Every gift is valuable when you’re running a capital campaign – continuing to provide events, programs, and services to the community takes investment. In 2018, you can make your capital campaign more successful than ever by keeping in mind a few best practices and fixing a few issues that can plague even the most efficient church fundraising efforts.
The building blocks of a successful capital campaign
- Identify the group that supplies most of your annual income. Generosity is an important spiritual issue. Pastors should know how members are growing spiritually.
- Nurture positive relationships with your major donors before you ask for a gift. We have to earn the right to ask. By regularly meeting with your financial leaders to show interest in the things they are concerned about, you convey that they are part of the community and that you care about them, their families and their business. Mentor and minister to them spiritually to develop relationships and earn the right to ask when the time comes.
- Find out how to connect families to your vision. Find out what questions your donors have about the capital campaign. If you know what questions, reservations, or objections they have, you can address them in advance of your campaign. A pre-campaign study is a vital step in successfully connecting your most valuable donors to the project vision.
- Involve your financial leaders early and invite them to help you establish momentum. Leadership gifts build momentum, which shows the rest of the congregation that the goal is achievable if they will do their part.
- Value every gift. Without more considerable gifts you will not raise what you need. Nonetheless, it’s important to value the widow’s mite contributions equally with the large donations. All your members working together will achieve a bigger result than what a few can accomplish alone.
The 3 issues to avoid in your next capital campaign
“We need to go right now!”
You may feel like momentum is on your side, or like a big church vote points to a need to act swiftly. Or maybe you have a note coming due. When a church comes to me with such a sense of urgency, I wonder if they did not know all of these things several months back. I respond that we can certainly go “right now!” but I sure wish I had more time. When things are rushed, the chance for errors increases markedly. You frequently do not do things as thoroughly or creatively as you might like because the clock is ticking. If you see even the possibility of a campaign in your church’s future, call immediately. Talk with a professional about timing. The cost to have someone under contract is the same, whether it’s for one year or for two months. Ideally, you should have this conversation from one year out to no later than nine months out.
“We only want to raise ___________.”
Don’t settle for less than what you need for your budget. When someone comes to me asking for less than what they might really need, I ask them if they could use two times the amount. Usually, I get something like, “Well I guess, but we have not talked about it.” This is a big mistake. For a campaign to raise you half your budget will cost you the same as if I raise 2-3X the amount. At least test for a higher target. Once your church has done a capital campaign and declared victory; that’s it. You can’t turn around and do it again in a year – you’re done for a while. Whenever you think you will need a campaign, make sure you are trying to reach your maximum potential.
“We need a campaign because we are way behind on the budget.”
You are fishing in the wrong pond. Capital dollars do not fund operating budgets. The annual pocket or (better yet) the generosity pocket supports your operating budgets. This approach is entirely different from a capital campaign. It may even take longer, but it will pay long-term benefits.
The lesson in all of this is to be cautious and thoughtful. First, diagnose your problem or need. Then identify the right solution. And finally, take a step-by-step approach under the guidance of a qualified, experienced partner. The result will be a smoother, more successful capital campaign that will sustain your efforts for longer and even help to build community through the funding process.
For more insights on making the most of your capital campaign, download an excerpt from Clif Christopher’s book, Rich Church, Poor Church for free at Horizons Stewardship.