Before you start raising funds for that project you are planning you need to know the 8 keys to a successful capital campaign. I get asked all the time how much I think a particular church can raise in a capital campaign. My honest non sales answer is, “It depends.” Here below are 8 key factors you should consider as you plan for your next capital campaign.
- The health of the congregation. In my mind and experience this is the number one key. Healthy congregations willingly give to a campaign. Unhealthy congregations do not. Finding out the issues and potential land mines is essential to the success of a campaign. Most campaigns fail because they fail to take into account the health of the congregation. We attempt to find out what the issues are beforehand with our feasibility studies. Knowing beforehand what the issues are gives you a better chance for success.
- How compelling the vision is. A close second to the above is how compelling the vision is. People do not give to brick and mortar. People give to vision. They want to know that their gift is going to make a difference. Your vision must be clear, concise and most of all compelling. We work with you to craft a vision that sets the stage for success.
- The financial makeup of the congregation. 15% of any church’s donor pool gives half of all that is given. The same is true in capital stewardship campaigns. Those churches that you read about that raised three, four or more times their budget always had significant gifts. If your church does not have those types of members then you need to set a more realistic expectation of what you might be able to do. We can help you with that.
- The pastor’s standing with the congregation. I remember once working with a pastor who wanted to raise significant funds for his campaign. As I laid out what it would take and that we would need significant gifts from those in the High Capacity donor level he told me that all those members had left the church. It appears that they did not agree with the direction he was taking the church. “We are a lot better off without those members dragging down our fellowship and progress,” he said. While that might have been true they took their money out the door and he never raised what he hoped for. If people are not on board with the Senior Pastor you will not have a successful campaign.
- The economy. I am amazed when I see stewardship firms still promising to raise between one and a half and three times the budget in a capital stewardship campaign. In this economy you will do well to go beyond one times your budget. In fact two times the budget is the new three times the budget. Tell me how the economy is in your area and I can tell you a lot about whether your campaign will be successful or not.
- The type of project. Building a new sanctuary usually raises more funds than trying to pay off the debt on the existing sanctuary. Part of the reason these campaigns do so well may be the fact that they typically are first campaigns.
- The number of campaigns the church has attempted. The reality is that each successive campaign is a greater challenge than the preceding one. I call this The Law of Diminishing Returns. Your members will stretch to give in the first campaign often giving out of an asset. Three years later, they are giving not from an asset but by giving more from their income. They simply have less to draw from in successive campaigns.
- The process used for gaining pledges. Sometimes even though the vision is compelling and all other aspects of the church point to success, the process itself trips people up. If the campaign strategy does not reflect the DNA of the church then people tend to push back not only on the process but making a commitment as well.
You can have a successful capital campaign but you need these eight keys in place to accomplish it. We can help you identify and work towards resolving issues surrounding each of these. Successful campaigns are complex and it’s one reason you need a trusted partner to help you. Call us today and we will get started working to build a strategy fit exactly for your church that will lead to a successful campaign,
Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach