How to Avoid Wasting Time With a Capital Campaign

How to Avoid Wasting Time With a Capital Campaign

If you are about to start raising funds for a project you need to know how to avoid wasting time with a capital campaign.  “Wait,” you say.  “Shouldn’t you be trying to convince readers to have a capital campaign?  Yet here you are talking about wasting time with a capital campaign?”  Am I crazy?  That might depend upon who you ask!  Some in my industry think I am crazy.  I can assure you that I am not crazy but I do try to think differently than others not to make myself distinctive but to make myself more effective.

After over 20 years of working with churches all across America from the largest to some of the smallest I can tell you that…

Most churches waste their time with a capital campaign!

Don’t get me wrong.  Capital campaigns can be effective tools towards raising additional money for churches.  The fault is not in capital campaigns.  The fault is in how we go about capital campaigns.  We are going about it wrongly and thus in the end wind up wasting the churches time.  Here are two of the major mistakes churches are making…

They are trying what worked in the past without realizing we live in a new day.  Hello, COVID-19 changed all that! I say, “If you always do what you have always done you will not get what you always got.”  That might be poor grammar but society has changed.  Our message, The Word of God, is eternal and changeless.  How we communicate that message has changed.  Has your approach or the approach of the capital stewardship company you are talking to the same as it was in 1980?

After seven years of working in the stewardship industry I started asking why.  I looked at every element of a capital campaign and like a three year old I asked, “Why do we do this?”  The answer I received more often than not was, because that is the way we have always done it!  The more my former employer dug in to defend 1980 methods the more I began to see the need for a better way.  Times have changed and how we do capital campaigns has changed as well.

The question you should be asking is, “Does the campaign process we are running match the culture, character, and make-up of our 21st-century church?”  If the answer is no, you are wasting your time!

They focus on the wrong people.    A capital campaign is not about increasing givers.  It is not about making those that are not giving much now to your church give more.  Don’t confuse a campaign to raise funds with a campaign to increase giving and givers.  They are not one and the same.  It is time we realize that the few will always give the majority.  Our extensive financial analysis of church giving from nearly twenty years shows on average 15% of a church’s donor base gives half of all the money given to the operating budget.  I recently shared the following chart with a church to show them this.

ChurchBudget Size% that gave 50% of Budget# Giving Units% that gave 50% to Capital Campaign# Giving Units
Church A$2.6 million13.21007.255
Church B$789K15.9377.317
Church C$715K15.9398.621
Church D$546K16.1405.614
Church E$308K19.7257.19
Church F$26215.9177.58
Church G$251K16.42011.514

Looking at giving data we have found that, half of those that give half will give half of what is given to your capital campaign.  Amazingly the other half of the 15% of a churches top donors give 30% to 40% of what is given!

Yet most churches spend their time in a campaign chasing those that are not now currently giving much if anything to your church.  While we work with churches to get everyone to give something to their capital campaign we focus our time where we have the greatest chance for success, your leaders.

The question you need to be asking yourself is, “Are we focused upon the right group that can help us achieve our targets in this campaign?”  If the answer is no, you are wasting your time!

You only get one chance to get your campaign right!  Your project is too important for you to fail.  You are too busy already to waste time on the wrong process or by talking to the wrong group of people.  We can help keep you focused in the right direction and thus save you from wasting your time.  Call us today!

Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach

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