The Church Capital Campaign Journal: Eleven Core Insights for Preparing, Implementing, and Completing Your Fundraising

Chapter One

Eleven years ago, I was involved in my first church capital campaign.  I was a consultant, and I remember this first project well.  One project led to another, and then another, and then, the recession came along.  Campaigns were nowhere to be found.  However, around 2011, church capital campaigns burst through the gate again and started spreading across the United States.  Today, it seems that every church that hasn’t had a capital campaign since 2011 is either in the midst of one or giving strong consideration to begin campaign preparations.

Campaigns do require preparation—a lot of it.  The value of preparing well is an awareness I have developed over the last eleven years of consulting and coaching church leaders through capital campaigns. In fact, I have four insights I will share today on preparing well.  Over the next several posts, I will be communicating a total of eleven insights as a way of commemorating these eleven years I have been working in the campaign field.

On preparing well:

1)     Before you campaign, make sure you study.  Most campaigns are prefaced by a Feasibility Study.  These studies give you the opportunity to involve the congregation in the planning and approval of the project before it progresses into an actual campaign.  In addition, studies provide you the opportunity to get an idea of how much funding your congregation will be able to provide in a campaign.  Having this information ahead of time is critical as it gives you the chance to establish a realistic campaign goal.

Studies are not perfect.  They will not always predict the exact amount you can raise, but they are a tool for effective preparation.

2)      Don’t proceed with a campaign if members are not unified around the project.  If a high percentage of members are not in agreement with the plan, don’t proceed.  Instead, return to discernment and leadership discussions.  Prayerfully consider the feedback from the membership and allow this feedback to guide the next steps.

3)     Discern and define the Why.  I take church leaders through a creative process that helps them determine their why.  Together, we answer questions such as:  “Why are we called to fund this project?”, “Why is this campaign/project a path for helping us live out our community values and mission?”, “Why is it more important for us to fund this project rather than to not do it all?”, and “Why should we invite our members to share more financial resources with the church?”

4)     Choose the leadership team well in advance of the campaign.  If you are thinking of facilitating a campaign in the next year or so, begin identifying your leaders now.  Don’t wait until they have been asked to serve on another ministry team or in the community.  Ask them now before it is too late to ask.

Prepare well.  This is my first directive for those church communities considering a capital campaign.  In tomorrow’s chapter, I will share four more insights which will help you implement and manage a healthy campaign process.

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