Church capital campaign advice centers on unique challenges not faced by other academic or organization capital campaigns. Churches today may encounter more challenges given declining membership numbers, and the need to re-examine capital campaigns to update an already existing structure, as opposed to a new building. However, there are things every church can do to help maximize its success.
Church Capital Campaign Advice
The Pre-Campaign Phase
Prior starting a campaign, every church needs to take stock of its status in the community, the current congregation, and initiate a membership drive. Every effort to re-paint and re-furbish the existing structure within economical reason should be made first - much like putting the best face on a home before an open house. Then the re-examining of funding for programs that are not working, and inviting the community to help start new initiatives should happen. It is important to remember, unlike an academic institution, a church is dependent on an active, working, practicing, and growing membership. The fatal flaw in most church capital campaigns is a failure to do this stimulus step to not only increase the immediate donor base, but also to generate enthusiasm for a building project. Plan to run a six month to one-year membership drive prior the year you want to start a capital campaign for your church. Remember your goals are to:
- Build membership
- Implement new program initiatives and community support services
- Generate a mood of enthusiasm and excitement for the work and mission of your church.
- Increase public relations efforts to make sure your entire community knows about the growth of the church and the vibrancy of the congregation.
Making the Case for a Capital Campaign
Many churches leave the daily management of the running of the building up to a Building Committee. In terms of a capital campaign, the Building Committee must also begin the scope of its work a year before the campaign is started.The following steps may help lead a church to a greater chance of success:
- Expand the mission of the Building Committee and its membership. The current committee will want to make sure that the legal counsel of the church sits on the committee as an advisor, or that he/she helps to recommend and bring on board an attorney specializing in real estate law.
- Charge the Committee with getting an in-depth examination of the current structure, estimated costs of repairs or re-building drawn up.
- Plan for, hire, and engage a competent architect, developer and landscape specialist to draw up plans.
Any church should recognize the expense of this phase, one that is well worth taking on. It is especially important for a church, as a not for profit enterprise, to show good fiscal leadership and management skills. Every congregation has a right to know exactly how much money is required and how that money will be spent.
The Quiet Cultivation Phase
Phase 2 requires the officiate of the church, along with the Church board members to make private, one-on-one calls to its most generous members of its congregation to solicit support for the campaign in the form of as large a donation as possible. As these donors/members are identified and solicited, they should be offered several things:
- The opportunity to give at a much larger level over a specified time. In order to accommodate their budgets offer a bi-annual or quarterly installment payment plan.
- The opportunity to spearhead a larger funding initiative by having their pledge turned into an amount that is guaranteed only if matched by donations of other members of the congregation. This "challenge" grant can generate considerable enthusiasm among a congregation who will often rise to the challenge of meeting the amount pledged with many smaller amounts.
- The opportunity to have their pledge recognized, if they desire, via a naming of a room or the dedication of a special piece of equipment, and other suitable public recognition.
The goal of Phase 2 is to lead off the public portion of the campaign with a large amount of the funding required raised.
While Phase 2 is going on, the church should establish a Special Capital Campaign Events Committee whose goal is to come up with and run special fundraising events during the public portion of the campaign. The church should also establish a Development Committee to research the possibility of capital grants and community business support in terms of building materials and volunteer donations of goods and time.
The Public Portion of the Capital Campaign
Once all major prospects have been solicited and their pledges made, the capital campaign goes public to the general membership . The goal is to raise the balance of the funds in a specific amount of time.Again, a church will want to create giving opportunities that will extend the mission of the campaign and touch other possible donors. Some suggestions are:
- Encourage tithing at a rate the donor is comfortable with; given today's economic climate this may be only 3-5% above the person's current giving level.
- Make it a family affair by encourage families to raise a pledge amount by giving up something such as cable TV for three months, or collecting spare change, or pledging part of the family's entertainment budget. Create excitement by telling the congregation what various families do and how much they raise.
- Create a program whereby a member/donor can give pledge forms to relatives and friends, and say, in lieu of birthday and other gifts this year, please consider a gift to my churches capital campaign.
Church capital campaign advice is easy to give. By being open to receiving the advice, it can also be more profitable for your church.