I’m often asked by friends, family members, and churches about capital campaigns – what are they, what do they typically raise funds for, what are the benefits of conducting church capital campaigns, how do they fit with a church’s ongoing fundraising and stewardship efforts, what’s required to get the best results and most benefits from a church capital campaign, and even whether church capital campaigns are biblical. So, here’s my answers to these basic questions.
What Is A Church Capital Campaign?
A capital campaign is an occasional, long-term effort designed to raise a significant sum of money over and above a church’s regular annual giving for a specific major project or purpose.
What Can Funds Be Raised For In A Church Capital Campaign?
Specific major projects or purposes that a church might typically raise funds for in a capital campaign include:
- Land purchases and improvements.
- New building, expansion, renovation, or remodeling.
- Infrastructure and facility maintenance improvements.
- New equipment purchases.
- Debt reduction or retirement.
- Start-up funds for new programs, personnel, mission, and ministries that will ultimately be funded through other means.
- Reserve funds for maintenance and emergencies.
- Endowments to perpetually fund programs, services, ministries, and facilities.
- Other major needs.
What Are The Key Benefits Of A Church Capital Campaign?
The key benefits of church capital campaigns include the facts that they raise funds for important extra-ordinary needs and that have a dramatic, positive impact on the church community in various other ways. In short, they:
- Create an infusion of capital that will help your church meet its needs and realize its dreams and God-given potential.
- Unify members and others connected to your church in a common cause and strengthen their sense of community and commitment to the church.
- Create internal and external focus on your church’s past and present accomplishments and future goals and force your church to do something about reaching those goals more immediately.
- Discover and develop new doers (volunteers) and donors for your church, stimulating those who have given little or nothing in the past to start giving a little extra or something.
- Serve as a catalyst for future fundraising efforts and types of gifts. A successful church capital campaign results in easier subsequent campaigns because you will have conditioned people to accept them as part of your church’s ongoing fundraising and stewardship efforts. And as part of these campaigns, you’ll undoubtedly be educating people about different ways they can make gifts to your church. These gift giving methods will undoubtedly include gifts of securities, personal property, real estate, and long-term legacy or deferred gifts through a person’s will by bequest. And these educational efforts will undoubtedly stimulate many of these types of out of ordinary or “out of asset” gifts, which are often larger than ordinary or “out of income” gifts that the church typically receives. And this will happen both during and after your campaign. In short, capital campaigns are a great experience that should leave a church far stronger – physically and/or financially, spiritually, and socially – and more equipped and excited than ever about doing God’s will and works.
How Do Church Capital Campaigns Fit With Other Efforts?
Capital campaigns are extremely beneficial and a critical component in any church’s fundraising, stewardship, and resource development mix. In fact, a comprehensive and effective financial stewardship effort has four main components:
- An on-going annual giving or financial stewardship effort designed to address the church’s operating needs,
- An on-going major gifts development effort designed to address a churches’ above average operating needs and dreams,
- An occasional capital campaign designed to attract above average and annual support for the church’s extra-ordinary needs, and
- A deferred or a planned giving program, which encourages and educates people about various and very beneficial ways they can make gifts, other than outright gifts of cash.
In short, capital campaigns are, of and by themselves, good stewardship because they enable churches to more quickly and fully realize their God-given potential.
What’s Required To Get The Best Results From A Church Capital Campaign?
Getting the best results and return on investment in a church capital campaign requires operating in a very particular way. There are no shortcuts or substitutes. In fact, studies have shown that there are five essential things a church must have or do to realize their potential in a church capital campaign.
- The campaign must be professionally driven.
- The campaign must be driven by a seasoned specialist, or in other words, someone only does church capital campaigns and has done many successful campaigns for churches before.
- The campaign must be organized and run over a 6-month period minimally. This allows more adequate time for completion of key tasks such as campaign organization, case statement and printed and promotional material development, volunteer enlistment, major and other gift development.
- The director of the campaign must devote at least 30 and ideally no more than 40 days of on-site service to the church and campaign they are directing which will enable them to organize and attend all major campaign meetings and events and personally tend to expert essential tasks previously mentioned including organizational material development; case statement and printed and promotional material development; and key leader and volunteer orientation, enlistment and gift gathering training with maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
- You must ask for gifts in the most proven to be productive and successively successful ways. Asking for and getting the most and most beneficial gifts is part skill and part art that must be learned, implemented, and taught. And in addition to learning how to ask in a way that will produce the most” yes” responses and best gifts, you must also ask for gifts successively starting with the most likely and larger gift prospects and asking them for their gifts in-person first before progressing to asking your next best prospects and utilizing the next best gift gathering methods.
Is A Church Capital Campaign Biblical?
A church capital campaign is most definitely biblical. In fact, everything you do in a church capital campaign, directly or indirectly, involves trying to bring more people to God and your church. Plus, they enable you to better do God’s will through the works of your church. In fact, in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 14-30), God calls and challenges all of us to do all we can with the gifts God has entrusted to us – to make the most of them – and to use these gifts for His glory and the greater good.
Church capital campaigns play a crucial role in helping a church to reach its potential and fulfill its mission. By raising funds for major projects and extraordinary needs through a capital campaign, you will empower your church to address its major needs and realize your dreams. In so doing, you will be able to reach, teach and touch more people and better serve your community. In addition, a well-done church capital campaign will foster a spirit of unity and community among church members and assure that many more members will be more active participants in supporting your shared vision. For more information about church capital campaigns, and specifically, how to prepare for and conduct them in a manner that will ensure their best results, call us at 800-894-3863 or click here to get a free copy of our helpful guide, “Eight Essentials to Realizing Your Church Capital Campaign Potential.” It will help you avoid the many common and very costly mistakes most church make.