Raising Capital in a COVID World

Raising Capital in a COVID World

It is not a great time to be a capital campaign consultant. The pandemic showed us that ministry can happen without a building. Thus, the industry that helped raise countless billions of dollars to pay for those buildings was, for all practical purposes, wiped out in March of 2020. The glory days of capital campaigns are over, and the stewardship industry is scrambling to survive. They were dying before COVID, they just didn’t realize it.

Honestly, my industry never fully recovered from The Great Recession. When the pandemic hit, it put all but a few on the streets looking for any work and hoping next year will be better. So far, that next year hope thing isn’t working so well. It is past time we realize that capital campaigns as we once knew them are gone, never to return. Yet here is the thing. Churches will always need to raise money over and above their yearly operating expenses.

I recently concluded a series of articles for my subscription clients entitled Raising Capital in a COVID World. I’ll share some of the basics of raising capital in a COVID world that I shared with them. First, let me deal with this question,

Are capital campaigns dead? No. What we raise money for might have changed but churches still need capital dollars. Here is a list of the types of over and above dollars being raised:

Renovation – Every leader reading this has a building denoted as the “new” this or that. That “new” building is probably over twenty years old. We have a massive renovation issue facing us.

Repurposing – COVID has forced us to re-think facilities. I believe you will see massive redesigning of space to accommodate Americans’ lingering fears, but also their desire for quality digital engagement. All of this requires money. More than you think.

Adoption/New Campuses – One church with multiple locations, including online, will be the norm not simply for mega-churches but medium-sized churches as well.

Debt Reduction – It’s time to get lean and mean as the old saying goes. Let me replace the mean word with flexible or free. My advice is, build what you need for the next twenty years and then pay off the note as fast as possible.

It is not a question of if you will need to raise capital but when? Can I add one more concern? How?” Everything has changed, including how to raise capital.

Principles Vs. Process – In 2007 I met with an owner of another stewardship firm about potentially purchasing his company and merging it with mine. What kept us from agreeing on a deal was the process of what a capital campaign should look like. It isn’t that the process isn’t important. It’s simply that a principle-driven strategy is always more effective than a process-driven strategy. I help you with the principles of successfully raising capital dollars. The process for you depends upon your culture and context.

With that in mind, let me share with you some basic principles that drive a successful capital campaign. These will apply to any size church’s budget or project amount. It’s what I call,

The Formula for a Successful Capital Campaign – All of what follows needs to be started well before you begin your special giving initiative or campaign. In my over twenty years of helping churches hold capital campaigns, I have found that the majority of mistakes made, happen before the campaign even starts. One of my goals is to help you avoid these mistakes by showing you what you need to know and do before your next campaign.

So, let’s get started by understanding…

The winning formula for a successful campaign is Information + Inspiration + Time = Success. If you want to raise maximum dollars you need to adhere to this formula. Let me break this down.

“People are down on what they are not up on.” A consultant I worked with in the beginning days of the stewardship ministry used to say that to clients. It is true particularly when it comes to people making gifts larger than they are used to.

So, if you want to achieve maximum dollars you need to over-communicate. Inform, inform, and then inform! Whatever you are asking your donors to support must make sense to them. Do you have a plan to carry to completion what you are asking them to give to? To gain the dollars you need, you must fully inform your donors of the what, when, why and where of your campaign.

Touch the heart to reach the pockets of your donors. Donors need to be inspired to give. Your vision must be clear, concise, but most of all compelling.

Here is a truth you MUST embrace! The more compelling the vision is, the more significant the gift will be. To inspire your donors, you must communicate the vision of the “ask” in such a way that their hearts are moved.

Spiritually driven campaigns inspire donors more than anything. You are not raising funds as much as you are raising faith. What separates a non-profit campaign from a church campaign? It should be our spiritual focus. You are asking people to get in on what God is doing. Bathe your campaign in prayer and your donors will more likely be inspired to give to support that campaign with faith-driven commitments. A spiritual journey helps you connect dollars to a vision of changed lives. That motivates giving.

Finally, give donors the time to take the journey. You cannot rush the process and still see success. One of the most frustrating things for pastors and staff is how long it sometimes takes our members to get on board with what we are proposing. Yet, if you hurry the process you risk the results. The bigger the “ask” the more time your donors will need to get their arms around what it is you are asking them to do. So, the more time you give to your campaign, the more likely it is you will raise what you want and need.

If you want to raise dollars remember the formula, Information + Inspiration + Time = Success.

One final thought. Capital campaigns are not dead, they are just different. So, why would you use a process devised in the last century? Principles endure but processes must continually adapt. That is what you pay me the big bucks for! Find out how you can get the help you need for a price you can afford at  https://acts17generosity.com/memberships/digital-capital-campaign/

Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach