April 25, 2017

Finding New Donors: Capital Campaigns as Evangelism

Ever thought of a capital campaign as a form of 'evangelism'? No, a campaign is not just about money, it's about cultivating new and existing relationships that nurture the vitality and growth of your congregation. A capital campaign offers a variety of creative ways for parishioners to interact both inside and outside the parish. Building relationships is as important for the future of your church as receiving monetary gifts in a campaign. Here are three groups you should intentionally reach out to in your capital campaign.

A) Invite new and prospective members into the parish family

If someone bravely comes to your church for the first time, they need to feel warmly welcomed by all. St. John's made a strong effort to get to know newcomers during their capital campaign. In fact the campaign was the catalyst for the creation of their welcome committee. It began with a phone call from the rector personally inviting each new family to fellowship at a 'newcomers brunch'. A guided tour of the historic building, information about the capital campaign and an array of volunteering opportunities was offered. There were many questions and newcomers were grateful for the opportunity. Not all of the seven new volunteers wanted to work on the campaign, one wanted to be an acolyte and one an usher. When it was time to pledge to the campaign, all six of the new families made both a first time annual pledge, and a capital campaign pledge.

B) Reconnect with legacy families

Have you ever wondered what became of the families whose names are prominently displayed on plaques and memorials throughout your church? Ascension Church took the time and trouble to make an inventory and do some investigation and prospect research. Despite many dead ends, the result of writing, talking by phone and meeting the descendents of one family was a gift from the family foundation of $10,000 to the annual campaign AND a six figure capital campaign gift. The annual gift is being reapplied for this year and will likely be granted again. Although they now live far away, the family wrote 'we so appreciate being reminded of the link our ancestors had with your beautiful church, and for the opportunity to help you preserve this historic landmark."

C) Cultivate major donors

Research tells us that 80%-90% of capital gifts come from 10%-20% of the wealthiest givers. All gifts, regardless of size, are needed and valued in our parishes. As these are opportunities for transformative experiences, it takes time at every stage of your campaign to personally meet with those who have the capacity to make a substantial gift. Find out what is important to them, how they wish to channel their time, talent and treasure, answer questions, and THANK them for all they do for the church and community. As the relationship grows, their generosity will increase. Prayerfully decide who should make the campaign pledge solicitation, and how much to ask for. The result for Holy Cross was the lead gift to their campaign from a new supporter. When they started their cultivation efforts (in the Discernment phase) and began getting to know him, they learned about his enthusiasm for their programs and his capacity to make the unanticipated six figure lead gift to their campaign.

Relationship building is Evangelism. The common thread in every capital campaign campaign is the intentionality of invitation into a deeper relationship with Christ and with each other. In a campaign we become a stronger and more inclusive community that provides friendship and meaning focused around a common effort. Offering others the opportunity to share and contribute their time, talent and money enables us all to join together and make a difference in the world.

Eleanor Roosevelt reminds us that "When you cease to make a contribution, you too begin to die."