You can avoid being disappointed in your next campaign by knowing what factors go into the percentage pledged. Too often churches make erroneous assumptions about what can and cannot be pledged. One common error is comparing your church to another. It is crucial that you have realistic expectations about what can be pledged.
In an attempted to break through the smoke and mirrors that companies are spewing out let’s try and see what factors go into a campaign’s success.
The health of the congregation. In my mind and experience this is the number one reason. Healthy congregations willingly give to a campaign. Unhealthy congregations do not. Finding out the issues and potential land mines is essential to the success of a campaign. Most campaigns fail because they fail to take into account the health of the congregation. We attempt to find out what the issues are beforehand.
How compelling the vision is. A close second to the above is how compelling the vision is. People do not give to brick and mortar. People give to vision. They want to know that their gift is going to make a difference.
The financial make up of the congregation. As we have seen in other chapters of this book the top end of a church’s donor pool makes up a significant portion of any gifts given. This is especially true in capital stewardship campaigns. Those churches that you read about that raised three, four or more times their budget always had significant gifts. If your church does not have those types of members then you need to set a more realistic expectation of what you might be able to do.
The pastor’s standing with the congregation. I remember once working with a pastor who wanted to raise significant funds for his campaign. As I laid out what it would take and that we would need significant gifts from those in the High Capacity donor level he told me that all those members had left the church. It appears that they did not agree with the direction he was taking the church. “We are a lot better off without those members dragging down our fellowship and progress,” he said. While that might have been true they took their money out the door and he never raised what he hoped for.
Too often pastors look over this crucial aspect of raising funds. As my old boss, John Maxwell, says, “Leaders touch the heart before they ask for a hand.” So many times pastors in their zeal to move ahead get too far ahead of some members. I am not advocating scaling back your vision to please people. I do want you to be aware that if you have not been a shepherd to your people first you cannot gain their money.
The economy. I am amazed when I see stewardship firms still promising to raise between one and a half and three times the budget in a capital stewardship campaign. In this economy you will do well to go beyond one times your budget. In fact two times the budget is the new three times the budget. Recessions will naturally cause people to pledge less.
The type of project. As I stated above building a new sanctuary usually raises more funds than trying to pay off the debt on the existing sanctuary. Relocations also typically raise significant funds. Part of the reason these campaigns do so well may be in the fact that they typically are first campaigns.
The process used for gaining pledges. Sometimes even though the vision is compelling and all other aspects of the church point to success, the process itself trips people up. If the campaign strategy does not reflect the DNA of the church then people tend to push back not only on the process but making a commitment as well.
The number of campaigns the church has attempted. I have never once worked with a church, including Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church that could raise all the money they needed with one campaign. The reality is that each successive campaign is a greater challenge than the preceding one.
A few years ago I worked with a pastor for the third campaign in a row. As we were driving around one day he said to me, “You need to pray for me.” That always makes me nervous and I asked what he meant. He said, “In our first campaign with you all my wife and I gave away her inheritance from the death of her father. In the last campaign we gave away my inheritance from the death of my father. Since then no one has died and left us any money and I am struggling to even commit what I committed to give last time. How can I lead my leaders to stretch when I can’t?”
That story illustrates one reason why second and third campaigns are more often than not, more difficult. If I sold the bass boat to give to the first campaign the chances that I have another boat to sell are few. As a result you can typically expect that successive campaigns without explosive growth will be more difficult.
We can help you set achievable targets! Call us today and find out how our process will prepare you for a successful capital campaign!
Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach
Founder and President
The Charis Group and Charis Giving Solutions.