The past couple of years have been busy! Activities include a return campaign in Virginia, multi-church campaigns and event coordination via a local meal packing non-profit and periodic consultation with Edward Waters College Athletic Boosters. I continue to be involved with church and non-profit fundraising, stewardship and board management both at home and away. Looking forward to speaking with you about how to fund your capital needs.
When to call in a fundraising consultant? Before or after planning?
I have been involved with numerous churches that did both. The most seamless transitions, from planning - to study - to successful campaign, involved those churches that sought my counsel the earliest in their planning. This helped clarify expectations in all phases. Just a few examples:
• What are some positive steps to take even prior to meeting with an architect?• What are some positive steps to take during planning?• What is feasible calendar-wise within the next six months…the next year?• What needs are driving the case for a potential campaign?• What stage to actively retain fundraising counsel?• What committees should be formed…? When committees should be formed?• What are the expected timetables for a pre-campaign study…for a potential campaign?• What should a well-run fundraising campaign be expected to raise within the most general parameters?
You have to admit, these are all good questions a church or committee would like to know at an early juncture. That’s why I would encourage any church exploring construction, renovations, deferred maintenance, etc., to contact a fundraising consultant early on.
From start to finish, Compton will be honored to provide you with helpful answers based on over 20 years of experience guiding churches through successful capital campaigns.
Your Privacy Matters
Like any professional directing a capital campaign, I have to access and utilize church members’ personal information. Everyone realizes this is a necessity. Volunteers have to be able to contact members in person when the time comes. The campaign office is continually using the information for coordinating personal visits as well as mailing bulletins and invitations, etc. What happens to this information once Compton or any other firm leaves a campaign site?
I cannot speak for other firms, but included in Compton’s proposals:
Those being visited during the campaign can expect, and will receive, the utmost confidentiality
when making their gift. Any confidential information provided by a donor or by the Client
will be treated in a secure and confidential manner. Moreover, names, telephone numbers,
e-mail addresses, physical addresses and gift amounts are not re-sold or provided by Compton
to any other entity or organization.
Some firms do not promise this and, therefore, may subsequently “mine” your church listing later for other projects. When Compton directs your capital campaign, every precaution is taken regarding your church members’ privacy. Of course, at the conclusion of each campaign all clients are provided a complete written and digital record of the campaign-in full. Usually, this is provided to the appropriate and agreed upon parties (church treasurer, campaign treasurer, bookkeeper, etc.). However, what Compton has collected stays with Compton…and goes nowhere else.
Completing the Circle
I’ve had the pleasure this year to visit a few churches where I have previously worked. Two of them celebrated the completion of their construction/renovation projects that were launched with a study and subsequent campaign in the recent past. This is a most rewarding and gratifying feeling.
The way we typically draw up our plans is to secure accurate project estimates, raise the needed funds through gifts and pledges, complete the project and have everything paid off within the three to five-year fulfillment period. Though the consecration/dedication of a new facility is exciting and very much worthy of celebration, there are usually some questions that still remain.
During my visits back to previous campaign sites, there are rarely few surprises as I’ve kept up with the clergy and campaign workers during that time. I have been pleased to advise churches on some of these subsequent issues with the best council I can provide in relation to anecdotes involving other churches and standard fundraising practices.
Whether paid in full upon completion of the fulfillment period or some debt remains, all projects are dedicated to the Glory of God. The projects we seek to complete are aimed at better serving those currently worshiping and those who will come due to the improved facilities. Our campaigns are often based upon the premise that a project that improves a church’s ministries should both deepen the commitment of those currently worshiping as well as those yet to come. As time passes, these are two results of a well-run campaign that should provide hope to any church facing subsequent debt.
The last time you contributed what you thought was a sacrificial or considerable gift/pledge to your church, or any organization for that matter, do you feel you were properly acknowledged? By this, I don’t just mean did you receive a thank-you letter. That should, of course, be included as a courtesy to all donors. Other factors are important as well.
During Compton-directed campaigns, great pains are taken to ensure donor acknowledgements are accurate. Capital campaign pledges are somewhat more varied in nature than regular annual pledges. There is a longer time frame to consider as well as the fact that donors are able to structure their pledges and payment intervals to their liking over this period. So, we first want to make sure that the campaign office correctly understands donors’ intentions, as they were stated on their signed pledge cards.
Who will sign these acknowledgement letters? As the campaign consultant, I do not sign these. It is far better for some leader from the church to do so. In my experience, campaign thank-you or acknowledgment letters have been signed by: clergy, campaign chairs or co-chairs, church treasurers, campaign treasurers or a combination of the above. My campaign office prepares the acknowledgements but an acknowledgement from a leader of the church or a representative of the campaign carries far more meaning.
Campaign acknowledgment letters go out on campaign stationary with the names of the steering committee members listed. Matching envelopes with attractive labels come from the campaign office, not the church office and staff.
What else? To add a more personalized touch, some churches have included personalized notes from the campaign steering committee along with the “requisite” acknowledgment letters. Some have included artwork from children’s Sunday School classes illustrating their ideas of what the finished project would look like. Still others have included invitations to join the campaign steering committee for a celebration once the campaign was finished. These additions are welcomed and coordinated by the campaign office.
All this is done to ensure that not only is the donor thanked, but they are properly acknowledged from top to bottom and A to Z; further increasing the credibility of campaign leaders and the process.