How to Use a Rule of Thumb to Pinpoint Your Campaign’s Gift Potential

by | November 9, 2017

Say you’re trying to figure out the gift potential for a projected capital campaign. You know you can’t simply take a target amount and divide by the number of your church’s giving households to project how pledges will be received. Among other reasons, people are not equally blessed financially. Is there a rule of thumb for how much you can estimate you’ll raise from the different giving groups in your church, and from it to determine your campaign’s gift potential?


When estimating the gift potential of your next capital campaign, remember half of the half will give half.

After years of analyzing hundreds of churches’ giving data, we have identified some trends.

The first trend is that in most any church, 50% of annual funds are contributed by 15% or less of active families.  Because they represent half of your yearly giving, these 15% of households represent your financial leaders.

The second trend is that in a capital campaign, 50% of your financial leaders (the 15%) contribute 50% of your total capital campaign dollars. In other words, of the financial leaders that fund half of your annual budget, half of these households will also generate half of your capital campaign. Half of the half will give half.

The reality is and has always been that a few donors give the majority of dollars in any endeavor.



Here are four examples of the rule of thumb in action.

We took data from four church clients to illustrate this trend.

Church A has a $261,000 annual budget to which 15.6% of active households gave 50% of that amount.  7.5% (about half of 15.6%) of their donors pledged 1/2 of the total capital campaign dollars.

Church B has a $539,000 annual budget to which 15.1% of active households gave 50% of that amount.  9.9% of their donors pledged 1/2 of the total capital campaign dollars.

Church C has a $714,000 annual budget to which 15.9% of active households gave 50% of that amount.  9.0% of their donors pledged 1/2 of the total capital campaign dollars.

Church D has a $2.6 million annual budget to which 13.3% of active households gave 50% of that amount.  7.2% of their donors pledged 1/2 of that total capital campaign dollars.

Additional data from scores of other churches confirms the rule of thumb that half of the half will give half. Financial leaders are key to the success of any campaign. Their leadership gifts will inspire and encourage others in your congregation.

So what do you do about it? Connect with them!


Here are some strategies to connect your financial leaders to your capital campaign.

First, it is important to know who gives 50% of your annual income. 

Often pastors will say they don’t want to know who gives what.  However, generosity is an important spiritual issue and pastors should know how members are growing spiritually. (For more insights on why pastors should know who gives what, download an excerpt from Clif Christopher’s book, Rich Church, Poor Church for free at


Work to build positive relationships with this key group before you ask for a gift.

What are we conveying to members if the only time we meet with them is when we need money from them?  You have to earn the right to ask.  You can do that by regularly meeting with your financial leaders not to talk about giving but to show interest in the things they are concerned about, their families and their business.  Mentor and minister to them spiritually to develop relationships and earn the right to ask when the time comes.


Find out how to connect these families to the vision for your project. 

It’s important to know what questions they have about your project.  What is the level of their support?  Knowing ahead of time what questions, reservations or objections they have will enable you to address them in advance of your campaign. This is an important step in connecting the 50% group to your project’s vision and why a pre-campaign study is vital to your success.


Involve your financial leaders early in the campaign and invite them to establish momentum.

Leadership gifts build momentum showing the rest of the congregation that the goal is achievable if they will do their part.


Value every gift as important.

We must value the widow’s mite contributions equally with the large gifts.  All your members working together will achieve a greater result than what a few can accomplish alone.  Yet without larger gifts you will not raise what you need.


Engaging, motivating, and inspiring those who give 50% of your annual ministry funds will make a significant impact on the success of your capital campaign.


  1. Avatar

    Thanks, Mark! This is very helpful.

  2. Avatar

    Thanks so much for this enlightenment.

    • Mark Brooks

      Thank you for reading the post and commenting. I appreciate it!

  3. Avatar

    Terrific thoughts Mark! Simple, easy, it is a great guide!

    • Mark Brooks

      Frank, I appreciate your comments. Thanks for reading. Come back often as we try to keep writing posts that are informative and helpful for the local church.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Everything you need to inspire generosity.


4 Disturbing Trends Behind the National Decline in Church Giving

Church Giving Realities

Charitable giving has consistently risen from less than $150 billion to more than $400 billion in the US over the last 40 years. Yet, last year individual giving fell by 3.4%, charitable giving fell by 1.7% (inflation adjusted), and sadly, inflation adjusted giving to churches fell almost 4%.


What do these giving realities mean for churches?

If this trend continues for just five years, churches in the United States will have 20% less ministry funding.


What should church leaders do next?

In this video, Joe Park explains the trends behind this decline in church giving. He also offers some very practical advice to church leaders to address these giving realities. Some of what Joe discusses is likely brand-new territory for many church leaders. Churches who have made these practices part of their funding model are enjoying increased ministry funding.



If you want to watch the rest of the Giving Intelligence series and access a variety of practical tools to help you cultivate a culture of generosity in your church, visit our Giving365 resource center.


Click here to request a free 20 minute consultation by a Horizons Ministry Strategist about how your church can increase ministry funding and improve discipleship through a process we call Next Level Generosity.

How to Talk About Money and Ministry in Church

Talking about Money and Ministry

Giving to religion fell 3.7% (inflation adjusted) in 2018* as people continue the trend of shifting giving away from the church to other non-profit organizations.  How we talk about money and ministry in the church is one of the reasons.


It’s Easier than You Think

Changing the conversation about money is easier than you might think.  You can begin with one simple vocabulary change. When you make this change, you’ll watch how quickly awkward money conversations can become opportunities to celebrate ministry impact and life change.

Listen as Joe Park, Managing Partner of Horizons Stewardship, explains how this simple change can resolve the tension you might be experiencing as you talk about ministry and money in your church.



If you want to watch the rest of the series and access a variety of practical tools and ideas to help you cultivate a culture of generosity in your church, visit our Giving365 resource center.

*Data provided by the 2019 GivingUSA report.

Why Shifting Your Fiscal Year is a Next Level Generosity Best Practice

Shifting Your Fiscal Year

By shifting their fiscal year away from the traditional calendar, an estimated 40% of vital churches have become better equipped to manage ministry funding. In most churches, up to a third of yearly income is received in December.  In the next offering from Horizons’ Giving Intelligence Series, Managing Partner, Joe Park describes why moving to a non-traditional fiscal calendar should be one of your church’s best practices.



To find out more about Joe Park, click here.


Horizons’ Next Level Generosity (NLG) is a framework that enables church leaders to align people and resources to do more ministry. We’re not talking about a capital campaign, but a shift in culture that multiplies a church’s capacity to change lives and make a lasting impact on its community.  Churches that use NLG are reporting double-digit increases in year-over-year giving. To arrange a free 20-minute consultation to explore if NLG is right for you church visit or contact us at


Did you miss the first installments in Horizons’ Giving Intelligence Series? Find them in our free Giving365 vault by clicking on the Giving365 logo below.

Giving365 - Blog - Horizons - church stewardship resource




Follow Us

PO Box 627
Cabot, Arkansas 72023

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This