January 15, 2018

The Capital Campaign Kick-Off : the Challenge of Forward Momentum

One purpose of the Kick-Off Celebration in a capital campaign is to create a memorable event in the life of a congregation. Such an event requires hard work by many people of the congregation. Special invitations are mailed to parishioners and if the RSVP is not returned, individuals are called to encourage them to attend.

During this period of preparation, the Advance Phase of the campaign is conducted that requires Gift Worker training and calling on people to make a major pledge to the campaign. The Gift Workers make personal calls on members of the congregation with a brochure that has been carefully prepared. At the Kick-Off dinner a dramatic announcement is made to reveal that between 50% and 80% of the campaign has pledged toward the goal. Often the announcement is welcomed with great applause and hope that the campaign goal can be reached.

Given that so much preparation and hard work has been expended to this point, there is a tendency to take some time off from the campaign. After all, up to 80% of the goal has been reached by the Advance Gifts!

I hesitate to utilize sports metaphors but since the phrase kick-off is the common reference to a capital campaign event, I remind congregations that a kick-off is the manner in which a football game begins. A primary purpose of a Kick-Off Celebration is to raise enthusiasm about the campaign and to encourage everyone to participate so that the goal is reached. Momentum is critical to any fund-raising event and the time to begin the Congregational gift phase is the week following the Kick Off Celebration.

A common reference to a capital campaign is a Gifts Essential Chart. The chart indicates how many gifts are necessary in certain gift ranges to reach the goal. Understandably, the emphasis is on the major gifts needed. No campaign reaches its goal without major gift contributors.

As you look down the chart to the lesser amounts, you will notice that the number of possible givers goes up. In fact, a majority of the congregation will be found in this phase that requires many calls and contacts. The chart indicates that these gifts are just as essential as the advance gifts. A congregation does not reach the goal without everyone’s participation.

In an annual campaign it is common knowledge that obtaining the last 20% of pledges requires much work and is the most difficult to complete. However, this 20% can make the difference as to whether or not budgetary goals are reached for the following year.

There is nothing like a Kick-Off Celebration during a capital campaign. Parishioners will remember how much they enjoyed preparing for the event and how their time together energized the congregation. As you turn out the lights at the end of the Kick-Off Celebration, remember that you are just beginning to enter a significant phase of the campaign that has everything to do with reaching the goal of the campaign. Similar to a football game, while the kick-off is part of the game, our eyes remain focused on the goal.

Learn about the ECF capital campaign process here.