Church Campaigns

The church campaign is never easy to navigate, and even more difficult during this hard economic time. As most ministry initiatives can be financially supported by the daily offertory rhythm, there are seasons where God presents greater opportunities to worship through giving.

As church campaigns are usually “divinely driven,” there is definitely a science on how best to navigate the process, being the wisest steward of your time and resources (remember the commendation given to the shrewd manager in Luke 16!).

If you are heading into a season of new and major movement, seeking greater congregational blessing, be reminded of these principles titled, “Key Principles in Planning a Capital Campaign,” by leader extraordinaire, Polly Lott:

  1. Consider a 4-year campaign instead of 3 years. Business leaders who are in a state of change often expect a significant financial return on their efforts in 4 years, but they usually don’t believe they can turn it around in just 3 years. A 4-year option will noticeably affect the size of their gift. 5 years seems too long to most people.
  2. Tell the story and focus on relationships. People give to people, not churches or organizations.
  3. A campaign has 3 stages: The Planning Stage, The Silent Stage, The Campaign Stage. For the leadership, the Silent Stage is the busiest of all. “Silent” does not mean “secret.” You talk about it a lot, but not in large groups. Instead, work ‘overtime’ behind the scenes gathering gifts from major and medium donors. The Campaign stage should begin when 50% has been raised, and should be relatively brief.
  4. Use the term “working goal” instead of announcing the monetary goal of the campaign too soon. People accept the possibility of change if you say, “we’re still in the researching and planning stages, but based on what we know right now, our working goal is _______.
  5. Do not announce the campaign goal until 50% has been raised. The momentum gained by being over the halfway mark is essential. Do whatever is necessary by way of individual meetings and conferences to reach 50% during the “silent stage.”
  6. Expect more “sophisticated donors” in a very large campaign. Sophisticated donors look for big challenges. If you offer them small challenges, they don’t offer large gifts. They are inspired by the chance to make a really sizable difference.
  7. When working with business leaders, make sure every printed page says, “DRAFT.” People like to be part of making a plan come alive. Calling it a draft gives you room for dialogue.
  8. When creating a gift table (chart), the top 10-12 gifts should represent one third. This may be altered later as gifts come in, but it’s a good place to start.
  9. In a church campaign, have peers ask peers. Doctors to doctors, lawyers to lawyers, business owners to business owners, etc. They will respond well to each other’s urging. They also know each other’s financial capacity best.
  10. Key to major donors: capacity vs. inclination, ability vs. heart. You need both on at least some level. Do they have the capacity to be a major donor? Do they have the inclination to give a major gift?

~ by Dave Smith on February 13, 2009.

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