Not all capital campaigns are created equal. When working in the church, it takes a different approach from the secular world and a spiritual understanding of the effort. As you are getting started with a church capital campaign, follow the steps below and you're on the track for success.
Step 1: Feasibility Study
A pre-capital campaign feasibility study offers church leaders a deep understanding of church members. In addition to measuring the likely levels of financial commitments, a feasibility study identifies a congregation’s support for the church, church leaders and the proposed capital campaign. A feasibility study also provides a vital avenue for members to share and dialogue about the church community and the possibility of a campaign.
It's recommended (and often required!) by denominational leaders to do one of these studies before you start your fundraising. We recommend you hire a professional who has experience with the right questions to ask and knows how to analyze the resulting data. Your research partners should provide tailored, comprehensive data, as well as a summary of findings, to allow your leadership to set realistic goals while capturing the valuable opinions and desires of church members.
Step 2: Prayer and Discernment
A capital campaign at a church should differ dramatically from most traditional or secular approaches to fundraising. This work in a church should position internal spiritual reflection and discernment as paramount, not as an afterthought. Your campaign should encourage church members to pray about stewardship and grow in understanding of the blessings the have been given. It is pivotal that the pastor and volunteers design a time and method to engage church members in prayerful discernment regarding the church’s vision and capital campaign, helping to build community and growing a church’s understanding of stewardship. Our church capital campaign management services emphasize prayer over pressure.
Step 3: Stewardship Education and Cultivation
A capital campaign invites church members to heed God’s call and explore their personal understanding and commitment to stewardship through numerous activities. We see so many of our client’s church communities grow stewardship, create a stronger sense of spiritual awareness and a clearer shared vision for the life of their church. Many churches we've worked with report that after a stewardship-based capital campaign, church members deepen their financial commitment to annual giving, become more active and attend services more regularly. Growing stewardship and building community are two of the most powerful results from stewardship education during a campaign.
Step 4: Volunteers
It is essential that you establish multiple teams within the church to envision, plan and execute a capital campaign. These teams focus on general oversight, prayer, education and stewardship, thanks, youth events and communication throughout the capital campaign. It can be helpful to work with professional consultants to train, organize and serve as a resource to each group of volunteers, supporting their work and sharing the load over the course of the entire campaign process.
Step 5: Communication
Throughout a campaign, church members should have frequent opportunities to deepen their understanding of the church’s vision and purpose for undergoing the campaign process. Effective communication tools, like newsletters, brochures and interactive campaign activities throughout the campaign help to accomplish this goal. You want to present these in a visually appealing manner that hits the basics without be overwhelming. Consider infographics and photos of campaign events. Church members should be kept abreast of the church’s vision and campaign purpose from the very start of a campaign following through to the very last pledge payment. Transparency is key!
Step 6: Solicitation of Pledges
Each church is distinct. As such, no single right way exists to solicit donors. The volunteer team responsible for stewardship education should tailor a solicitation process that is comfortable to church members. Who should reach out? Where/how should they meet? Are there specific and tailored materials for your top donor prospects? Research and experience show that a reflective and involved decision to invest in a faith community fills people of faith with a true sense of being a steward. The result of your intentionality with this can be the difference between hitting and missing your campaign goal.
Step 7: Thanks and Celebrating Success
All good fundraising entails appropriate celebration and thanks. Volunteers on the "thanks" team determine how the church will recognize donors and celebrate the achievements of the capital campaign. A unique, meaningful gesture of gratitude, like a thank you note, for those in your community can go a long way in cultivating ongoing support for the full extent of your pledging period.
Thoughtful campaign follow-through bolsters the culture of stewardship that will carry on into your annual appeal and far beyond!
Do you need some specifics on how to implement this approach? Check our our comprehensive e-book on this topic. It's everything you need to know about how to be successful in your fundraising efforts without all the fundraising.