How to Use a Rule of Thumb to Pinpoint Your Campaign’s Gift Potential
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 horizons.net.)
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.