Church Facility Projects – Preparing for the Capital Campaign

This next phase is all about raising money.  While that may sound unappealing in ministry, the practical reality is any building project will require a significant financial investment.  Thankfully, raising funds doesn’t have to feel slimy or worldly focused.  In fact, this is an opportunity for your congregation to come together to achieve a common vision.  It’s much less about the actual dollars than it is about developing a culture of generosity and rallying around the vision.

We spoke with Brad Leeper from Generis to get his insights on a successful campaign.  Here are his tips for preparing to launch a capital campaign:

Tip #1: Don’t assume people will be in church every weekend to hear multiple presentations about the campaign

Generis recommends a typical campaign (at least the public version) run for about five weeks.  Most people in your congregation will miss a Sunday or two within that five-week window.  Therefore, you need to tailor your communications with that in mind.

Tip #2: Campaigns shouldn’t be boring

Don’t just present a few architectural drawings and expect people to rally around those pictures.  The campaign should be fun, crazy, exciting, and life-giving.  Any guilt trip or sense of condemnation if someone doesn’t give isn’t going to work.  This should be a watershed moment in the life of the church.

You’ll need to infuse the campaign with credibility (hey, they’ve really thought this through), momentum (wow, I can see they already have key leaders onboard who’ve already donated), and energy (this is going to be an amazing building!).

Tip #3: Realize that potential givers will go through a thought process, including the following, before deciding to commit:

  •      “What’s the information?”
  •      “Why are we doing this?”
  •      “How do I participate in this?”

They’ll likely be less concerned about the information and more interested in the inspiration (the vision, the “why?”).  Whether they consciously go through this thought process or not, you’ll need to account for each of these three questions as you communicate with them about the campaign.

Potential Pitfalls to Consider

Keep in mind that church is one of many aspects of an individual’s life.  They have a job, a family, kid’s activities, and more consuming – their mental and emotional energy.  Since most people aren’t giving at a meaningful level now, they may not feel like this campaign applies to them since they aren’t giving anyway.  There’s an unspoken attitude of “why should I care?” that you’ll need to address.

An emotional appeal to rally around the vision will get some people on board.  However, others will also want to hear the practical reasons behind the project.  They want to know if it makes sense to do this project.  Be prepared to inspire and give practical reasons why to capture the attention of the widest audience.

Discuss why this project is critical to fulfilling the mission and vision of your church.  What happens if we don’t do this project?  What happens if I, as an individual giver, don’t contribute towards this effort?

Address why someone should consider prioritizing his/her finances so they can give towards this project.  What are you inviting them to be part of that’s bigger than themselves?  Don’t expect them to figure that out on their own.  Connect the dots for them and help them see why this is an effort worth sacrificing for.

As you can tell, it takes time to build up towards the public facing part of a capital campaign.  Consider the current culture of your congregation and how people will think or what they may ask as you get started.

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