There are 5 dumb things done in a capital campaign that you need to avoid! I have a pastor friend who uses the phrase, “Don’t do dumb things.” He doesn’t use the term things however as I will leave the word he uses to your imagination. In the book store of his church you can buy a t-shirt with that slogan on it. While it might come off as crass there is so much truth in the statement. One key to succeed in life is to avoiding doing dumb things. That could not be truer when it comes to capital campaigns. Here is my list of 5 dumb things.
1. Knock on every door. In the last century when capital campaigns were devised you went to every member’s house asking for them to sign a commitment card for the capital campaign. Firms still do this. This practice has left a bad taste with many people. I recently had a lady tell me, “I don’t like capital campaigns.” My remark was tell me what you don’t like and I will probably agree with you. She then stated she did not like that in the last campaign someone came to her house with a commitment card. Her views are the views of 99% of your members. No one wants someone in their house talking to them about money. Don’t do dumb things like going door to door!
2. Holding more meetings. Still today many firms advise you to get as many people as possible working in some aspect of the campaign. The reasoning is that the more people are involved in the campaign the more likely they are to make a commitment to that campaign. So we created all kinds of teams doing frankly meaningless busy work thinking this was the path to maximizing commitments. Prove that with research is my demand. There isn’t any empirical data to prove this claim. Again, this was birthed in the last century when time was not the commodity it is now. Your people have almost eight nights of meetings a seven day week. The last thing they want is another meeting especially one that they think is only about money. Don’t do dumb things like holding more meetings for your already time stressed members.
3. Using the campaign to build regular giving. Once at the stewardship firm I once worked for I heard a salesman tell a church that we would work on getting the other 80% to pull their weight in the campaign. The leaders he was speaking to loved that. The only problem is it won’t happen. Think about it. If someone is only giving you a few hundred dollars a year why would they suddenly give you a boat load of money to your capital campaign? They won’t. If they do they will rob it from one offering plate to put it into your campaign offering plate. Our studies of hundreds of churches reveals that on average 15% of your donors give 50% to the annual operating budget of a church. In a capital campaign half of that 15% will give half of what is pledged to the capital campaign. The rest of the 15% will give up to 40% of the rest of the pledged amount.
We need to stop thinking that holding a capital campaign is the way to build long term giving. Instead put a plan together that will increase giving and givers on a regular basis. Check out my plan at Giving365 weekly giving plan Don’t do dumb things like attempting to increase giving to your annual budget with a capital campaign.
4. Focus on the wrong group. Most firms have you spending nearly all your time attempting to get the “80%” to make a commitment to the campaign. This is putting too much time on a group of your donors that will not respond like the key group you should be focusing your time on. Your leaders, ministry and giving leaders, are the ones that will make commitments. Focus your time in the areas where you will have the most chances of success. It takes skill to know how best to impact this key group. This group will commit up to 90% of what is committed so you need to get this right. Don’t do dumb things like focusing upon the wrong group of people.
5. Spend a boat load of money! Most firms way over charge churches. Most of the money is then spent doing things you could do yourself. How hard is it to put together a prayer team? Do you really need to pay me thousands of dollars to do what you can do yourself? We are one of the few firms that allow churches to break out the various elements of a campaign. This allows you to only pay for what you need for a price that you can live with.
Capital campaigns can be complex and you do need help. The help you get will make your campaign a better experience for you. Yet even with that, don’t do dumb things like spending a boat load of money for things you can do yourself.
We are here to help you avoid dumb mistakes! Call us today and we can get you started down the road of wisdom towards a successful capital campaign.
Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach