Hot August tips for campaign success in faith-based settings

There they were, 17 earnest Episcopalians, gathered in the basement of the Cathedral building on a hot August evening to talk about fundraising. With a capital campaign on the horizon, Vestry members were on the hunt for professional counsel and so there I was, peddling my development know-how.

Included in my pearls of wisdom to the would-be campaigners were the following 5 essentials for campaign success in a faith-based setting. To be sure, I could have added other hot tips to the list. However, it’s hard to go wrong with these five in place.

1. A compelling case for support. An organization’s (or congregation’s) financial woes, albeit painful and pressing, are not likely to win the hearts or gifts of many donors. The real money is with enhanced ministry potential. In faith-based settings, the case for support must answer the question, How will gifts to this effort advance Kingdom purposes?

2. An enthusiastic leadership team. These are the folks who bring life, energy, and staying power to the compelling case described above. The steering committee, and most especially the chair, should exude passionate commitment to the campaign purposes. This includes being first in line with their generous pledges toward the campaign goal.

3. Attention to proven best practices in campaigning. There’s an amazing wealth of accumulated wisdom upon which to draw when launching a capital campaign. Some of it may not be appropriate in a faith-based setting, but that’s no reason to ignore the whole.  God has given us brains and God expects us to use them — including (in fact, most especially) when raising funds for causes that advance God’s good purposes in the world.

4. A realistic understanding of and commitment to doing the hard work involved. There are no shortcuts to raising money — no easy way to reach a campaign goal. A fundraising campaign is fairly simple in concept, but pulling one off is hard work that can’t be rushed — even with God on our side. Think Luke 14:28 – 31.

5. A willingness to ask. No matter how compelling the case for support, most folks will wait to be asked before making a commitment. Campaign leaders (see #2 above), including the organization’s CEO (pastor/priest),  must be willing and able to ask — and to do so with enthusiasm and without apology. It’s a simple enough truth. We have not because we ask not.

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