What Should a Capital Campaign Consultant Do?

What Should a Capital Campaign Consultant Do?

What Does a Capital Campaign Consultant Actually Do? That was the subject line of an email I recently received from a non-profit fundraising consultant. The email began by saying,

“Have you ever wondered what all these capital campaign consultants actually do? Is what they do all “smoke and mirrors,” or do they bring real value?”

The answer is that it depends. As I continue my focus on raising capital dollars for the future, I’d like to take a stab at answering these questions, but first, I would change the key question slightly. I would ask, What Should a Capital Campaign Consultant Do? With that as our title, let’s start.

To answer this question, let’s start with what a capital campaign consultant shouldn’t do. The answer the typical capital campaign consultant would give you regarding what they do is something like being an additional staff member managing the flow of the capital campaign, helping you raise 1.5 to 3.0 times your annual budget. Sadly, for most churches, this never happens.

I have been in the stewardship ministry for twenty-five years now. I have worked for the largest firms in our industry and founded my own firm twice. So, I’ve learned a thing or two about this industry and what we do offer. The typical campaign consultant delivers a pre-set plan designed in the last century that might or might not fit your culture and context. They won’t be like an additional staff member unless you only see or hear from your staff six times a year if that. They also can’t deliver on their promise to help you raise 1.5 to 3.0 times your annual operating budget. The amount a church raises in a campaign depends on many things, primarily the wealth of your donors. If your church is a blue-collar church, ignore their promises. You can raise capital, but it won’t be the inflated numbers they promise.

“What are my deliverables?” I started my own firm, The Charis Group, back in 2006. Our concept was new and different, and I received requests from consultants working at other companies interested in working for me. I remember one long-time consultant kept asking me about manuals, documents, and support materials. I commented that we did not have those pre-written on a shelf ready to put in the mail for clients. We start every engagement with a blank sheet of paper. He looked at me aghast and said, “What are my deliverables?” I didn’t help him any when I replied, “You!” I explained, “We don’t deliver a program. We deliver our experience as former pastors and, most especially, as having helped raise millions of dollars.” We both realized he was not a fit for our company.

“Can you think?” After that fateful discussion, when other campaign consultants would call about working with me, I would say, “I’m not looking for guys who can deliver a program. I’m looking for guys who can think strategically.” I had learned that the typical pastor had utilized multiple firms and had their manuals on the shelves behind them! They weren’t interested in a program. They had a shelf full of programs. They needed a partner to help them navigate the process. They needed someone who could guide and counsel them. They didn’t need another program.

My industry is program driven. Programs do not raise dollars. They never have, but we have a program mentality that causes us to think the solution to every problem is another program. All campaigns have some programmed aspects. That doesn’t mean the program should drive your strategy. And what works for one church doesn’t necessarily work for another. This is why we defend principles, not programs.

A crucial principle for us is connecting your members spiritually to the project and campaign. Spiritually driven campaigns better fit the culture of evangelical churches, and they raise more money. A key component of this is prayer. But how you encourage your people to pray is not the issue. Back when I first started doing this, we would recommend a 24-hour prayer chain held at the church. Today, we would never recommend that. Who wants to climb out of bed at 2 AM to drive to the church to pray? Your members might get up that early to pray, but today they would rather gather online than drive to the church. What worked in the last century might not work in this century.

So, my first answer to what a capital campaign consultant should dois understand the difference and importance of focusing on principles rather than a program.

This leads to my next answer regarding what a capital campaign consultant should do. You want a consultant that understands they are not a capital campaign consultant.

I’m an ordained minister whose ministry is all things generosity and stewardship related. As I once told a pastor interviewing me for a capital campaign, “I know you need to raise a chunk of change, and I can help you do that. I am really interested in helping you be financially secure by 2030.”

I believe God has called me for such a time as this to help churches move toward financial security. Since 2006, The Stewardship Coach is the brand through which I have operated my writing and coaching for church leaders. I have taken my experience as a Senior Pastor of over 20 years and over 25 years in the stewardship industry to produce tools that can benefit any church or Christian organization. It consists of three major strategic stewardship initiatives.

Weekly Newsletter – The Stewardship Coach/The Stewardship JournalThe Stewardship Coach weekly newsletter forms the bedrock of my support for pastors and churches. The Stewardship Journal was started in 2021 at the request of the Missouri Baptist Convention. Starting January 8th, 2024, we are taking the Journal national to other SBC state conventions.

Stewardship Resource Library – This includes all my:

Seasonal Giving Playbooks – I write giving plans called playbooks around the key driving events and times of a church calendar. My newsletter shares the stewardship basics. The seasonal playbooks tell you how to implement those basics.

Offering Talk Vault – I have found that the easiest way to increase giving and add new givers is by setting the stage for the offering. I have written around 500 offering talks, which we now call Mission and Ministry Moments. These talks are filed by topic and year and are accessible for free download.

The Stewardship Coach PlatformFifteen years ago, I started the concept of directed coaching. In 2015, I began moving towards a virtual delivery of my coaching. Members receive a “seat” at all my group teaching times held via webinars throughout the year. These three platforms are what I am using to build stewardship programs for churches and various Christian organizations and denominations. What we offer is more than a program and more than help with a capital campaign. We are committed to helping you be financially secure and sound by 2030. And I can help you raise capital!

Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach

Missions and Ministry Moment (aka Offering Talk) – This week’s talk can be accessed afteryou register at:  http://acts17generosity.com/simple-file-list/Offering-Talks/2023-53-Talks-for-53-Sundays/August-27th-How-a-Small-Amount-Becomes-a-Large-Amount.pdf

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