Our last several posts have stressed the importance of not giving up on church building plans during times of financial uncertainty. We’ve explored how church leaders have adapted to financial conditions and handled other recession challenges to create workable church designs.

Many churches have also successfully completed capital stewardship campaigns over the past few years, but not all. Here is more on how you can successfully fund your church design and construction project in today’s financial conditions.

Timing Matters

We’ve experienced significant changes since 2020, so it’s no surprise that today’s capital stewardship campaign looks different than those of the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s. A three-year campaign used to be standard. Many campaigns are now getting shorter, going one year, 18 months, or two years. It depends on your church and how far out you can comfortably plan.

The main element of a stewardship campaign begins with obtaining monetary pledges, typically over a four-to-six-month period. However, it’s important to spend several months in advance to plan the campaign.

The timing of the campaign is important. What part of the year are you most likely to engage your congregation? It will be difficult to generate excitement over the summer, when people are traveling, or in the winter, when they are distracted by Christmas preparations and celebrations. We recommend the fall, from mid-September through mid-November, so you wrap up before the holiday season.

The next best time is in the spring, scheduled around Easter. Start in January and finish before Easter if you can, or start after Easter and wrap up before summer, depending on when the Easter season falls that year.

Engage Your Members

A capital stewardship campaign is much more than simply asking for donations. How can you drive attenders to give out of generosity rather than obligation? You need to plan and prepare with your church leaders to generate excitement with the church’s community about the project. It’s critical to talk about your church vision and how your members can give of themselves and their resources to support it. You’ll also want to identify members of your church who may be willing to give leadership during the campaign and work with them on opportunities, like matching-fund donations, that can spur others to give.

Leverage Professional Support

Does it make financial sense to bring in professionals to help your church raise the funds it needs for remodeling or building a new church? There are many good reasons to do it. Stewardship campaign firms are responding to the changing economy and developing better methods for raising capital. Despite the recession, the average capital stewardship campaign raises one to two times the annual church budget over the course of a campaign.

When a campaign is self-led, that average drops to about 50 percent. On top of that, a bank is likely to loan you less if you try to raise money yourself, because they see it as a greater risk. Bringing on a professional stewardship campaign consultant is typically worth the investment, and we have a list of financial institutions on our website to help you get started.

If you’re interested in more information to help you successfully fund and complete your church design and construction project, check out our upcoming free i3 webinars. These interactive sessions provide a great opportunity to learn from the experts and get your questions answered.