When it comes to something as important as helping you raise capital campaign funds you don’t want to hire a Brian Williams! Right now NBC’s Brian Williams is capturing the news about fabricating a story while reporting in Iraq. He has apologized but now every story he has filed is coming under review. Before we throw a stone at Brian we need to realize that our natural tendency is to make our stories better than they are. Sadly that is often true in my industry.
Here are some Brian Williams type of statements that I often hear or read from stewardship firms…
“Our pledge to budget ratio exceeds the national average.” That always makes me laugh. Why? Most firms cherry pick results to arrive at a better average. Most never count campaigns after the Great Recession. Finally how do they know what the average of other firms is? I have looked for over sixteen years for an independent study on campaign results and have never found one!
Here is a truth to the pledge to budget ratio average. Raising more than one or two times your annual operating budget takes significant five and six figure commitments. As I always say, “Does Bill Gates go to your church?”
For your church to raise over two times your annual yearly budget EVERY member would need to double what they gave to your church last year! Every one of them. OR, you will need a few to step up with large commitments.
This week I reviewed a churches current campaign that they did themselves and showed them that nine families committed 50% of what was committed. This is typical. While we work to get everyone committed and on board the reality is always that the few will give the majority. Unless you have that kind of horse power under the hood you will not raise what many firms promise in the sales cycle.
Here is another Brian Williams type statement I hear…
“We will be onsite more than anyone else.” Again, how do they know how many times another firm is onsite. The other question you ought to ask is why is that necessary? In this day of digital communications many tasks can be accomplished by email, telephone or conference call. I don’t short change my clients in terms of how many times I am on site. Yet I have learned that the last thing they want or need is one more meeting!
A few years ago I once worked a church that had previously contracted with a company that promised to be onsite over forty times! Amazingly that firm did not even get invited back to make a presentation for the next campaign.
Being onsite is not the issue. Being available and proactive for you is the issue. The best way to discover if a consultant provides that is to check their references. Don’t simply take their word for it.
Am I accusing firms of lying? What I am saying is that in the sales cycle it is natural to give the best case view of things. It is kind of like when you were dating your spouse. You put your best foot forward hoping to impress and win them over. Then after the ring is on the finger reality sets in.
“You told us the truth.” “You were honest about what we might raise.” Those are two recent comments from two different churches when I asked them why the decided upon The Charis Group. We need a fresh wind to blow through the stewardship industry of honesty. Let’s not have any Brian Williams moments for churches.
Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach
Founder and President
The Charis Group and Charis Giving Solutions