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Fundraising vs. Capital Campaigns: What You Need to Know

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Fundraising vs. Capital Campaigns: What You Need to Know

To an outsider, capital campaigns and fundraisers may look similar, if not identical. But congregations that execute the most successful capital campaigns know that they are doing more than just raising funds. Capital campaigns have the power to refocus your church toward its deepest mission and make long-term ministry goals feasible. With the help of electronic giving solutions, church leaders can encourage seamless giving and confidently lead their congregation to prosperity.

Elements of a Successful Fundraiser

Successful church fundraising is an art that many church leaders strive to master. Each year, there is something new to learn or a new technology to implement. Fundraisers are unique from capital campaign in that they typically:

  • occur at regular intervals, such as a church’s annual fundraiser
  • take place as a single event, such as a church auction or gala
  • involve single transactions aimed at supporting the church’s bottom line

A University of Plymouth study revealed the top reasons donors stop giving, with “can’t afford it” and “other charities” being the top two. This means that aside from being low on expendable income, donors primarily stop giving because they’ve found a more promising cause. This is a humbling reality many organizations face when they lose a donor.

The most successful church fundraisers give congregants a clear motivation to give. Simply asking members to ‘support the church’s mission’ may be too vague to spark genuine inspiration, and in the worst cases, may even provoke doubt around the church’s ability to make use of funds. The more illustrative leaders can be, the easier it is for members to envision the future ministry they are supporting.

Church leaders must be willing to demonstrate why the funds are needed. In the case of annual church fundraisers, it’s useful to recap the past year, showing all the tangible ways donor funding has made an impact. Considering ways to say thank you is another practice that helps donors see that their contributions are not only appreciated, but reciprocated. This helps to establish a community of joyful giving instead of obligational giving.

Elements of a Successful Capital Campaign

Capital campaigns and fundraisers share many of the same goals. But a capital campaign goes further in allowing members to partake in the church’s ministry. They draw your community together toward a common goal and shared vision.

Capital campaigns are unique from fundraisers in that they typically:

  • span several years
  • support specific projects rather than general church overhead
  • include a period of private fundraising from bigger donors before going public
  • expand a church beyond its normal operations and introduce something new

Because capital campaigns require extensive planning and foresight, churches can’t jump into them without considerations. Most churches conduct feasibility studies to ensure their plans and financial estimates are doable. This will include identifying donors who are likely to contribute 20% or more of your campaign goal. These donors are critical to the success of your campaign as they compel others to give and inspire hope in the campaign’s mission.

Laying the Groundwork

Before getting started, churches will need a high-functioning board of trustees as well as volunteer leaders who can preach the mission of the campaign. Churches must gently assess the personal commitment level of each of these individuals. Without a core team of people who are clear on their role, capital campaigns can run out of steam midway. Many churches hire experienced capital campaign consultants to work with the board, guide the communications strategy, and manage volunteer efforts, keeping everything on track.

Communications staff must share the plan with the congregation in bite-sized pieces, regularly posting campaign news as things progress. Successful churches treat capital campaigns like traditional marketing campaigns, selecting a logo and slogan. Materials like brochures, pledge cards, and letters will also need to be drafted by a team member with excellent written communication skills. As with any marketing campaign, it is critical for the church to maintain the “brand” messaging originally chosen. Keeping this alignment prevents confusion and helps your congregation stay tuned in as the months go by.

Once fundraising is complete, churches often host celebrations marking the completion of the campaign. At this time, church leaders can choose to spotlight some of the biggest donors and express gratitude. Whether your church is seeking building renovations, equipment for new programs, or endowment contributions, a successful capital campaign can make dreams a reality.

Electronic Giving Solutions for Churches

While capital campaigns and fundraisers are unique from one another, churches use many of the same channels to get the word out. Social media has become a standard fundraising tool, while many churches create dedicated campaign websites, leverage member testimonials, and host events. Providing multiple giving avenues is another key way churches are branching out.

Electronic giving solutions have grown increasingly necessary as organizations rely more on digital community-building. A charitable giving study showed 54% of nonprofit donors prefer to give online. 40% of millennials and 49% of gen x’ers reported being enrolled in a monthly giving program. Meanwhile, baby boomers were still responding to direct mail giving prompts, but once they moved to electronic giving, they stuck with it.

Apart from these wider trends, individuals have their own unique preferences and tendencies for charitable giving. One may be comfortable and inclined to use a mobile giving app, while another may view it as tedious. Sometimes conversing with donors one-on-one is the quickest way to illuminate these hidden preferences. While there will be many differing opinions, leaders may begin to see patterns emerge within the feedback.

Whether fundraising or embarking on a capital campaign, churches that employ electronic giving solutions can raise both one-time donations and recurring giving revenue. When the giving process is tailored to the needs of your donors, increased participation is a natural byproduct. The Donorwerx platform offers an end-to-end solution for churches that seek to simplify their giving infrastructure. With customized software, churches can automate messaging campaigns and get a clearer picture of the story their data is telling. Learn how it works.

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