Capital Campaigns: Adapting for Success

(Originally published as an article within ECCU’s former e-publication, Ministry Banking Today.)

“Current economic conditions provide the greatest opportunity for American churches in decades.”

—Brad Leeper, senior strategist and fundraising expert at Generis

While some church leaders still view the economy as a boa constrictor squeezing the life out of their ministry, many more are embracing this season as one of great opportunity—even for a capital campaign**.

In the May 2009 issue of Ministry Banking Today (MBT), we offered reasons why your ministry should not shy away from pursuing a capital campaign. Here, we take a look at how the shifting economy is providing new ways to approach capital campaigns, and how your ministry can adapt for success.

Connect faith and giving. While it may not be the most comfortable subject to address, teaching about giving is a spiritual exercise essential to the heart of your campaign. Be bold and ask your church body these questions: Why do we give? How do we give? Where and when do we give? According to The Barna Group, only 24 percent of evangelicals tithe at least 10 percent of their income. There is plenty of room to expand when it comes to giving—beginning with teaching the biblical principles.

Build a culture of generosity. According to Leeper, generosity is the new evangelism model for the next decade. How we differentiate ourselves by our use of money will make a very compelling statement to our culture. “This is a time when many people are addressing the juxtaposition between living as affluent Americans and as Christ-followers,” says Leeper. “Without excess cash to hide behind, people are taking an honest look at what is truly important when it comes to how they spend their money. There’s no better time to build a foundation for generous living in your ministry.”

Put your teaching to the test. Just like individual Americans, each church is being challenged to reassess how it uses money to fulfill its purpose. With scarcity comes tough choices, but churches are not only responding with better stewardship inside their church walls, they are also recapturing church-to-Church generosity as part of their mission. For example, many churches have developed a tithe or firstfruit fund—giving 10 percent or more of their income to other local churches and ministries in need.

Not only should you take advantage of this season to re-evaluate your ministry priorities, you should also ask challenging questions about the role you play in the network of local churches that comprise the Church: What programs are most aligned with our mission? Are we modeling generosity? Do we have an internal or external focus when it comes to spending money? Your answers may very well change how you move forward with your capital campaign.

Stay tuned for the September issue of MBT, where we will address economically-relevant ways to ask people to give toward a specific project.

**NOTE: The term “capital campaign” can take on many different meanings, but it all boils down to one goal: Creating excess cash flow for the purpose of mission fulfillment.

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