fundraising_planA capital stewardship campaign can be essential to the success of any new church building or renovation funding process. In this post, we’ll share some key guidelines for campaign success, explain why you should hire a consultant, and talk about how a successful campaign can encourage lending institutions to loan you more for your new church building.

What is a Capital Stewardship Campaign?

A capital stewardship campaign is the strategic process through which you ask the members of your congregation to pledge money specifically for a major church building project. You don’t make this happen with a surprise sermon, asking members to commit a certain amount of money that day. You’ve got to prepare everyone—which is why it’s called a campaign.

Capital campaigns are generally four to six months long. First, time is spent in preparing the materials and mobilizing people within the congregation, then educating the entire congregation on the reason church funding is needed and how the vision and mission will be fulfilled with the new tools for ministry. Finally, you’ll ask members of the congregating for a pledge commitment. Traditionally, that commitment would be for a three-year term, but we’re finding that fewer people are willing or able to make a long-term pledge, so more churches are asking for a one- or two-year commitment instead.

The timing of your capital stewardship campaign is also very important. You don’t want to do the public campaign itself during the summer when many people are away on vacation, or during winter, when everyone is focused on the holidays. These are the times of year when you should start planning the steps of your campaign. The best time to actually run the campaign is in the fall (September through November) or spring (February through May) and have it end right before or after Easter.

Who Should Run Your Capital Stewardship Campaign?

Sometimes consultants get a bad rap, and there are certainly consultants that don’t deliver on their promises. But statistically, church funding consultants are worth their pay, and we strongly encourage churches to use them. In fact, you can find a short list of established capital campaign organizations on our website. It’s there because we believe that any church leader can benefit from having a conversation with them about funding ideas.

Here are the current statistics: Consultants will raise, on average, one-and-a-half to two times your church’s annual budget in capital pledges. Churches that don’t use consultants only raise about half of the church’s annual budget. So if your annual budget is $500,000, a consultant can help you raise between $750,000 and $1 million, while doing it yourself could get you just $250,000. That’s a huge difference.

What Do Lenders Think of Capital Stewardship Campaigns?

Here’s another reason to hire a professional: Lending organizations are more likely to trust pledges made in a consultant-run stewardship campaign than in a church funding campaign you’ve run yourself. This matters even more when you understand that lenders generally don’t want to include pledged dollar amounts in their calculations of the amount they’ll lend for your new church building or renovation project. If they do include pledge funds in their calculations, they’re going to do it at a discounted rate, such as seventy, or even sixty, percent.

Today’s shorter capital stewardship campaigns are not such a bad idea, and can even work out well in this aspect. If you have a one-year campaign, and you approach the lending organization once you’re finished and have the first round of donations in hand, you’re going to get more funding. Lending institutions usually calculate maximum loan amounts based on around three times your church’s annual revenue. The collected cash from your capital campaign will count in that revenue calculation, significantly increasing the loan value you would have received without it.

Church Funding Planning Begins Now!

It’s never too early to begin thinking about a capital stewardship campaign. If you’re already talking about the need for a larger or updated building to fulfill your church vision, it’s time to start planning now. If you’re not quite at this stage in your church financing journey, our free i3 webinars can also help you understand all the factors involved.