One of the frequent questions I am asked is, “How many years should a campaign run?” It is a good question. The answer as with most every question is, it depends. There are many factors that go into deciding the right length of time for your campaign.
Let me give some rules of thumb that might be helpful as you think about how best to answer the question for your church.
- The smaller the amount needed to raise the shorter the time span needed. I typically advise that for any amount that is 25% or less of your annual budget you might only need a one year campaign. Conversely…
- The larger the amount needed to raise the more time span needed. Your donors can give a larger amount over time than they can in a short time. However,
- Any campaign longer than three years is typically too long. In our fast paced ever changing society a lot changes in three years! Churches change with each passing year. Sometimes the pastor moves. Sometimes many of the people move. Often those that stay have lost the original reason and passion for why you held the campaign in the first place.
The Cons of a long campaign – Here is what I wrote a few years back when a church wanted to know about a five year campaign.
Five years is a long time in a church. A lot can change in five years including the pastor! Even when a pastor stays five years there still are major changes that can and will occur. The vision you cast to get people to give for five years might not be the vision you have four years into the campaign. For that reason three years or fewer is more appealing to most churches.
Five years is a long time to keep passions high. To keep people giving you have to keep them passionate about the vision you asked them to give to. The typical church struggles with this. As a result of poor follow up and failing to continually focus on the vision giving drops off. A shorter campaign forces churches to recast the vision and thus keep the passion high.
Five years of growth means more new people. Hopefully in five years you are adding additional members. While this is good the fact is that it is hard to get someone new to make a commitment to your campaign after the intensive period has transpired. New campaigns, either one, two or three years in length, give you a better opportunity to capture those new people. Asking new people to commit to your existing campaign is simply more difficult even with good follow up.
Those at the lower end of the giving segment don’t do well in long term campaigns. The reason this is true is that often this group is comprised of those that are less committed to the church and its vision. This is the group that tends to move their attendance from one church to the next almost on a whim. Of all the giving segments that we track this one is the least reliable in terms of fulfilling any commitment they make no matter what the length of the campaign.
No matter what length of time you run your campaign you must understand that the campaign does not end with the commitment card collection. That is only the end of the intensive part of the campaign. The real campaign, collecting the dollars, starts the day after the commitment cards come in. Keeping the vision front and center throughout the length of the campaign, whether three, five or even one year, is the key. That is one of our areas of expertise. We stay with a church to the end whether it is two, three or five years!
Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach