If you ask me if you can raise dollars to fund a project or even to pay down your debt my response is, “Yes you can!” We are seeing churches do exactly that in capital campaigns across the country. Here are two examples from recent campaigns we have worked on.
Nick Floyd is the campus pastor of Cross Church Fayetteville, AR and they recently saw $5.4 million pledged for their first facility.
Michael Paulson is the Senior Pastor at First United Methodist Church in Lincoln, IL and they recently raised $400K for much needed renovations.
Both churches raised nearly twice their annual operating budgets. So clearly dollars can be raised even in the midst of challenging times but what are the keys? Let me list what I have found as the keys to campaign success.
1. A properly put together vision of what the dollars will do is crucial for success. Dollars follow vision. For you to get your donors to give you more money you have to have a vision that is clear, concise and most of all compelling. How will raising these funds help your church better fulfill its vision? Make that connection of dollars and vision and your donors will respond. The more compelling the vision the more dollars you will raise.
2. Success is determined by your leader’s response. In every campaign it is the current giving leaders that will make or break the success of a campaign. Our studies show that around 15% of your donors give half of your dollars annually to your budget. Half of this 15% will pledge half of the amount pledged in a capital campaign. This group is the key to how much will be pledged. The better job you do imparting the vision to this group the more successful you will be.
3. There is no substitute for hard work. Both the pastors above put in the time and work to make their campaigns successful. If you are too busy to give attention to your campaign don’t hold a campaign or at least don’t expect success. I tell pastors all the time that they will live for two or three years on the effort they put into the three months of the intensive part of the campaign.
4. First campaigns are your best campaigns. It is the law of diminishing returns that impacts successive campaigns. People will stretch for the first one and sell the bass boat. When the second comes around they no longer have an asset to give they now are giving up more of their income. The more campaigns you hold the less effective they will be. A church has one good campaign a decade or a project. The rest will net you about one times your operating budget or less. So, it is important to get it right the first time.
5. Going it alone will cost you. Capital campaigns are more complex than most think. This is true particularly in the months of planning and preparation leading up to the campaign. Without a partner helping keep you on task and on target you run the risk of misfiring and failing to meet your targets. The price you pay for a partner will by far be made up with more dollars raised.
6. It is not over until it is over. Too many put all their focus upon the pledging cycle and then assume that the money will automatically come in throughout the campaign. Our studies are finding that as much as 20% of what is received comes from those that did not pledge. How will you engage that group so that they will give even if they did not pledge? When you finish the intensive part of the campaign, the pledge cycle, you start the real campaign, collecting what was pledged. So the campaign is not over until you complete the two or three years you asked donors to pledge for. One of the biggest mistakes churches make is not following up on what was pledged.
There is much that goes into a successful capital stewardship campaign. By following the above you too can have a success in your next campaign. Yes you can!
Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach