One of the biggest landmines you have to navigate in picking a firm to help with your next campaign is the changing field of capital campaign companies. Just last week learned the leader in our industry for almost twenty years, RSI, had been purchased by another firm. It brought to mind that once thriving companies can almost overnight cease to exist. Think TWA and Pan Am in the airline industry or Enron in the energy industry. In America nothing lasts forever even stewardship firms.
RSI was the largest capital campaign company in America for years. Arguably no other company raised more funds than they did. When I worked for another firm one of our goals was to supplant them as number one. My former boss never achieved that notoriety and even he sold his stewardship firm that has since been sold again. What lessons can we learn from this?
Nothing lasts forever! Every company must change with the changes of society or that company will cease to exist. The same is true for the Church. While our theology never changes our methodology must. The same is true for companies in my industry. How we did campaigns in the last century is different from how we do them today. At least we should have changed our strategies. If the company you are talking to sounds like they are stuck in the 20th century you may need another firm to talk to.
Competition in my industry has made the industry better. Last week I was blessed to win a contract from a church that interviewed three other firms. Each of those firms were good companies. I knew two of the men who made presentations. I even ran into one as he was leaving his presentation before my presentation! When companies compete against each other they strive to get better and the Church benefits.
You are hiring a consultant not a company. I never worried how big RSI was or any other firm. Churches were talking about hiring me not my firm. I work under the banner of my firm as do all my consultants. Yet the value we bring to the table is OUR experience and wisdom not the collective knowledge of a company. For you the questions are about the consultant in front of you not simply the firm they serve under.
A company provides support and resources that individuals can’t. There are a few guys out there that do campaigns on the side. The question is always what happens if they get sick or die? That does happen! So, where would you be? I believe the best partnership you can have is with a company that has multiple consultants. That way your consultant is covered if he falls ill. So is your church. Companies are better enabled to meet your long term needs than the former pastor next door.
You need a strategic partner not a program. Most pastors know the basic elements of the campaign process. As I say, “how hard is it to put together a prayer team?” Programs don’t raise dollars a compelling vision that is well crafted and communicated does. My industry is slowly changing the focus away from building irrelevant teams to providing true strategic consulting.
More stewardship firms are coming to emphasis total stewardship not simply focusing upon a capital campaign. I tell clients that I am just as concerned about this week’s offering as I am helping them raise funds for that new project. If you can’t pay salaries and the light bill what good is a new facility? Slowly but surely my industry is providing overall giving help working to produce a culture of generosity. If you are looking for a campaign partner look for one that understands the difference between meeting budget and raising capital dollars AND has a plan to help you do both.
I have to admit that I am saddened by the sale of RSI. They were a good company and I knew many of their key players. However the sale will produce for you the Church a better product. As for The Charis Group, we are not for sale and I do plan on being here for a long, long time!
Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach