Four Principles That Will Help Make Your Campaign A Success

Managing Church Campaigns

As capital campaign consultants, when working with churches we tell them that there are four principles on which we build our work that greatly enhance the church’s success.

However, beyond that, I believe these principles can help most organizations enhance fundraising success. What are they?

Principle 1 – Broad Information Sharing

Major donors want to know that you have created, tested and vetted strategies that best help you achieve your mission. The last thing anyone wants to believe is that a few people in a back room created most of these plans.

We’ve learned that the most effective fundraising comes from a strategic planning process. We typically test the proposed plans through a church survey and interviews. Also, during the campaign process we share information regularly about the campaign projects and processes through 7-8 articles that are posted in the bulletin and on the website.

We also host information meetings at the church, where people hear about the plans again and then are encouraged to ask questions. In fact, to ensure this kind of dialogue occurs, we suggest that clients plant a few questions (if necessary) to make it comfortable for others to ask questions.

Principle 2 – Involvement

Often institutional campaigns wind up having a few people do a lot of work. Among other things, that contributes to higher levels of burnout as campaigns wind down. In churches we try to reverse that model, having a lot of people do a few things.

We have six committees performing various tasks, but none actually does fundraising. Each committee meets no more than twice for an hour or less, and I (or one of my colleagues) create the agenda and then lead each meeting. Also, the actual work of each committee member takes no more than 1-2 hours.

Depending on the church size, we involve anywhere from 40-150 volunteers, typically 20-25% of the membership. Although that seems like quite a few, we rarely fail to recruit the volunteers we need. Also, with that many volunteers, you tend to get increased awareness, enthusiasm, advocacy and giving.

 Principle 3 – Momentum

As a high school coach, I planned and used momentum to win quite a few games. I learned that from my college coaches. During my career in higher education, I figured out ways to apply that concept in fundraising campaigns. In churches we do that in several ways. First, the committees are all focused towards the “capstone” phase, which happens in the last 6 weeks. There are activities for adults and children, information blasts, testimonials and much more.

In addition, through a series of dinners we ask 10-15% of the church membership to consider making their commitment a few weeks in advance of the rest of the congregation. The results of this phase are announced prior to commitment weekend, which serves as a momentum builder for the rest of the congregation.

Principle 4 – Prayer

Campaigns are about capacity and will. Through the feasibility study we get a pretty good idea of the capacity and to some extent we can even influence the will of church members to give. However, we also depend on the Holy Spirit to influence that will by incorporating prayer into our effort.

Specifically, every meeting begins with prayer. In addition, we ask people to thoughtfully and prayerfully consider what they may be led to give. Finally, we encourage churches to organize a 24-hour prayer chain with 15-minute segments, right before commitment weekend.

Proven Results

Applying these principles may not work for every organization. However, using this model over 20 years, we have had nearly a 100% success rate!