If you are about to enter into a capital campaign I want to share with you 5 reasons why you should lower your expectations. Forever stewardship firms and even banks and builders have told churches that the average they could raise in a capital campaign was between 1 1/2 and 3 times a churches annual operating budget. Those norms, if they were ever true, are not the norm today.
“What are you guys seeing in campaigns?” That was a question a loan officer with a major national lending firm asked me last week at a conference. My reply was, “A good campaign in America today is one times a churches annual operating budget.” “Thank you,” he exclaimed, “that is what we are seeing and telling clients.”
Can a church raise more than one times? Sure we just had a church raise over six times their annual operating budget. Please understand this church with a $350K budget had one $500K gift, one $450K gift and a bunch of other six figure gifts. Do you have that kind of donor base? If not we need to adjust to the new normal.
Why is pledging less today than in days gone by? There are multiple reasons for the lower pledge totals but here are the key few that we hear from donors.
- The Great Recession continues to impact the mood and feel of your key donors. It all seemed to happen so fast. Suddenly our 401K’s were 201K’s or worse. Donors now seem to be looking over their shoulder for the next crash and their confidence has been impacted.
- The slow economic recovery has donors worried about the future of their investments. These two points are tied together but what is now a concern of major donors is the question of IF they will be able to recoup any major gift or will that impact their future retirement?
- Your biggest donors are aging rapidly and are worried about outliving their money. In the past eight years I have interviewed countless people who once were six figure donors but now worry they will run out of money as they are living longer. Thus their ability to give is lessened.
- Baby Boomers are entering into retirement. Baby Boomers give more dollars than any other generation. Yet 10,000 of them turn 65 every day and will for the next 20 years. Those that are your prime donors and who pledge the most are moving into a more fixed income future. This is impacting the amounts they pledge.
- Younger generations are less embracing of building campaigns. Your Millennials will give to drill wells in Africa but they are likely to pass on helping you build your next facility. You will need to work hard to ensure that all generations rally to support whatever you feel led to build.
Don’t lose hope but please be realistic! That is my advice. The question is never how much can you raise. The real question is how long will it take for you to raise the amount you need? It will probably take you more than one capital campaign but you can see good results with a compelling vision.
Raising dollars today is not easy. This is one major reason you need help. We are here to provide that help!
Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach