall we are impressed by the high level of graphic design execution and follow-through. They stuck it. 10 out of 10!

 

03. Be the Light — Lawrence University

Be the Light—Lawrence University capital campaign website

Why we love:  Here is a site that really takes the campaign name to heart. Everything in this site conspires to support the main message, from the more literal use of a radial motif around the school’s logo, to the wide-open, generous use of white space that lets the excellent photography shine. This site communicates a relentless, optimistic brightness. We’d also like to give the Award for “Best President’s Photo” (the “Prezztoggy”?) to this site. He looks heroic and down-to-earth at the same time, we’d give him ten’s of thousands of dollars for his projects and initiatives if that was our thing. The site is lean and concise in its messaging and does the job of communicating and inspiring nicely.

 

04. Because Hamilton — Hamilton College

Hamilton College capital campaign website

Why we love:  We’ll start with a negative— we’re not loving the campaign name. “Because Hamilton” sounds like a starting point that could end badly. It calls to mind Arrested Development’s titular Sudden Valley. But that aside, we like just about everything else. The homepage is unconventional which alone helps hold our attention. There is a nice use of split screen text and imagery that breaks down and serves up the initiatives into power verb themes (INNOVATES, CONNECTS, TRANSFORMS, etc.) The use of parentheses as a branding motif is cleverly reinforced by a subtle hover effect on the main navigation links. Simple touches like that make our little design hearts sing. This site made our list Because Hamilton went the extra mile to spend the time and effort to make this site look great (see what we/they did there? ok maybe the name works after all. )

 

05. For All Kind — University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill capital campaign website

Why we love:  This site made our list for its juicy photomontage and headline pairing in the masthead of the homepage. They had us at the watercolor and benday dot layering in light blue. The campaign logo is a bit hidden, which is a shame because it’s a good one. We originally thought the campaign name was “Led By Excellence”, but the site was engaging enough for us to stick around to figure out the real name: “For All Kind”. There is a decent mega-menu under the “Campaign for Carolina” link (another campaign name?). It provides a great, at-a-glance overview of the campaign. We really like their use of fundraising figures. The brush stroke motif on the animated pie chart elevates the infographic format and keeps it from weighing down the message with cold numbers. Though we found the campaign naming strategy a bit confusing, the visual design is strong and cohesive, and manages to save the day.

 

06. Beautiful/Work — School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Beautiful Work—School of the Art Institute of Chicago capital campaign website

Why we love: If the headline of your site is “Beautiful Work” you’d better follow through and this site just about does it. We’re not sure what the image in the background is but it’s pretty, and hey, it’s an art school capital campaign, so ambiguous arty imagery should be on the menu. The award for “Best Campaign Anthem Video” (the “Anthemy”?) should go to these folks. We watched all the way through and got a bit teary at times. Content-wise the site is very prosaic. “Just the facts, Ma’am.” seems to be the theme of the copywriting and content strategy. We’re guessing that all the emotional effort was poured into the video and that is a solid strategy in our humble opinion. We wish we could see more examples of the student and faculty artwork, but that is just a personal proclivity. In summary: solid site, great campaign name, awesome anthem video. Take a look.

 

07. Boldy Buffalo — University at Buffalo

University at Buffalo capital campaign website

Why we love: Such a cool way to integrate the video into the still image in the homepage masthead! Well done, another idea we want to steal in the future. Boldy Buffalo has a solid weightiness that pervades everything in this site, from the minimal yet muscular use of type in the logo to the power-verb/photo lockups in the three campaign priorities that follow the masthead. Everything seems solid and well considered yet delicately balanced throughout this site. We like the idea of “Find Your Cause” as the organizing principal for the Schools and Initiatives page. It acts as a nice index to the individual giving opportunities and even goes directly from there to a related fund giving page.

 

08. GO: The Campaign for Lehigh — Lehigh University

Lehigh University capital campaign website

Why we love: While the main colors, no doubt taken from Lehigh U’s overall branding, are unfortunate, we love this site’s “go big or go home” approach. We didn’t find any other capital campaign site that strayed so far from the conventional website format and we applaud that. “There is no impact/without action” and the “without action” is upside down? Come on, that is straight-up baller! (typographically speaking). Taking risks does not undermine the gravitas of their effort, however. In fact, we’d argue that it deliberately showcases the ethos of innovation that the campaign is asking their public to support. We are not 100% sold by the all caps H2’s and H3’s throughout the site but we see where they are going with them. A slightly lighter font weight would’ve done the trick, but this is the kind of stuff that only weirdos like us obsess over so this site is safe.

 

09. Campaign Montana — The University of Montana

The University of Montana capital campaign website

Why we love: This is a nice use of b-roll in the fullscreen background video. “Big” and “Bold” are baked into the big sky shots of the campus and surrounding mountains. Beyond that there doesn’t seem to be much urgency to make anything else big and bold, perhaps a missed opportunity. The campaign logo has to do a lot of heavy lifting— it’s tasked with showcasing the campaign name, the campaign tagline and an affiliated foundation logo. Someone is trying to put all their groceries into one bag and the logo creator still managed to make the bag feel light. This graphic designer really is the hero we need right now. Beyond the homepage masthead this site is pretty basic in a good way. Someone needs to fix the favicon tho. Reach out to us, we are a full service digital agency, we can hook you up 🙂

 

10. The Call to Lead — Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College capital campaign website

Why we love: 2+billion raised of a 3 billion dollar goal? We’re not sure we’d trumpet that info — hard to cry poor when you have $2 billon! But kidding aside, success breeds success and the numbers speak for themselves and are showcased right on the homepage in a nifty infographic. Overall the look and feel is solid and consistent, which produces a very satisfying overall effect and inspires confidence. What more can you ask from a capital campaign website? We can’t think of too many more things than that, but we enjoy trying. Simple is good though, and this site is effective, and worth a look.

 


Thanks for sharing our brain-space temporarily, we hope you enjoyed it and have come away with some inspiration and ideas to propel your capital campaign website project. If you have any recommendation for sites that you think we should add to this list hit us up. If you’d like to partner with us on your capital campaign or fundraising website then please consider reaching out to us to start a project.