11 Common Mistakes in a Church Capital Campaign
A capital campaign is a monumental endeavor with many moving parts. Unfortunately, this means a lot can go wrong. Even talented and experienced church leaders can be led astray by insufficient planning or unforeseen complications. Moreover, campaigns depend on the commitment of several parties, which means any individual who pulls out early hurts the campaign.
Thankfully, many churches have undergone capital campaigns, and a wealth of knowledge exists on how to accomplish a fruition one. By being aware of the following common pitfalls, you can lead your congregation through a capital campaign that strengthens your ministry for years to come.
1. Failure to conduct prior research
As one of the most easily-avoided pitfalls, performing research is necessary for determining the likelihood of success. Capital campaign consultants assist churches in conducting feasibility studies to ensure project plans and financial estimates are well-founded. Without research and data, church leaders begin relying on assumptions that may or may not pan out. Meanwhile, you’re losing out on potential donations.
2. Failure to construct a core leadership team
Along with an engaged board of trustees, churches need pastors, staff, volunteers, and a capital campaign committee. Between these parties, church leaders can delegate tasks based on skill and interest level. Above all, each individual needs to communicate openly and honestly about the time commitment they can make.
3. Lack of communication with church members
Especially among members who are less involved at church, there is a danger of disconnection. Without weekly church communications, members can lose track of the campaign and feel uninvolved. Continuously bringing members into the story as it unfolds is key. Churches can blend different mediums to achieve this, such as video updates from the pastor, email newsletters, and Sunday announcements.
4. Vague explanations of how funds will be used
If your church is renovating, can donors envision themselves or others enjoying the new space? If your church is starting a new program, can they feel the emotional impact it would have on the recipients? Knowing how their money will be used is the surest incentive for donors to give. As a result, you should be as transparent as possible.
5. Lack of attention to church giving trends
Not all church leaders have their finger on the pulse. Observing other churches, how they raise funds, and donor responses gives a clear indicator of what might work for your congregation. Without this wider perspective, a church may fail to grow and change with its community. In addition, church admin tools can automate some of the more tedious aspects of running a capital campaign. In other words, failing to notice church giving trends can prove detrimental.
6. Failure to brand your campaign meaningfully
Capital campaign requires all the same components that a company marketing campaign would. Church leaders are sometimes tripped up by this, as many fear appearing “salesy.” However, well-crafted messaging helps you keep donors’ attention and anchor them in the underlying meaning of your campaign. Therefore, branding should be a main goal.
7. Overestimating your average member’s giving capacity
During the feasibility study, churches should carefully consider how many big donors they are likely to have (donors that will give 20% or more of the capital campaign’s target). Inconsistent annual giving in previous years indicates a weaker donor base. In this case, it becomes harder to ensure the church will meet its fundraising goal. To ensure a successful campaign, many churches raise 50-70% of funds privately before announcing an exact funding goal to the public.
8. Running your capital campaign like an annual fundraiser
Some of your donors may be unfamiliar with what makes a capital campaign different from any other fundraiser. Church leaders need to set an example for donors, treating their capital campaign differently. Speaking about the campaign through a long-term lens helps donors conceptualize it as something unique. Coming up with terms and phrases to explain the campaign to donors will help each of your team members stay on the same page.
9. Lack of attention to electronic giving solutions
Research show nonprofit donors are relying more on digital giving each year. With that reliance comes consistency – Donors don’t have to remember to give when automatic payments are set up. Churches can rely on electronic giving in a similar way, reminding donors that capital campaign donations are just one click away. For example, direct links to give through social media, email, mobile apps, or giving kiosks are just some avenues churches use.
10. Failing to engage major donors
Major donors make up the backbone of your capital campaign. Without their support, other donors feel uninspired, or worse, skeptical of giving to the cause. Treat your major donors like core members of your capital campaign team, inviting them into the conversation regularly. For example, having them speak in front of the congregation can help donors realize their role in facilitating the church’s mission.
11. Lack of follow-through once funds are raised
Once the hardest work is finished, church leaders need to make sure they follow through on what they promised. This is the step that ties a bow on your capital campaign, making it a distinct achievement for your congregation. If church leaders leave projects unfinished or forget to give updates, it consequently discourages donors and reduces the likelihood that subsequent campaigns will be successful.
Creating a Fertile Environment for Growth
At the heart of every successful capital campaign lies a promising story of the future of your church. Painting this new picture vividly is what compels donors to give confidently. In addition, the contributions of church leaders and board members communicates to donors that the campaign is a well-supported project – not something that falls on their shoulders alone. While capital campaigns can be breeding grounds for logistical mishaps, the commitment of your participants will create enough momentum to move through these challenges gracefully.
At Donorwerx, we offer end-to-end electronic giving solutions to help churches implement online giving and raise revenue. Our coaching and software solutions will help you develop your donors identify roadblocks in your giving process. Learn more