I am about to start my nineteenth year of working with churches and I one thing I can tell you is that good capital campaigns take time. How much time depends upon the project and the amount you need to raise. Just know that the more time you give towards planning and preparing your campaign the more likely you are to experience success.
Your average campaign is typically trying to raise at least more than half if not more of your annual operating budget. This is not like passing the plate to give money to some crisis. To reach the level of giving you need for a project or to pay off your last project is much larger. So the more money you want to raise the more time you will need.
Perhaps the number one mistake churches make is not giving themselves enough time in the planning and preparation of their campaign. Far too many wait until the last minute. Then they throw things together and hope for success. What I find amazing is that for other major endeavors in the church we plan much better. Consider how much time and planning you put into VBS this past summer. How much time and planning did you put into your last mission trip? If we know those endeavors take time and planning why are capital campaigns always given last minute planning?
Here are some of my observations of why churches don’t give proper time in planning for their capital campaigns.
- Many churches don’t understand the complexities of capital campaigns. Since the Great Recession it has gotten harder not easier to raise money. If you don’t set the stage correctly, you will not have the success you desire.
- The tyranny of the urgent keeps pastors and staff distracted. Capital campaigns are one more thing to do. All too often as other needs press in upon the staff the capital campaign gets pushed back until another day. Before you know it that day has come and gone.
- No one “owns” the campaign planning process. What is not owned by someone does not get done.
- We don’t do what we don’t like or understand. Nearly all pastors and staff hate any and all things related to capital campaigns. So, planning for what we struggle with simply doesn’t get done.
Those are just a few of the reasons churches fail to give time to planning for their capital campaign.
How much time is enough time? That depends. It depends upon what the project is. It depends upon where your leaders are in the process. The more complex the project the more time you will need. Three months is the absolute minimum in my experience. However, six months is a better time frame to give yourself the time you need.
All of the above are great reasons you don’t need to go it alone on your next capital campaign. Churches that try to do it all themselves are the churches that typically don’t give themselves the time they need. A capital campaign is too important not to be successful so give your next campaign adequate time and the right partner to help you through the process.
Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach