November 21, 2013

Fundraising is Ministry

Often when people think about capital campaigns, they think about it as a necessary means to an end. Essentially, if they can only accomplish their financial goal, then they can go about doing ministry.

I believe that the process of fundraising is ministry.

I recently was at a parish in Michigan for a marketing presentation. I attended the early 8:00 am Sunday service and then, to my delight, was asked to join a group of parishioners for breakfast at the local diner. 

We talked a bit about history, children, and the weather. Then I asked each of my breakfast companions to describe what they dream about when considering a capital improvement to the parish.

What I heard was that they hoped this campaign would strengthen their community in the same way that their last campaign, 15 years ago, solidified their community. The parish dug out a basement in order to put in an undercroft. Folks can remember doing much of the labor themselves---including laboriously tossing pails of dirt out windows! Together they estimated that they donated about $100,000 worth of labor at that time. 

When they described their work together, one member said, “I can`t remember a time when our community felt more close.”

A the Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF), from our extensive work on capital campaigns, we believe a capital campaign can be considered successful when:
  • new volunteers are identified and trained
  • an ethos of giving is established and communicated
  • annual giving is increased
  • planned giving is bolstered 
  • a financial capital campaign goal is increased
  • the community is strengthened through supporting a common mission towards a goal
When thinking about a capital campaign, the process of raising funds can be similar to digging out the undercroft. One pail at a time, everyone pitching in. In the process, it is my prayer that parishes are most closely knit together. 

Do you have a story of a capital campaign increasing your sense of togetherness? How was your community impacted through work together?