Getting Ready for a Capital Campaign
6 Things You Can Do Now
In your heart you know you are going to need a capital fund-raising campaign sooner or later. So whether the big decision has already been made, or it’s still a long way off, here are six things you can start on immediately to get your church or non-profit organization ready for a successful stewardship campaign.
6 Things You Can Do Now-
1. Develop a compelling vision. Know what God is calling your church or organization to do and why. Haddon Robinson said, “A mist in the pulpit is a fog in the pew.” If the vision isn’t clear to your key leaders, it certainly won’t be clear to the average Joe. Work on making it clear.
Often it takes time to develop a compelling vision. Dreams don’t fall from heaven full-blown. Talk it over with staff, Board members, and key volunteer leaders. “What is it that God wants us to do? And why? What are the needs and circumstances He has placed us in? What are the problems that need to be solved?”
Your vision will become the basis for your comprehensive case statement or “campaign vision statement.” It needs to focus on people, ministry, and Kingdom challenges . . . not just more space, more convenience, and new buildings. Ask “Who will benefit from this project?” “Is there a wider circle of blessing than just our local congregation or constituency?”
See if you can come up with a list of five good reasons why you need to do this project now. If those reasons are convincing to your members, then you’ve got the basis for a good vision.
2. Build unity. When the vision is clear, begin to build unity around it. Unity is not synonymous with unanimity. 100% agreement is probably impossible. But recognize that successful campaigns are built on a base of broad support.
You will need many advocates for the cause. You will need voices from all sectors speaking positively for the project. Make sure the informal “chiefs” (and not just the official decision-makers) are in favor of the vision God is giving you.
Develop a Great Commission outlook among your leaders so they grasp the “Big Reason” behind the “little reason” for the project.
3. Teach stewardship regularly. Hopefully, if you are a pastor, you are already in the habit of teaching and preaching on the subject of stewardship on a regular basis. A capital campaign is more successful if it’s built on a foundation of years of solid, biblical preparation.
But if you’ve not already developed a culture of generosity, don’t despair. You can still prepare the hearts of God’s people without overtly addressing financial stewardship prior to the campaign itself. Preach on the themes of faith and prayer and lordship. Use this time to cultivate the soil of peoples’ hearts and get them ready for planting the seed when the season is right. The book of Nehemiah is a favorite of preachers who are preparing for a capital campaign. Rick Warren’s Purpose-Driven Life and Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God are also excellent helps.
4. Budget for a successful campaign. Paul reminded the Corinthians that “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Cor. 9:6). So get some seed money into the storehouse early. It’s not wise to borrow for campaign expenses. Ideally you should budget for all anticipated expenses. Common line items include: consulting fees; the production and mailing of campaign literature and other potential communications pieces such as DVDs; celebration events including food costs, facility rentals, and child care; and stewardship teaching materials for individuals and small groups, etc.
Avoid borrowing for these expenses–especially from church members–if at all possible. Asking certain people to give upfront generally reduces the amount of their sacrificial gift later because they feel like they have already given.
5. Review your bookkeeping systems and databases. Many churches go into a major capital campaign with a history of substandard financial record keeping. Do all you can to get this area ship-shape before you launch your fund-raising effort. Every investment in good accounting will pay dividends later. Make sure your bookkeeping software is well-suited for handling new commitments and tracking them separately from other giving.
Then take the time to scrutinize the master contact database, too. Make sure the names, addresses, phone numbers, and emails for all your members, regular attenders, and constituent are complete and accurate. A clean database is vital, but don’t prune the list so severely that you eliminate “fringe” people who might respond positively to a little extra TLC. Sometimes a stewardship campaign can be used by God to challenge them to a renewed vision for ministry and service. After all, people want to be part of a church or ministry that’s going somewhere and attempting great things for God.
6. Get on your knees. Prayer is essential to spiritual success, and a church capital stewardship campaign must measure success in terms that go beyond financial commitments.
Pray for leadership. Ask God to raise up the right leaders with a passion for this vision. Ask Him to supply not only skilled workers but also dedicated and generous givers who will respond to the Holy Spirit’s prompting for sacrificial giving.
Pray for God’s sovereign guidance and timing in every aspect of your upcoming campaign. Call upon Him for divine protection as well, for this will doubtless be a time of spiritual battles and spectacular victories.
Whether your capital stewardship campaign is close at hand or still several months away, these six tips can help you prepare your church. God wants your church to grow. What you do now can help you get ready for that growth!
This article is reprinted with permission from an edition of Excelerator!, which can be found at http://www.excel-ministries.com/