Embarking upon a successful church capital campaign requires prayer, proper preparation, a clear and compelling vision, and the support and involvement of many members.
A capital campaign is an opportunity for a church to significantly move forward, identify new leaders, and create opportunities for mission and service.
We put together this in-depth preparation guide using our 30+ years of experience specializing with churches.
Walsh & Associates, Church Capital Campaign Specialists, provides a comprehensive approach to capital campaigns, ranging from:
- Help in the planning and preparation stage of the campaign
- Through the conduct of our very valuable fundraising feasibility and planning studies
- The actual implementation and management of the capital campaign through either full-time or part-time counsel.
We believe church fundraising is an important ministry that adds value in various ways to the churches it serves, enabling them to live up to their God-given potential and better do God’s will and works.
What is a Church Capital Campaign?
A church capital campaign is a large fundraising effort performed by a church over a defined time period, raising money for purposes such as expansion, renovation, debt reduction, or maintenance.
Below are 8 steps you should take if you hope to have a successful capital campaign for your church.
8 Steps to a Successful Church Capital Campaign
This article will help in the critical preparation stages for your church capital campaign. Essentially, there are eight important preparation steps that, if followed, will lead to a more successful campaign.
1. Identify Your Needs
The first step in preparing for a church capital campaign is identifying needs.
Identify the major needs that your church can feasibly fund through a capital campaign. These might include:
- Building, renovation or remodeling
- Major deferred maintenance projects
- Debt reduction or retirement
- Establishing endowments to perpetually fund programs, ministries or facility maintenance
The needs you should address in a capital campaign should be non-recurring or occasional in nature and should arise out of helping your church improve ministry and fulfill your mission.
Once you have a firm understanding of your needs and goals, you can continue to step 2.
2. Enlist a Project Planning Committee
Once major needs have been identified, the leadership of the church should authorize the formation of a project planning committee. They will study the proposed project in more detail and recommend a plan for improvement.
The committee should consist of your church’s key leaders and most generous regular financial supporters. It also should include people who bring personal and professional experience or expertise in
whatever projects you are planning. This might include key staff members and volunteers, and even whatever professional expertise may be needed such as legal, accounting, construction, and banking.
If your project is large in scope or involves varied components, various subcommittees related to particular project components may also be needed. These should be staffed with their own experts to plan for these major components.
It may be tempting to handle every step of the campaign yourself, but expertise matters!
3. Develop a Realistic Timeline
The project planning committee should establish a timeline to complete their activities as well as for the actual capital campaign itself.
How long are church capital campaigns?
Allow at least 6 to 9 months for the project planning process, and at least 6 months to conduct the capital campaign itself.
Remember that a successful capital campaign won’t happen overnight. Have patience and don’t try to rush the process.
4. Enlist Expert Assistance
If your project involves building or facility improvements, you should also consider enlisting the help of an architect or design/build consultant. They should be someone who specializes in or has done a considerable amount of work with churches. They should also be adept at leading churches and project planning committees in assessing and suggesting improvements to their existing facilities.
A fundraising consultant, ideally one that specializes in and solely does capital campaigns for churches, also should be enlisted early on (or at least eventually) once the planning process is almost done.
This will help your church raise more money than they otherwise will without a consultant. The additional sums raised will more than cover any additional costs for expenses and fees.
5. Develop/Revise Your Preliminary Plan
Through the project planning committee and subcommittees, and with the assistance of other experts, a preliminary plan for the church capital campaign should be developed and refined. This should be shared with your church membership at large, who should then be invited to meetings and asked for further feedback.
When developing your preliminary plans, remember these suggestions:
- Think big and be bold. People aren’t stirred by minimalist visions.
- Think broad and try to benefit as many people as you possibly can.
- Design to your church’s needs, not to what you think you can realistically afford.
- That being said, keep what you can realistically afford and raise in mind. Campaign expectations are explained below.
- If the costs of the project are likely to exceed these sums, develop a plan that can be rolled out in logical, multiple, 3-to-5-year phases, if needed.
- Be willing to compromise on details but not the overall fulfillment of your church’s vision.
How much money does a church capital campaign bring in?
Campaign projections typically amount to 2-times giving for projects that are predominantly intangible in nature (like plant maintenance, debt and endowment) and 4-times giving for tangible projects (like building, expansion or remodeling).
If the costs of the project are likely to exceed these sums, develop a plan that can be rolled out in logical, multiple, 3-to-5-year phases, if needed.
6. Do a Fundraising Feasibility Study
After your preliminary plans have been developed, shared with the members of your church and then further revised, it is time to do a church fundraising feasibility and planning study. This process shares the (revised) plans with church members and asks for additional feedback, which now should also include people’s suggestions for the capital campaign.
The fundraising feasibility and planning study process should include:
- Conducting a congregation-wide meeting or meetings to present revised plans and to seek member input, questions, and suggestions.
- Consultant-led, in-person, or virtual interviews with your most active and generous members to get their personal and confidential feedback on the project itself and suggestions for the campaign.
- An all-member, online survey, if you feel that it is needed, to give everyone in the church an extra chance to get informed and offer their questions, comments, and suggestions.
7. Make Final Changes
Once the fundraising feasibility and planning study is done, there may be a few additional changes that are needed to gain broader acceptance and support for the project and campaign, which you should make and articulate.
8. Engage Counsel to Launch Your Campaign
It is best to retain the same counsel that helped with the feasibility committee to do the campaign. This is because of the more intimate and detailed knowledge that they – and only they – will have as a result of the fundraising feasibility and planning study (knowledge such as what people said they were willing to give, what turns them on and off, etc.).
Start Your Church Capital Campaign Preparation
If you’ve followed all of these pre-capital campaign preparatory suggestions, you should now be ready to launch a successful church capital campaign.
Getting the best results in your church capital campaign isn’t always or in all ways easy. But it is quite simple if you hire the right help − a firm that always and only advocates operating in ways proven to work and serve churches best.
Walsh & Associates, Church Capital Campaign Specialists, provides the most extensive and effective capital campaign services available to churches that are guaranteed to get the best results possible over all alternatives.