Sooner or later every church faces the need to raise money for facilities–whether to expand, renovate, or repair. Church campaigns are complex, and it is important you get it right the first time.
In our previous post we talked about the importance of making sure your campaign is on solid ground with your congregation. In this entry we will discuss the importance of major giving in a church campaign, and why overlooking these opportunities is mistake #2 in our series…
Mistake #2: Overlooking leadership giving opportunities
While all are created equal, Jesus’ Parable of the Talents reminds us that each are entrusted with differing measures of talent and wealth. Some church members are blessed with substantial resources; others are simply in a stage of life that enables them to give more generously. To succeed with your capital campaign, you will need to secure high-level gifts from these members of your congregation, and it would be a big mistake to assume that they will automatically pledge a major donation without careful approach from leaders of the church.
Major givers account for one-half of the annual giving at a typical church, and an even greater percentage—often 80% or more—in a capital campaign. The expectations and giving patterns of these donors have changed in recent years. It used to be that the first money people gave was to their church. Giving to the church was automatic, while other charities were discretionary. Not anymore. Even though we may not agree with it, today’s reality is that more and more people now consider their church to be on an equal footing with other charities they support; it’s all discretionary giving now.
You must invest time and effort into identifying and engaging the support of potential leadership-level financial partners early in the campaign. Some may argue this places a higher value on wealthier congregants, but this is in fact a Biblical model of fundraising. In 1 Chronicles 29 David leads a capital campaign to fund construction of Solomon’s Temple. He starts by making a generous leadership gift from his own resources, and then prompts the leaders of Israel to follow his lead and give their own major gifts. Once David and the leaders set the standard, the whole assembly responds by giving their own offerings.
1 Chronicles 29:16-17. Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you. I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.
Churches have traditionally conducted capital campaigns very differently from how other nonprofits run campaigns, particularly when relating to major contributors. Conduct a campaign today and you would be unwise to expect major donors to automatically give. They want to hear the vision and see the plans and have their questions answered, preferably by the senior pastor or key church leaders. To be successful in a capital campaign today increasingly requires making personal visits with these major contributors to challenge them to invest in the vision. Take the time to do so and you will be rewarded.
Continue on to our next entry: Mistake #3…
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