If you are looking for a capital campaign partner you need to understand that you engage the consultant not the company. Few churches realize this. They get caught up in which company has the glitziest website or the most professional looking material. Firms will tell you how many millions of dollars they have raised. You will hear them espousing all the large churches they have worked with. Virtually everything they tell you about their company is irrelevant when it comes to whether or not you will meet your giving expectations. Why?
You engage the consultant not the company!
It is not the president of the company that will show up, unless you hire me! It is not the sales person who tells you how great his company is and how many large churches have used them. Forget about how many dollars the company has raised in their history or how many churches they have worked with. None of that matters. The question you should be asking is, who is my consultant? You will be working with that consultant not the president of the company or anyone else. To that end here are a couple of key thoughts.
Never hire a firm without first meeting the actual consultant that will be doing the work. The first thing I did when I started The Charis Group was to ensure that each consultant sold what he worked and worked what he sold. From start to finish you deal with the person at the table when you work with us. Our consultants work within our frame work but they bring their own talent, gifts and passion to the table. So from the start what you see is what you get. Why would you talk to a salesperson when you could talk to the person doing the work?
Ask the right questions. One reason we reject filling out Requests For Proposals, RFT’s is that they ask the wrong questions. This leads the church to inaccurate and faulty conclusions. So be sure you are asking the right questions. If I were you I would be asking…
- Do you have the time for us? Will you be accessible to us? A dirty little secret of my industry is that most consultants carry far too many clients. They thus don’t have the time to meet your needs. Ask your potential consultant how many campaigns they have right now. We limit our consultants to no more than eight in a calendar year. Most carry only four to six.
- Are you experienced in our context? Do you understand what makes us tick? Clearly if they don’t understand who you are they will have difficulty crafting a personalized plan for you that will work.
- What is your past church experience? I would want to know what experience they had in church life. For instance all of our consultants were once Senior Pastors. This is crucial. You want someone that has been there and done that.
- What is your capital campaign experience? You want to know how many campaigns they have done. You want to know what was successful and what was not. How do you know? Ask for references. References are the best way to confirm what you initially feel about the consultant.
These are a few of the questions I would be asking. One final thought on this matter. If you can’t connect on a personal level with the consultant it is a pretty safe bet that you won’t connect on a professional level as well. I am not hired to be the pastor’s best bud or their confidant. However if they don’t like me they will never return my call. I have worked with consultants that I simply did not like talking to. The result is I did not talk to them!
A typical capital campaign is three years in length so you had better engage a consultant you like and feel confidence in whether you like the company or not. Remember, at the end of the day you engage the consultant not the company. Choose wisely!
Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach
Founder and President
The Charis Group and Charis Giving Solutions