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Church Capital Campaigns

When it comes to assuring the future growth and success of your church, few activities will yield as significant an impact as a church stewardship campaign, helping the church to take a substantial leap forward in the fulfillment of its mission.

What is a church capital campaign?

A church capital campaign is an intense effort on the part of a church to raise significant dollars in a short period of time, typically for acquiring, constructing, or renovating a building.

How does a church capital campaign differ from any other type of capital campaign?

Let’s face it. Churches are unique. You don’t raise money for a church building campaign like you would for a college, university, hospital, museum, or any other type of non-profit.

A church capital campaign is distinct from other capital campaigns in one very important way, and that is that they are based on Christian Stewardship principles. A
Church Capital Campaign is built upon the foundation of stewardship as a lifestyle; a lifestyle resulting from priorities reflecting the values put forth in God's word. A Church Capital Campaign is not about tactics or techniques. Rather, it is a program rooted in Biblical Stewardship principles to lead your constituents through a time of spiritual growth and prayerful consideration of how God would have them respond to the needs and opportunities.

A church capital campaign also differs from other types of capital campaigns in that in a
Church Capital Campaign we are largely looking to a defined constituency for support—i.e. its members and regular attendees. This allows a church capital campaign to proceed much more quickly than most other capital campaigns.

How long does it usually take to run a church capital campaign?

The pace of your church capital campaign will depend primarily on three things: 1) how well your church capital campaign activities are planned out, 2) how timely your church capital campaign committee members are on following through on their assignments, and 3) your donors’ timing. Some donors will give you a final answer during the same visit that you ask for a gift. Others may require more time in order to pray, consider, and discuss before making a final decision.

In general, most Church Capital Campaigns take 4-6 months to complete the planning and the active campaign phases, and up to three years for pledge payments to be fully collected.

What are some common mistakes churches make in conducting a church capital campaign?

  • Not conducting a Feasibility Study / Congregational Readiness Survey
Comprehensive pre-campaign planning is an essential element of a major church capital campaign—many church stewardship campaigns have been scuttled by a premature or ill-planned launch. A capital campaign is too important to the future of your church to proceed on blind faith! When considering a major building campaign, a Congregational Readiness Survey should be conducted. A Congregational Readiness Survey provides every member of the church community the opportunity to give confidential input regarding the plans of the church and their willingness to participate in a proposed church stewardship campaign, providing objective data to assist in making critical decisions to determine the likely success of a church stewardship campaign.

  • Going public too soon
The success or failure of most church capital campaigns is generally determined before they are even publicly announced. For almost any major church capital campaign, it is almost impossible to reach the final goal through small gifts. One of the most common mistakes is to assume that everyone in the church will rally to the cause and give once you formally announce your campaign. They will, but they won’t give at the level you will need to succeed. The major gift commitments you raise during the quiet leadership phase of the campaign will make or break your eventual success. Don’t rush to make an announcement. Focus first on the face-to-face meetings with these members – they are critical to the eventual success of your church stewardship campaign.

  • Not seeing the campaign through to completion
When most people think of a church capital campaign they think only of the public phase, which represents the middle part of the church building campaign. Truth is, however, the success or failure of most church capital campaigns is determined at the beginning and the end. The most important part of the campaign is in the early phases, when most of the planning is conducted and the major commitments are secured. The end stage of the campaign is also critically important, however. Most people who give to a church stewardship campaign will do so with a multi-year pledge. Too often campaign committees pack up and go home once they have secured a sufficient amount of cash and pledges to complete the project. But what if a sizeable amount of these pledges are not collected? Or what if once building commences the costs of the project are a little higher than anticipated? At the end of the day, the church stewardship campaign is not going to be a success until the project is complete and all the pledges are fulfilled. The Fulfillment Phase of the church capital campaign is important to ensuring that the vast majority of pledges are fulfilled, and that new gifts are continually being secured to replace that small percentage of pledges that will go unfulfilled and/or to offset unexpected cost increases or overruns, ensuring that your church is not burdened by unforeseen cash flow problems down the road.

  • Making assumptions about giving
One of the most common mistakes when considering a church capital campaign is to make assumptions that everyone in the church is going to support the church stewardship campaign equally. Invariably someone will suggest taking the total goal, dividing it up by the number of families, and simply sending a letter to everyone asking them to give that amount. Sounds simple right? Unfortunately that simply doesn't work. Church capital campaigns must be carefully planned and implemented, and there's a right way and a wrong way to do it.

Why should we choose to use a capital campaign consultant to provide capital campaign counsel to help us with our church capital campaign?

Church Capital Campaign is one of the most significant initiatives your church will undertake. It is a complex undertaking, and is critically important that it be done right. To succeed, a church capital campaign must have a very high profile. This means that if it flops, it will be a high-profile flop. You also generally only have one shot at getting it right. There are many ways that a church capital campaign can “go off the rails”, and when it does it can be very difficult to get it back on track.

With so much at stake, most churches wisely choose to retain a Church Capital Campaign Consulting Firm to help guide their church capital campaign through to a successful completion.

What are the benefits of retaining a Capital Campaign Consulting Firm to provide church capital campaign counsel for our church stewardship campaign?

As the saying goes, when you need expertise hire an expert.

At Dickerson, Bakker & Associates, our consultants will work with you to craft a customized church stewardship campaign plan to help your church turn your vision into reality as current and new friends are taught Biblical stewardship principles and are asked to make gifts over and above their current involvement with the ministry.

Whether you are looking to conduct a campaign for new buildings, debt reduction, missions, or any other type of major fundraising campaign, we are experts in providing the counsel and assistance to successfully complete a church capital campaign that will help your church take a substantial leap forward in the fulfillment of its God-given ministry.

Dickerson, Bakker & Associates personnel have extensive experience in guiding churches through successful campaigns. We have helped hundreds of churches just like yours raise hundreds of millions of dollars for their Church Capital Campaigns, and would welcome the opportunity to assist your church in meeting its goals.

For more information please call us at (800) 382-0094, or via email at