There are many ways to lead a capital stewardship campaign in a local congregation. I have led and assisted leading 4 campaigns of varying length and amounts. Some were done completely in-house and some engaged a paid consulting company. There are many great companies that for a fee can help you. While their goal and selling point anticipates raising a higher total with their assistance, my personal experience didn’t validate that claim. In my experience, the ratios were about the same either way.
A capital campaign hinges on building momentum in your congregation. It is not really about the actual “financial ask.” It is actually more about the “participation ask.” So in a campaign, the goal is to get people to become invested in the process as participants.
1. Building momentum towards a participation ask is done corporately through sermons highlighting the vision and generosity. Congregants want and need to understand the vision, as well as, how this will impact the mission of the church because debt retirement alone isn’t compelling enough for people today. Detailed information needs to be prepared for visual presentation in these conversations, sermons, and meetings. Pastors also need to talk about stewardship, tithing, & generosity and what is possible as we all work together. My experience is that tithing actually increases also. It will be best to send a letter with inserts to your partners and regular attendees after your initial congregational presentation. There are always people who are absent and this will draw them into the loop. Additionally, children and teens can also be integrated into the communication of the vision, teaching, & giving. Finally, encourage everyone to participate in some way; Equal sacrifice not equal gifts.
2. Building momentum towards a participation ask is done in smaller groups by recasting the vision and providing a forum for people to ask questions. Host smaller groups to provide an intimate setting for Q&A. Groups should be distinctly different and separate. Typical groups could be a) staff, b) Church Council, c) other key influencers d) any special group that may directly benefit from the project (i.e. parents of teens), AND e) other key demographic groups (i.e. singles, seniors)…etc. The small group meetings should center around dessert or appetizers as a means to recast the vision (abbreviated) and open up for Q&A. If people seem shy to ask a question, ask them what kinds of questions or comments have they’ve heard so you will know how to help others.
3. Building momentum towards a participation ask is done individually by asking people to serve in a role within the campaign, as well as, support it financially. First, ask people with the gift of hospitality to participate by hosting a small group in their home for one of the intimate Q&A small groups (above). Second, ask people with marketing gifts to participate by creating your campaign brand including theme, logo, printed brochures, commitment cards, PowerPoint slides, etc. Third, ask people with social media skills to help you create powerfully inspiring posts (words, pictures, & 60-second videos) Fourth, ask people who are intercessors to participate by praying daily and giving daily prayer points to the social media team. Fifth, ask people who like to serve clerically (i.e. folding bulletins, etc) to participate by preparing a bulk mailing (letter above) to your partners and regular attendees. Sixth, meet with key influencers individually to thank them for their ongoing leadership and ask them to participate by helping you lead by example and with influence. Finally, meet with key contributors individually to thank them for their ongoing financial support and ask them to participate by helping you by continuing to lead using their spiritual gift of giving. These people typically want to know the real need and how their contributions will impact the future.
CAUTION: It is very tempting to assign many of these individual steps to staff members but this actually defeats the entire purpose of your campaign which is to build momentum through participation.
Vital Care & Counsel is ready to assist SED pastors & churches as they navigate decisions in these areas and others. For additional info contact Paul Glenn directly firstname.lastname@example.org or his cell 704.239.0569.