Get organized! 3 priorities for a successful campaign

In this series installment, Paul Gage — who has consulted more than 500 church capital campaigns, with results exceeding $1 billion — focuses on the second phase of a campaign: Organization. According to Gage, the three most critical components of this phase are Prayer, Presentation and Preaching.

Generally speaking, when a church does a good job in the Organization phase of its capital campaign, what does that look like?

Recently, I concluded a very successful campaign with a church in Fresno, CA. They needed to build a brand-new, state-of-the-art children’s facility — the largest project in their 25-year history.
CREATIVE PROVEN MACHINEWith a campaign strategy, calendar and leadership team in place as part of the first phase (Preparation), I started to meet consistently with the leadership team to begin the Organization phase. The church is large enough — running about 2,000 in attendance — that it was a staff-led campaign. That meant the leadership team had full-time, day-to-day responsibilities. Pursuing a major capital initiative would require of them additional time, expertise and work. So, it was imperative that the Organization phase of the campaign be designed to ensure they had appropriate time to complete the work.
Over a 90-day period, we were able to have numerous on-site meetings to train and organize each team. I provided the training materials and communication resources they needed for this phase of the campaign. During the time I was away from the church, the leadership team had one or two meetings on its own to mobilize the plan.
The goal was to organize the team, meet regularly, and communicate frequently to hit targeted deadlines and avoid taking any shortcuts.

How does the PRAYER component of the Organization phase shape up?
It all begins with prayer, and it is paramount to everything we do in this spiritual journey. We make prayer a priority, which means that everyone participates. We ask churches to establish a prayer emphasis during the public-facing phase of the campaign. Usually, that ranges from three to four weeks.
During the 90-day Organization period, we get all prayer materials prepared for distribution. Depending on the church, prayer / devotional guides must be written, produced and printed so they can be handed out during worship service. Some churches use social media and websites to post daily or weekly devotions. Churches that are advanced in their data collection practices can distribute the prayer / devotional guides electronically via email, text or even their church app.

In your experience, what 3-4 PRESENTATION elements are most effective, whether a pastor is speaking to the entire congregation or a small, select group of givers?
In the Fresno church, the objective of the presentations was to get the pastor in front of as many people as possible to communicate four things:
#1: Purpose. He addressed the “what” and the “why” of the campaign. (What: building a new children’s facility. Why: to meet a growing demand for children’s ministry, to reach the next generation, and to bringing new families into the church.)
#2: Timing. In this same church — once the congregation knew the “what” and “why” — they wanted to know when. There had to be a finish line. When do we break ground? How long will it it take to build the facility? When can we invite our friends and the community to be a part of it?
#3: Ministry benefits. When a presentation is effective, the audience walks away knowing everything they need to know to support the campaign. In the Fresno church, the pastor talked about safety and security measures for the children, and how the brand-new, state-of-the-art facility would improve methods and classrooms. It would have a theatre atmosphere, using art and music. It would be more enjoyable, more exciting and their experience will have a lasting impact by hearing the life-changing message of Christ.
#4: Financial plan. Once people are excited and “all in,” they want to know how the church plans to pay for the project. Key questions: What’s the cost? Will there be any financing? If so, can the church afford additional debt?
And then, it gets personal: What’s expected of me? To pray? To seek the Lord in this level of commitment to generous giving? Will I be asked for a one-time gift, or can I give over a period of time?

How has the PREACHING component of the Organization phase evolved or changed over time?
Leading up to a capital campaign, pastors are doing a better job casting the vision — getting people spiritually prepared, and conveying how the campaign will help fulfill the church’s mission, locally and globally.
They’re also doing a lot more teaching and instruction. While the Fresno church pastor delivered a preaching series — which was very powerful — he also shared a video series of life-changing testimonies and introduced the future impact the church will have in the community. One Sunday service, he invited the children’s pastor to present the new children’s programs and cool things the church would be doing in the new space.
Members got a lot more than a sermon; they got a real visual aid for how this project would reach children, families and the community for generations to come.

— Reporting by RaeAnn Slaybaugh

Paul Gage is founder and president of The Gage Group in Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX.

In future installments, Paul Gage will discuss expert strategies related to the remaining three phases of capital campaigns: the Campaign itself, Commitment and Giving / Follow-up.


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