How Long Does It Take to Hold a Capital Campaign?

How Long Does It Take to Hold a Capital Campaign?

A lot longer than you think. But when I get asked this question they always mean the “public phase” of a campaign. This comes after months and sometimes years of planning. In most “public phase” campaigns, the average time is at least six months from initial planning to completion. In some situations, it can and must be done sooner, but they are the exception rather than the rule. Those campaigns typically never raise the same levels of money as those that give more time to the process. Be wary of the consultant who says they can do it in less time. They don’t live there, you do!

Here is one of the driving mantras I preach to my clients…

It’s more important to get the campaign done right than to get it done on some arbitrary timeline.

The question is one of timing, not time. By taking the steps in this post, you can help ensure that your next campaign is successful. My goal is to get you to the start line of your next campaign with the right timing for whatever time of year your campaign is held.

The Six-Month Rule of Thumb is what I like and advise for my clients. I like six months of planning, which then gives you at least six months before your call to commitment. However, at times, because the timing is not right, it takes more time.

Here is an overall timeline of the typical public campaign dates to help you get a sense of when they are held. When I say six months, I mean from final planning and initiation of the campaign to commitment weekend. Let’s focus on the various timelines most used by churches.

Spring or fall? Campaign timelines fall broadly into spring and fall time frames. Is one better than the other? In my experience, they typically are not. Again, success is dependent upon timing, not time. What drives the timeline also is your church’s timeline. For instance, if the pastor is going on a safari this spring you probably don’t want to hold a capital campaign then. Trust me, I speak from experience!

To determine the best time for your next campaign, look at your calendar. Capital campaigns don’t totally stop all church activities. Yet pastoral absence, pre-set events, various holidays, etc., all weigh into your calendar planning.

Basically, in the springtime, there are two windows of opportunity…

Pre-Easter Campaign—With this timeline, you would ideally want your commitment weekend to be two weeks before Easter. So, pick out that weekend and back up six months. If I had a preference, it would be this timeline.

Memorial Day or before school dismisses – Here, you want commitment weekend to be about two weeks before school gets out. In most states, this is around Memorial Day. Other schools get out somewhere around the second week of June. Find that date and back up six months.

Fall campaigns – There is really only one timeline for fall. You must have your commitment weekend no later than the weekend before Thanksgiving. Once again, find that date and back up six months from there.

Each of the above timelines has leeway. Yet, for our purposes, this broad overview will help you in your planning and give you the needed time to execute your next campaign properly!

Remember my statement, “The first and perhaps the most crucial mistake is not planning far enough in advance”? Let’s avoid that by starting your campaign timeline thinking sooner rather than later.

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