The fifth and final phase of a capital campaign is all about a commitment to consistent communication. Here, Paul Gage explains why this is so critical, and how to make sure it happens.
You mentioned that during Phase 5, church leaders will focus their communications on a few specific groups: those who have made financial commitments, and church leadership. Explain.
Among those who have made pledges, we sometimes can segment those people and communicate accordingly. For example, if 60 percent of the congregation made a financial commitment, within that 60 percent might be a very small group of people who made large pledges. For this group, you might have special meetings or discussions to keep them well-informed of how the ministry and projects are going, because they’re making a very significant financial investment in church’s future.
Then, there’s church leadership. We must keep them fully informed so they can continue to influence the people they lead regarding the positive developments in the church and the ministries that are impacting people’s lives. Everyone needs to be a positive voice, and the best way to do that is to keep the leaders motivated and well-informed.
The third group are those that have made pledges and are regular attenders of the church. They also need to be well-informed and involved.
As a church leader develops a follow-up communication strategy, what components or strategies that work across the board?
Words of encouragement. When I say that, I mean delivering positive information to the congregation, especially during worship services. This is an ideal time to share updates and good things that are taking place related to the capital campaign.
Quarterly financial reports for each individual pledge. Sending quarterly status reports keeps everyone informed and up-to-date on their pledge. Especially if it’s a three-year campaign, many people lose sight of where they are in terms of their financial commitment.
Video updates. A lot of churches show video updates every month during the campaign — often during worship services, but also on their website and in e-communications. One church we’re working with is doing a $20-million capital campaign, which includes expanding its global missions. They adopted an orphanage in Haiti. They sent their people to help build the facility, manage and oversee it. They also had people taking video footage and ministering to the kids, making them feel loved and welcomed. When the church show those videos back home, the church family’s hearts are about to explode. They just want to continue supporting the ministry.
Social media. More and more churches are using social media forums to communicate. In the modern digital age, we try to take advantage of that for consistent communication.
You emphasized the importance of offering “on-ramps to giving” throughout the campaign, right up and into Phase 5. What do those look like?
For multi-year campaigns, we recommend having annual commitment and offering weekends. It’s a mistake to have one initial pledge and commitment service at the beginning, and then hope for the best for the remaining three years. That annual commitment weekend brings new people on board financially.
Other onramps can be offered two or three times a year as special offerings, and they might be tied directly to a project. For an example, a church we’re working with is building a new children’s wing. Its location is where the church parking used to be, so they have to add parking spaces. We broke down the cost of adding 100 new parking spaces — about $1,500 each — and gave people the opportunity to invest in one, or commit to paying for one for 90 days. Any creative special gift of offering opportunity we can do is an onramp to giving. And we find a lot of people will give to those who maybe didn’t otherwise make a pledge to the campaign.
Financial seminars and workshops are another onramp. In a three-year capital campaign, a lot of churches might have one or two of these, led by an up-to-date financial or estate planner. This is good for people who might want to have a living trust or to establish the church as a beneficiary in their estate.
Debt-reduction workshops or seminars are another onramp. Especially over the course of a few years, this frees up more resources to support God’s work.
What percentage of pledges should a church realistically expect to collect by the time Phase 5 concludes?
In a two- or three-year campaign, most churches will collect 75 percent to 80 percent of what’s pledged. To exceed that, the things we’ve talked about in this installment are essential: consistent communication; commitment and offering weekends; onramps to giving. If a church is good at all these, it will greatly benefit the fulfilment of pledges.
And, as more people come into the church, it has greater potential to exceed 85 percent. If a church collects 90 percent to 95 percent of what’s pledged, it’s because it has done a great job in all these areas.
— Reporting by RaeAnn Slaybaugh
Paul Gage is founder and president of The Gage Group in Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX.