7 Reasons Churches Fail in Fundraising…Part III

This blog should actually have been published last week since it is the final blog in the 3-part series, “7 Reasons Churches Fail in Fundraising.”  We apologize for any confusion caused by the articles appearing out of sequence.

Let’s Recap

Previously we covered the following reasons for fundraising failures in church campaigns:

  1. The pastor and/or leadership establish unrealistic Goals, and have nothing to back them beyond needs or wants.
  2. Churches that are not teachable because the leaders believe they are experts in every area.
  3. Church leaders who approach the campaign casually and lack a comprehensive campaign plan.
  4. The Pastor has a hard time giving up control and empowering others to act, and…
  5. The Pastor is reluctant to get involved and ask others for help.

Now today we’ll cover the last two items in our series.

  1. The pastor assumes people should give and therefore spends little time teaching the principles of stewardship…

Defining Stewardship

Webster’s defines Stewardship as careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care. Many interpret it as simply giving money, but stewardship involves more than that. It is the assumption that all we own possessions (time, talent and treasures) that are provided by God. As stewards we’re called to care for these gifts. However, church members don’t always understand this principle and they need to be taught.

Therein lies the rub. I knew one pastor who didn’t like to talk about money or stewardship and therefore neglected it. Why? It was uncomfortable for him. Yet, Jesus talked a great deal about money. In fact, 16 of the 38 parables are about money and stewardship. In the Gospels one of every 10 verses is about money, and the entire Bible has over 2,000 verses on the subject. That’s more than verses on faith and prayer combined, so it appears to be a mistake for pastors to ignore the topic.

A Cheerful Giver

Second Corinthians 9:6-7 tells us, “…whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

There is a cause and effect relationship here. The more we give the more we’ll reap. Now God doesn’t need our money or our offerings of anything. Instead, He wants our hearts. Giving through the heart is actually the route to becoming what the Apostle Paul called a cheerful giver, one who gives not reluctantly but joyfully.

Yet, scripture also tells us that joyful giving is a decision of the heart. Decisions of the heart don’t just happen. They’re cultivated through teaching and the prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is much easier for the latter to occur if the former is present.

  1. The church hasn’t done a planning study to test their case and assess the level of support…In our work capital campaign consulting with churches, our practice has been to create a planning document (or case statement) that outlines the plans of the church. Once that is finished, we distribute it along with a survey to the entire congregation. We ask them to complete the survey either online or through personal interviews.

We ask questions related to the campaign but also to the overall ministry of the church. This provides vital information regarding levels of support, gaps in information, church growth trends and ministry opportunities. It is also one of the first steps in building consensus around the campaign. The findings provide a reasonable assessment of what can be expected financially and what needs to be done to get there. Without such a process the church is shooting in the dark.

Of course, there are many other reasons church campaigns fail, but these seem to be the most frequent ones.