7 Reasons Churches Fail in Fundraising…Part II

Last week we began a series on 7 reasons churches fail at fundraising, and what to do about it. Specifically we mentioned:

  1. The pastor and church leadership who establish unrealistic goals, and have nothing to back those goals beyond needs or wants.

As fundraising consultants, we recommend that churches begin the campaign process with a planning study to help determine both the capacity and the will of church members to achieve the goal. Conducting such a study also helps church leaders determine exactly what a reasonable goal is. 

  1. Churches that are not teachable because the leaders believe they are experts in every area.

To address this we recommended that churches not only hire outside counsel to help them with the campaign, but also listen to that counsel. A good consultant can save you time and energy and help you increase donations as a result of their experience.

Now today, we’ll look at a few more reasons that churches fail in fundraising and what churches can do about it.

  1. The church leadership approaches the campaign casually and they lack a comprehensive campaign plan.

Often churches will start a campaign by simply announcing it, talking about the projects and then having people make their commitments one Sunday. Others might be a bit more sophisticated, so they decide to visit with each church family asking them for a specific amount. However, neither method involves much of a plan nor does it work as effectively as it might. In a church, the best way to maximize results is to have volunteers working a comprehensive plan with a master schedule, communications strategies, deadlines, and more.

 In the campaigns we facilitate, there are several operational committees that we personally meet with at least twice (sometimes more) to explain their responsibilities, provide training and give them advice. Each of these committees has specific activity schedules, instructions, deadlines and prototypes for their work This committee work tends to build ownership, consensus and enthusiasm over time, and that usually translates into higher giving and motivates church members. When a church lacks this, campaign success becomes a lot more questionable.

  1. The Pastor has a hard time giving up control and empowering others to act.

One of the primary elements of successful campaigns is the involvement of church members. When we structure campaigns we have several committees of people involved. In fact, rather than have a few people do a lot of things, we have a lot of people doing a few things. This tends to build ownership and enthusiasm and stimulate giving. However, if the pastor isn’t willing to let go of the reigns and allow people to lead in some key areas, then the campaign isn’t as likely to succeed.

  1. The Pastor is reluctant to get involved and ask others for help.

The pastor may not be the only leader, but the pastor should be the primary leader. At the start and throughout the time of the campaign, the Pastor must be out front, identifying and helping recruit key committee chairs and talking about the importance of the campaign.

In addition, while the vast majority of members won’t be asked for specific amounts, there are a few lead gift prospects with whom the Pastor should visit at some point about making a major gift. Campaign leadership can accompany the Pastor, but the Pastor needs to be involved.

Without the Pastor’s involvement in some of these key activities, it’s not likely that the campaign will be successful. In fact, people shouldn’t have to ask, “where is the pastor,” or “where is the pastor on this campaign?” That should be obvious from the start!