A well-executed capital campaign has the power to multiply a church’s current offerings while simultaneously inspiring action and lifelong generosity among the parish community. These campaigns fund costly initiatives that expand the ministry and ultimately spread the Word of God.
There are several reasons why a church or other religious organization would run a capital campaign. For instance, the funds may be used to purchase or build a new building, renovate an existing structure, expand ministry, or pay off debt. However, they require a great deal of hands-on administration.
As with any fundraising initiative, there are several best practices you’ll need under your belt to successfully inspire generosity among your parish community or congregation. If your church is undertaking a capital campaign, we recommend these three strategies to inspire church members to get involved:
- Build a passionate team.
- Connect giving to your mission.
- Find other ways people can be involved.
Whether your church is looking to renovate its buildings, retire debt, or take on another major project, a capital campaign is worth considering. When backed by these best practices, your ministry can promote a spirit of philanthropy, develop a sense of belonging, and secure vital funds to keep expanding the church.
1. Build a passionate team.
The foundation of any successful fundraising endeavor is a passionate team that will champion your mission at every turn. Organizing a capital campaign is a hefty project that requires ample time, focus, and resources, and a hands-on team will ensure that everything is covered.
While existing church leaders will certainly lead the charge, there are several other groups you’ll want to consider. Inviting others to participate will provide a wide range of ownership, ultimately setting your campaign up for success.
As described in Greater Mission’s church capital campaign guide, administrative teams are typically composed of three types of individuals:
- Church members: These people will be your strongest supporters on the ground level. Inviting church members to participate will boost morale and instill a sense of trust and transparency among other congregants.
- Staff: These individuals understand the inner workings of your church. For smaller staffs, include your accountant or treasurer to keep an eye on the financial aspects. For larger staffs, consider inviting additional staff members to join.
- Leadership: Commissioned church leaders have a clear-cut passion for your mission. Aim to have around one-third of your internal campaign committee represented by leadership.
Some religious organizations opt to take it a step further by hiring an independent consultant. Even if your church already has capable fundraisers, an experienced consultant can bring unparalleled value to your team. These professionals possess special skill sets paired with firsthand experience that will help shepherd your campaign to conclusion.
Like Bloomerang’s capital campaign guide describes, “fundraising consultants can be well worth their cost…given their objective viewpoint and expertise in the field.” Hiring the right consultant will increase the likelihood of reaching your campaign goals, so take the necessary time to locate one with proven faith, commitment, and experience.
2. Connect giving to your mission.
Churches like yours consist of people who are already highly invested in the mission. While congregants already understand your ministry, they might not immediately grasp why a capital campaign is necessary. Help them tie the connection between giving and your mission in order to inspire generosity.
Keep in mind that your church’s capital campaign isn’t just about raising money; it’s about asking your congregation to step into their faith and give beyond their typical contributions.
To ignite a passion for giving, put God at the forefront of your capital campaign. Leaders that fail to do this miss a vital opportunity to build discipleship values. Not to mention, these campaigns tend to be less successful than those that are driven by faith and highlight discipleship.
Take this a step further by communicating supporters’ potential to change lives. Will a new building increase your church’s capacity for outreach? If you effectively share how the capital campaign will make a difference in your ministry (and therefore church members’ own lives), you’ll successfully remind the congregation that the campaign isn’t just about raising money.
A fundraising approach alone may produce results, but it won’t lead to substantial stewardship. Taking the time to help church members understand the purpose of your capital campaign and their own role in its success and the success of the community will prove invaluable as your campaign progresses.
3. Find other ways people can be involved.
While most members will give monetary donations, not every family is in a financially sound place to give, especially due to the pandemic’s economic impact. Give these individuals the opportunity to support your campaign in different ways that meet their needs.
There are a few core ways that church members can participate in your capital campaign beyond donating. When selecting other opportunities to share with congregants, consider these ideas:
- Participate in campaign administration. Instead of donating money, they can donate their time. Encourage those who aren’t able to contribute financially to join your capital campaign team and take on administrative duties. Giving them direct responsibility will provide them with a sense of accountability for your campaign’s success.
- Encourage them to use their skills. For example, if you’re planning a church building project, make sure to utilize members’ construction skills. If they have strong communication skills and valuable connections with other church members, have them participate in campaign promotion.
- Always ask the parishioners to pray for the parish and success of the campaign. Prayer is central to all that we do as a faith community and should be included in all that we do.
Encouraging church members to give isn’t limited to monetary donations. By extending congregants’ opportunities to contribute in any way they can, you’ll accomplish one of the core purposes of your campaign: inspiring generosity. Regardless of their financial situation, congregants will enjoy supporting your campaign and furthering God’s Kingdom.
A capital campaign is a multifaceted undertaking that involves several moving parts. Taking the time to sufficiently plan your campaign will prove invaluable in the long-run. When well-executed, this type of fundraiser can set your ministry up for ongoing growth, whether that means retiring debt or taking on a major construction project.
Start by forming a passionate campaign team composed of various members in your ministry. Remember, a skilled consultant can steer you in the right direction based on ample firsthand experience, whether you’re brand new to capital campaigns or are already a knowledgeable fundraiser. From here, be sure to provide every opportunity for church members to give, so that congregants can support your work and experience joy in their generosity.
Above all, don’t lose sight of the reason behind your campaign. Your campaign has the power to take members from a basic appreciation to a deep commitment for your vision, so put God at the forefront of all your efforts. In turn, you’ll secure faith-filled givers for a lifetime, not just for the duration of your campaign.
Tom Sonni founded Greater Mission in 2006 so that he might expand his life’s work, empowering the Church to live and share the greatest mission ever conceived: To know Jesus Christ and make Him known. Tom brings more than twenty-five years of experience designing stewardship models and managing capital campaigns along with years of experience in strategic planning, constituent research, annual appeals, major gifts, and legacy giving. Tom has guided efforts that have raised over $400 million for the Church. His service has strengthened the Arch/Dioceses of Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Lansing, Miami, Orlando, Palm Beach, Providence, Richmond, St. Petersburg, and Venice, among others. He led the creative design of With All Your Heart – a dynamic new mission advancement model that integrates spiritual formation and lifting parish communities to new levels of generosity to sustain and expand mission and ministry. Before founding Greater Mission, Tom served as the executive leader of diocesan-wide development and stewardship programming in the Diocese of Harrisburg and the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Tom has been a thought leader in the Church on matters of discipleship, stewardship and development, serving on the Board of the International Catholic Stewardship Council. In addition to contributing articles to professional journals, Tom has frequently spoken at national and regional conferences. He also served on the board of Christlife, an international Catholic evangelization ministry.