Preparing Your Church for a Capital Campaign

Capital campaigns are a vital component to a church’s development and longevity. Changes and additions to the structure of your building often serve as the physical manifestations of a congregation’s deeply held beliefs and goals. But the many moving parts associated with a capital campaign can cause leaders to struggle and become distracted from their initial goals. The following considerations will help you run a successful campaign from start to finish.

Step 1: When (Is it the right time?)

Before even getting started, church leaders need to be certain they have the time, resources, and energy to put toward a major project such as this. New churches are better off spending time establishing themselves before leaping into a costly and complex capital campaign. Similarly, a church with a donor base whose giving capacity is limited may want to hold off.

A church that is well-established with a strong core of engaged members and flourishing programs may want to embark on a campaign to expand its capabilities – creating and sticking to a capital campaign timeline is key. The clearest indicator that your church is ready for a capital campaign is this: You have a solid donor base, a clear mission, and respected leaders at the helm. In a church like this, the only thing holding it back is a need for new structures and resources to support forward movement. The question then becomes: what structures and resources?

Step 2: What (What would catalyze your mission?)

There’s no reason to initiate a capital campaign without extensive planning and research. Church leaders need to decide what purchases are justified and why. Online giving software can provide the data and demographic information needed to make accurate assessments about donors. A few vital questions include:

  • Has the size of our community grown or dwindled?
  • How is our building failing to meet the growing needs of our community?
  • What aspects of our church have been neglected?

One of the greatest benefits of a capital campaign is the infrastructure it provides a church. The mere act of taking on such an endeavor reflects a deep commitment from both staff members and volunteers. A successful campaign requires a commitment from the board, software for campaign management, gifting policies, and electronic giving solutions. Once in place, all of these elements build a stronger, more sustainable congregation even if the campaign fails to hit its financial goal. Churches that build this infrastructure tend to achieve higher annual revenue from recurring donors. In addition, church leaders become adept at conversations around planned giving, helping donors understand what’s in it for them.

Step 3: Who (Who will be assigned what tasks?)

Creating a core capital campaign team will ensure no essential tasks slip through the cracks. This is not the time to shy away from conversations about strengths, weaknesses, and interest levels. Staff members and volunteers can serve key roles in getting your capital campaign off the ground. But it is critical to establish those roles clearly and communicate what each role entails. Once this is determined, teams must meet regularly to ensure each person is able to fulfill the objectives of their role.

Churches often hire experienced consultants to spearhead campaigns from start to finish. Consultants are equipped to handle fundamental tasks like conducting a feasibility study, holding team meetings, training church leaders, and researching prospective donors. Consultants can provide valuable insight into what strategies have worked for other churches.

Step 4: How (How will your church use the money raised?)

Church leaders not only need to plan out how they will raise funds – e.g. pledge cards, cases for support, and brochures – but also how they will use the funds. It is not enough to say that the children’s area will be redesigned. Leaders may need to compile contractor estimates, sketches, permits, and other bits of information to ensure a smooth project.

It is important to have a transparent plan and share news with the congregation as you work toward your goal. Keeping donors up to date is one of the most important, yet underestimated aspects of capital campaign success. If your donors can’t see how you are using the funds they donated, the project lacks follow-through. This common capital campaign pitfall can lead to donor disengagement, or worse, distrust and disillusionment. In other words, communicating the plan is just as important as executing the plan.

By acknowledging both big and small donors, your church can reach its target and launch into a new phase of congregational development. Capital campaigns can act as magical catalysts fostering excitement, hope, and strategic change in any organization. With campaigns averaging between 1 and 5 years, it’s important to be sure you are ready: Know who, what, when, and how to ensure the most successful campaign possible.

Interested in learning how electronic giving solutions can significantly boost church revenue and recurring donations? Learn more.

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