3 Common Mistakes that Will Reduce the Success of Your Next Capital Campaign

by | June 1, 2017

2017 is turning out to be a busy year for capital campaigns for a number of churches. I know my office has been busy fielding calls nearly every day from pastors or laypersons inquiring about obtaining help with a campaign. I am running into issues with several of them that are totally avoidable.

“We need to go right now”!
Often times they share how momentum is on their side or that they just had a big church vote or a note is coming due in two months. I always wonder if they did not know all of these things several months back. Now the response I give to these churches is that we can certainly go “right now”! but I sure wish I had more time. Whenever things are rushed, the chance for errors increases markedly. You frequently do not do things as thoroughly or creatively as you might like because the clock is ticking.

If you see even the possibility of a campaign in your church’s future, call immediately. Talk with a professional about timing. The cost to have someone under contract is the same be it for one year or two months. Ideally, you should have this conversation from one year out to no later than nine months out.

“We only want to raise ___________.”
This amount is half of their budget. Why would you want to settle for that? I ask them if they could use two times that and usually I get something like, “Well I guess, but we have not talked about it.” This is a big mistake. For me to raise you ½ your budget will cost you the same as 2-3X your budget. I recommend that we at least test for a higher target. The problem is that once a church has done a capital campaign and declared victory that is it. You cannot turn around and do it again in a year. You are done for a while. Whenever you think you will need a campaign make sure you are trying to reach your maximum potential.

“We need a campaign because we are way behind on the budget.”
You are fishing in the wrong pond. Capital dollars do not fund operating budgets. The annual pocket or better yet the generosity pocket funds operating budgets. You need an entirely different approach than a capital campaign. It may even take longer than a capital campaign, but it will pay long term benefits. You are wanting to sign up for a marathon and you have not yet gotten to where you can walk around the block. Do not focus on the solution until you have fully diagnosed the problem.

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