Alan Wildes

Alan Wildes

5 steps for Capital Campaign “Buy-In”

“We needed more buy-in from the people.” 

In the 18 years that I’ve been coaching churches through capital campaigns, I’ve heard some of the same comments made many times at the end of a campaign process.  Like we discussed in my post last week (3 Questions To Ask BEFORE You Start A Capital Campaign), these churches always have some “Aha!” moments.

Below is real life example from a church I was recently asked to work with:

  • Leaders began the discussions about a project almost 2 years before unveiling the plans to the people.
  • Leaders met at least monthly during this time, shared thousands of emails, developed hundreds of documents (in multiple versions) and had more phone calls than can be counted. The amount of information shared during the development process between team members was unprecedented in their church.
  • The plans were finalized and the leaders were pumped! They were ready to reveal the plan for the project.
  • A town hall meeting was scheduled for a Sunday right after worship and they did not offer lunch or childcare.
  • The pastor wrote the cover of the next month’s printed newsletter and discussed the importance of the town hall meeting.
  • The home page of the website had the same letter from the pastor.
  • An email was sent out to remind people of the town hall meeting and the church wide vote to be held two weeks after that.
  • The vote was scheduled on a Sunday night with no plans for childcare.

Here’s what happened:

  • The town hall was a disaster because the leadership team had not prepared for the Q&A.
  • Less supporters show up at the Congregational Vote than the town hall meeting. The vote is passed, but only by a small margin.
  • The leadership decided to move forward with the project, yet were surprised when the campaign was not as successful as they hoped.
  • They were able to move forward with their project. but it had to be scaled back.

Capital Campaign “Aha” moment:

“We needed MUCH more buy-in from the congregation before we launched this campaign!”

How can a church who is about to launch a major capital campaign avoid this scenario?  Here are a few tips:

  1. Go slowly! Leaders must remember; 99% of the congregation has no clue about the project when you are ready to reveal.  They are where you were two years ago when you began the project discussion.
  2. Communicate! When planning the town hall meeting and the congregation vote, use every media outlet available to you to distribute the message.  Worship, video, website, email, newsletter, letter, Facebook, Twitter, carrier pigeon, etc.
  3. Go back to #2. Lather, rinse, repeat.  Tell them what you have already told them.  This all needs to be done BEFORE any type of town hall meeting or small gatherings for Q&A.  You want to ask AND answer as many questions possible and as thoroughly as possible before leaders are in front of people fielding questions.  You will need to do this AGAIN after the town hall and before the Congregation Vote.
  4. Work the calendar. Schedule the town hall meetings and congregation vote at times that are convenient for people.  Offer multiple dates, times, and venues.  Make sure there is food and childcare available.  You want people to attend, right?
  5. Leverage the worship hour.  As the vote date draws near, be sure to leverage the worship hour for final vision casting and communicating common themes which arose during the previous weeks.  Show the people you are paying attention.  Utilize the worship time for this type of communication; you have everyone’s undivided attention for 1 hour.

If you’d like to hear how another church did everything as “right” as possible leading up to their wildly successful capital campaign in the spring of 2017, please reach out to me as I’d love to share that with you.

Given the topic of this post, I also wanted to offer you a great resource from Generis to ensure that you’re prepared for your next initiative and get the best results possible. This free eBook is titled, “Common Mistakes In A Church Capital Campaign” and you can download it by clicking HERE.

In addition to listing the common mistakes made during capital campaigns, this resource will offer a free analysis of campaign potential, a checklist of what to do before entering into a campaign, and much more.

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