“The stewardship industries average pledge to budget ratio is one and a half to two times budget but our pledge to budget average is three times budget.” That was a statement written by the founder of one of my competitors. When I read it I laughed out loud. You should too because it is a lie at worst and irrelevant at best.
“I talked to two other stewardship firms and they told me the same thing as you did that one times your annual budget raised on a debt reduction campaign is the average.” That comment came from a business administrator who had interviewed many of the various companies and then chose us. He heard what owners and presidents tell me privately,
Since 2008 pledging to capital campaigns has been less.
That is why this last summer when I read the comment from a competitor that their company average was three times I knew he had cooked the books to establish that average. He is giving you a sales answer, which is my kind way of telling you he is, well you know.
One of the despicable things about the stewardship industry has been the outright lies of salesmen in an attempt to win a contract from your church. It is the number one reason why when I started The Charis Group that I made sure we did not have salesmen. Our consultants sell what they work and work what they sell. That way we show up to face the music for any claim we make up front.
So, how do I know this firms pledge to budget average is not three times? First, the nature of capital campaigns since 2008 has been largely debt reduction campaigns. Those on average bring in about one times budget. The firm in question, like all of firms from 2008 until just a few years ago worked primarily debt reduction campaigns.
Secondly, do the math. To average three times that means you never have any campaign results of less than three times. That simply doesn’t happen. So, for every campaign under three times they have to have one over three times to arrive at three times. Only fuzzy math will allow them to arrive at a three times pledge to budget ratio.
Thirdly, stewardship firms have always fudged on their math. It was a long a standard practice to lower the amount of a churches budget numbers in order to make the pledge to budget ratio look better. At my former firm we used to take out any giving to missions and the denomination. Our rationale for doing that was everyone else did it. We did it to look better. My guess is that if the company responds to me at all and be sure they do read this, they will worked to cook their books to legitimize their claim. So come on all your stewardship guys let’s stop lying to churches and tell them the honest truth!
What is The Charis Group’s pledge to budget ratio? We believe this is an irrelevant question and we simply don’t track those results. Why? Think about it. Is your church identical to your friends across town or across the state? Every church is different and every church has a different donor make up. Your friend might have a relative of Bill Gates in his church while your members are all factor workers. So comparing your ratio to anyone else’s is simply irrelevant.
None of us know what your true pledge capability is until we look at your giving numbers and talk to your giving leaders. Most firms don’t even bother with this. We do. If you are ready to talk reality and want someone that will tell you straight up the truth contact us.
Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach