There are 6 mistakes that will cause a break down for your next capital campaign. When you take a road trip the last thing you want is to be stuck on the side of the road. Ignoring basic steps of care for your car could see you delayed from reaching your intended goal. The same is true when it comes to capital campaign plannings. There are six major mistakes churches make that cause break downs on the road to raising the funds needed for their project. Here are the six…
1. Not planning far enough in advance. Perhaps it is the tyranny of the urgent but too many churches do not start the planning process early enough. I believe you can never start soon enough. Long range planning is not twelve months out. For a project it is about twenty four months at least. That is the planning time line not the project development time line! So it might well be later than you think. Start planning now!
2. Over simplifying the process. This is why mistake number one is number one. Too many churches do not understand the complexity of project development. I have a client that it took ten years of hard work to finally get the city to approve their project! There are so many land mines out there that can blow your leg off. It is much more complex than you think. That is one reason you need outside professional help.
3. Over selling the potential to be raised. I talked to a church the other day that told the congregation they could raise $4 million dollars. This was two times their operating budget. In their last campaign three years ago they did not raise one times their budget. They minister in a state still ravished by the economy, with a declining membership and offerings. Why in the world would they “sell” the idea that they could raise that much? They are trying to do just that, “sell” the congregation with overly optimistic projections so that the members would vote for the project. What if they “only” raise $3.5 million? Will they scale back or put off the project. Be careful what you promise on this side of the river.
4. Under selling the cost. Trust me it will take you longer than you think AND cost you more than you want. If an architect is telling you it “might” cost around $3 to $5 million I would use the high number not the low number. You might want to avoid sticker shock with your congregation but if the final tab is over what you promise you lose change out of your pocket with your members. The next time you make a decision they will remember how you missed it on the last decision. They might even accuse you of misleading them!
5. Sequential thinking. I once asked a potential client, “Have you talked to the bank yet?” The reply back was, “How can we talk to the bank when we don’t have the final estimate from the architect?” I replied, “Do you at least have an estimated range of cost?” The answer was yes. I again pressed the need to find out if the range of cost was something they could successfully acquire from banks. The problem that many churches have is that they view project development as happening sequentially.
Much of this blame might be that we preachers tend to preach that way. Point number two follows point number one and so on. When it comes to project development we can’t think about what in our minds is step three until steps one and two are finalized. Indeed projects do have a sequence to them. However you have to be thinking on multiple levels to be successful. My wife regularly beats me in Scrabble because she thinks one to two steps ahead while I am thrilled to spell pig. A good partner can help you think in advance avoiding the mistakes of sequential thinking.
6. Going cheap. More mistakes are made here by church leaders wanting to hold the cost down. Remember the old adage, “You get what you pay for?” The same is true for project development. I once had a stewardship committee member tell me that his church ran their own campaign the second time and raised one million dollars less. Get help. The fee you pay will be more than made up by the funds you raise.
Making any of the above mistakes will cause a break down on your way to seeing your project funded. When your car breaks down it does not mean you will never get where you were going. It does mean however that it will take you longer and cost you more. Our goal is to help you stay on the paved road without breakdowns so that you get there faster with a smoother ride. Avoid these mistakes and you might even enjoy the ride!
Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach