What To Consider Before Doing A Capital Campaign

David Bennett | Director of Financial Development

Some of the most common questions pastors ask me are, “We need money to take care of some deferred maintenance issues and even more money to expand our current facilities. We need a new building so that our ministry can reach more people with the Gospel. Do you think we can raise $5 million? How do we know if our people are ready to give?”

I have witnessed pastor’s concerns about raising money. Whenever we talk about expansion and and money in our churches, people feel stress. That stress can cause damaging issues to surface in the church. It can also drive people to act on their own dysfunction and divide the church. Sometimes agendas surface. Sometimes opposition to the mission and vision arise. At other times people remember failed campaigns they were a part of in other churches. Some churches have raised money for a project then don’t complete the project. Other churches spend the money for purposes other than the purpose the money was originally given. In addition, people may not believe in the intended project or have an issue with the pastor.

On the other hand, stress can unify. Which was evident during the 911 tragedy when we saw Americans come together and unify efforts to save lives. I have seen cities cause stress to churches because of their decisions. That stress can unify a church to make a difference for God’s Kingdom. Most of us have probably seen how churches come together behind a compelling project. When this happens, churches become resourceful to accomplish more than what they think they can. This kind of stress causes unity and energy to accomplish something transformative.

So, back to the original question, “How do we know if a church is ready to raise a significant amount of money? How much can they give? How do we know if the stress caused will unify or divide?”

I have led churches through a simple process to discover the answer to these questions. That process is called Ministry Expansion Study (MES). The goal of the MES is threefold. One, to find factors that would lead to a successful fundraising campaign as defined by the ability to raise sufficient funds AND the likelihood of the campaign to help people on their discipleship journey of Christlikeness. Second, How much can they give? Third, Estimate how much can be raised for the intended purpose.

If the congregation will not be able to raise all that is needed, we can either adjust the scale of the project/s, prioritize which project to do first or think in terms of phases until the church can complete all the projects. It’s one thing for the church to need money to fund a project, but another issue of what can be raised. A donor may not have the capacity to give even though she may have the desire and willingness to give more. On the other hand, the donor may have the capacity to give, but not believe in the intended project and therefore not give. The MES attempts to find answers to the questions.

How does the MES discover this?

First of all, the church writes a Case for Support Statement. We need to know why the church leaders want to raise money and what the money will be used for, how much will the project/s cost and the impact leaders anticipate the projects will have on God’s kingdom, individuals, the church and community? This Case Statement clarifies the intended fund-raising outcome and the reason behind the intended outcome.

Second, we interview people by asking questions and listening. Some of these questions include; how people have come to the church, why they stayed, what they like about the church, what they would change and their vision for the ministry.

Third, we compile what we have heard along with our analysis of what we have heard. We then write a report of what we have found, This report summarizes leader’s Case Statement, list factors for success, areas of concern, an estimate of what the church can expect to raise and next steps to take.

In the next months, I’ll share factors I see that lead to successful fund-raising, factors which hinder fund-raising and how the MES benefits the church.

All of this is to support our churches and help them accomplish God’s vision for them. At NextGen, our vision is not about us, but about our churches. The stronger we can help our churches become, the stronger NextGen will become. Feel free to contact me if I can answer questions or provide help.

May God Richly Bless You!

David Bennett