One of the most oft asked questions about capital campaigns is, “how much time does it take?” The answer is, it depends. However here is a principle to apply…
The longer time you give to your campaign the greater the likelihood of success!
I typically answer that I like to have six months from start to finish. In some cases it might take less time than that but if you hurry the process you endanger the outcome. In this post I want to share some basic principles that will guide you in your thinking about the timing of your next capital campaign. The timing of your next campaign is different from the TIME you hold your campaign. The TIME of your campaign is dependent upon the calendar. The TIMING of your campaign is driven by other factors that we will discuss further down in this post. So, let’s talk about the calendar of your campaign before we talk about the timing.
There are two seasons for capital campaign, fall and spring. Each of those seasons have windows of opportunity. For the spring the windows are before Easter or before school is dismissed. So you would want the commitment day to be before Easter Sunday or before the summer break hits attendance. For fall you want your commitment day to be before Thanksgiving. You start by determining when you want the commitment date to be and work back from that date to determine your calendar.
Setting the calendar is important to establish the best time for you. Setting the timing is more complex and takes greater thought and care. Here are my principles of timing…
First, the more complex the project the more time you will need. A relocation across town will take more time for your key donors to get their hands around than a simple debt reduction campaign. In fact about the only type of capital campaign that can be done quickly is debt reduction. That is simply not complex even if it is not all that exciting. Yet any other project will need more information provided and you have to give donor’s time to process that information.
For instance as I write this in June I have just completed our initial planning stages for fall campaigns. We started working with churches in April on their vision. In May we did our interviews of leaders for our Feasibility Studies. In late May and early June we met with the leaders of each church to discuss our findings and begin the work of fine tuning the campaign message and process. Planning will continue through the summer months with the intensive part of the campaign starting in August and running through early November. This is a typical time line. For fall campaigns we will start the process with churches in August and September.
Think about your project that you need funding for. How long have you and your team been working on this? You have had time to think, pray and process the impact of the project. For 98% of your members this is all new to them and they need time to get their hands around the complexities of what you are presenting.
Next, the larger the amount needed to raise the more time you will need. When you are trying to raise a large amount of money you need large pledges. Every campaign that raises more than one times their annual operating budget ALWAYS has multiple five and six figure commitments. There is a reason those types of donors can pledge large amounts, they are smart with their money. So, they will need TIME to get their hands around what you are proposing and they might need TIME to structure their gift to you. The more time you give them the more likely they will give you significant dollars.
Capital campaigns are designed to raise significant dollars. The needs they meet are not your pancake breakfast type of need. Capital campaign must be done right to be successful and one of the right things to do is giving time to the process. Realize that…
The larger the need, the bigger the ask, the more time you need to give to the process!
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is starting too late. It is never too late to start planning. Contact us today and let’s get started planning your next capital campaign!
Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach