f your next campaign is going to be successful you need to understand the new trends in capital campaigns. Whether we like it or not the times have changed. Now, as a result of the past recession and the slow recovery capital campaign results are dramatically different than a few years ago. Add to this the changing demographic of churches and you have a much changed landscape than in the past. One crucially important thing for any church is to have realistic expectations.
There are two major trends we are seeing in capital campaigns. Knowing these trends can help you avoid disappointment or inaccurate forecasts of your giving capability.
First, pledging is less than before the Crash of 2008. Since 2008 the mood of the country when it comes to the economy has been one of angst and uncertainty. This has caused people to be much more conservative in what they pledge.
Another part of the lagging economy that has impacted campaigns is the volatility of the Stock Market. Many top end donors give through stock and with the Markets wild and unpredictable performance many fear giving through this means. Add to this that your Senior Adult population worries about outliving their nest egg AND that nest egg is making far less than anticipated. One donor in a church recently told me, “I retired in 2002 and the Stock Market has not been my friend. On top of that I am worried about outliving my money and being a burden upon my children. I would like to commit more but honestly, I simply can’t.” I hear this all the time from Baby Boomers and from what is left of the generation above them.
On the other end of the age spectrum younger donors feel that they will never have what their parents have. They have a far less enthusiastic view of the future and you can be assured this will impact what they pledge.
Secondly, fewer people will make a pledge to your capital campaign. Think about it, you are going to put a two or three year commitment card in someone’s hands and they are not even sure they will have a job in two to three months!
Let me illustrate with some real results of current campaigns we are working on.
Church A: A UMC church with a $600K budget pledged 1 times their budget 3 years ago with 96 pledges and 181 people giving without a pledge!
Church B: A Christian church with a $600K budget pledged 2 times their budget 3 years ago with 119 pledges and 70 people giving without a pledge!
Church C: A contemporary SBC church with a $1 million dollar budget pledged 1.5 times their budget 2 years ago with 196 pledges and 126 people giving without a pledge!
Church D: An SBC church with a pledge total of $3.7 million 3 years ago from 480 pledges. Yet 700 people gave to this campaign without a pledge!
The numbers above differ from church to church depending upon what type of project they were raising money for. What did not changed was the reality that in many cases more or nearly as many donors chose not to sign a pledge card and instead simply gave as they felt led. You can expect similar results for your next campaign!
Here are some take a ways from this…
Be realistic about what your giving potential is. Most churches have an unrealistic view of what their campaign giving potential is. This can lead you to other mistakes.
Be careful what you promise. One of the biggest mistakes churches make is telling the congregation more will be raised than is possible. Set a realistic target and a plan for ultimately raising what you need over time.
Realize that the campaign cycle lasts a full two or three years. Those 700 that gave in example D? They gave because we worked with this church to craft a good follow up plan that engaged non-pledgers.
Don’t get discouraged and give up on your dream. The question is not can you raise X,Y or Z. The question is how long will it take you? It might take you two to three campaigns but you can raise the amount needed.
Make sure you have a campaign partner that understands the times we live in and what your church must do. If you need that kind of partner we are that kind of company!
Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach