A successful capital campaign can both eliminate nagging debt and fund much-needed campus upgrades, renovations, and deferred maintenance.

  • Debt elimination campaigns return the money you are using for debt service to your ministry budget.

  • Building upgrades, renovations, and funding deferred maintenance allow you to better leverage your facilities to grow disciples and impact the world in the name of Christ.

More ministry funding and improved facilities are appealing, but the best news is there may never be a better time to invite your church into a capital campaign with the goals of debt elimination and facility upgrades.

Why Debt Campaigns Have Been Exceptionally Successful During the Pandemic

Churches that launched debt elimination campaigns during the pandemic reaped the benefits of donors who were anxious to see long-term debt eliminated and the debt service returned to grow the ministry budget.

This window of opportunity is likely to continue through 2022 as rapidly rising interest rates are creating an increased sense of urgency, especially among your best donors who have frequently enjoyed seeing their portfolios and home prices rise by 20-40% over the last several years.

Most successful debt elimination campaigns also included facility improvements to energize newer donors who are often not as motivated to pay off debt that existed before they joined the church. Younger donors are also attracted to projects they can touch and have an immediate ministry impact.

How Do We Know if the Time is Right for Our Church?

Download this free guide: How to Know if Our Church is Ready for a Successful Capital Campaign

While this season of opportunity will not last forever, there is important work for church leadership to ensure a successful result.

Before launching any campaign, it's essential that ministry and financial leaders are aligned around a compelling vision for the future. It's vital to make the case that God has an important role for your church and the existing debt and/or the need for capital investments are impediments to fully embracing that future.

Failing to align your ministry and financial leaders around a clear and measurable Vision - called a case statement or statement of need, before deciding to launch a capital campaign is the single greatest reason churches and faith-based nonprofits fail to achieve their desired results.

Once your ministry and financial leaders have embraced the Vision and your plan to achieve it, the next two critical steps are a church-wide education strategy followed by a feasibility-readiness study. Your study will test the Vision and case statement with all church households and provide a reliable financial estimate of the campaign results, as well as a road map of how the church will achieve these results.

While most churches understand the need for a feasibility study, many fail to take advantage of the guidance available from their campaign counsel. These services include:

  • Assisting with the development and prioritization of your project list

  • Creating and refining a compelling case statement

  • Engaging, testing, and aligning the required level of support from your ministry and financial leaders

  • Creating a communication strategy for the church-wide education phase

At least in the case of Horizons, these services and the feasibility-readiness study are included at no additional cost in your capital campaign. Churches are provided with the opportunity to delay or cancel the campaign after the presentation and review of the study findings and recommendations.

If you are considering a capital campaign and plan to use professional counsel to guide you, I encourage you to make your selection early so that you are able to take full advantage of their skills.

Steps in Developing a Successful Campaign

When developing a capital campaign plan, the following components need to be included. Skipping a step or two can prove costly.

  1. Create a clear and compelling vision describing the impact of debt elimination and your campus upgrades. Keep in mind that you are seeking to close the books on past chapters and focus on your preferred future. 

  2. Identify your church's ideal goals (debt and capital) to be discussed and tested with your ministry and financial leaders.

  3. Engage and align your ministry and financial leaders, refining your case for support (as needed) to achieve the necessary level of support.

  4. Develop and conduct a church-wide education strategy to share your Vision and campaign case for support with all households.

  5. Conduct an all-household feasibility study to define your achievable range of financial commitments and key elements of your communication strategy.

  6. Create a campaign timeline that includes a lead gift development (quiet) phase and a public phase. It is ideal to have at least 50% of the campaign goals committed before launching the public phase of the campaign.

  7. Using information from your feasibility study, create an effective communications strategy for both the quiet and public phases.

  8. Develop a profile of the sizes and number of gifts that are necessary for you to achieve your goals.

  9. Create your one-to-one, one-to-few, and one-to-many gift development strategies for your quiet and public phases.

  10. Clearly define campaign leadership roles, expectations, and deliverables, including a plan to recruit, train, and manage your team.

  11. Consider what types of gifts your church will accept (e.g., appreciating assets, cash, crypto, IRA, planned gifts, etc.) and your strategy to promote awareness and use of each.

For additional resources on developing a campaign strategy, visit horizons.net and our free, on-demand resource library, Giving365.com. You can also schedule a free conversation with one of our team. Schedule Now.

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