A Question of Timing

A Question of Timing

About this time every year, churches call and ask, “Is it too late to start a capital stewardship campaign?” The answer is, it depends! We joke that most of our answers are, it depends! That is because there are so many variables that go into campaign planning. As I write this at the start of June, let me say that the answer is qualified; no, it is not too late. But it’s close to being too late. Let me give you one of my Brooks Mantras, “It’s more important to get ‘it’ right than to get ‘it’ done on time.” It’s always a question of timing.

What factors go into knowing whether the timing of your campaign is right? Let me list some key factors for your consideration.

First, what kind of project is it? If you are adopting another church or starting a new campus, you might need more time to help members get their hands around the concept. Understanding the project is crucial, as people will not give to what they do not understand. Most any type of new building takes longer for members to embrace, and thus you might need a longer campaign cycle. However, if your campaign is simple, like debt reduction, then I find you need less time. Most, if not everyone, understands the need to be debt-free. So, the more complicated the project, the more time we like to give to the process to ensure greater success.

Next, where are your leaders? By this, I mean, are they up to speed on the reason you are raising funds? Are they already on board? Your leaders will give as much as 90% of what is given. If you have been communicating with them and have not heard any objections, you might be ready to start your campaign. Tell me where your leaders are, and I will tell you if you are ready or not.

Lastly, ensuring alignment with external factors is a critical aspect of campaign readiness. Consider questions like, ‘What is the bank’s position on your project?’ ‘Have local authorities given their approval?’ These factors can significantly impact the success of your campaign. It’s important to avoid announcing something to the congregation that you might have to retract later. By thoroughly considering these external factors, you can better assess the readiness of your church for a capital stewardship campaign.

Is the church calendar clear? If you have a major missions conference that will fall in the middle of your capital campaign, you need to seriously think about delaying one or the other. A crowded calendar will make for a much more difficult campaign process.

What kind of program/process are you going to use? If you want an old-school multiple-team approach, then you will need longer to effectively recruit and train those lay people who will serve. But realize programs don’t raise dollars. Vision does, but you need time to communicate that vision.

How much time will the Senior Pastor commit to the process? The senior pastor is the best at communicating the campaign’s vision and thus raising the needed dollars. If the senior pastor is too busy, then I would advise against a launch. Something as important as funding, the vision you have, demands the time and commitment from the senior pastor!

These are some of the keys that we look at as we evaluate the timing of starting a campaign. You will see that I often used the word might. So much goes into a successful campaign. With so much on the line, you need to make sure the timing is right.

So, how do you know if you still have time for a campaign? Here are some questions to ask…

  • Is what we are raising funds for easily explained, or will we need time to get our members up to speed?
  • Is the “ask” simple or complex? Explaining debt reduction is easy. Buildings typically aren’t.
  • Has it been a long time since we held a capital campaign, or is this another in a succession of campaigns?
  • Are our leaders already fully on board with what we are raising funds for?
  • Are there major issues or initiatives already on our church calendar that would compete with the campaign message?
  • Do we as a staff have the time at this time to invest in a campaign?
  • Are all the pieces in place, such as building plans, financing, etc.?

These are just a few of the questions you should be asking and thinking about. Timing is everything when it comes to a successful capital campaign!

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