Should We Have a Second Campaign?

Yesterday, I got a call from a minister who wanted to talk about what to expect from a follow-up campaign. His church was finishing up a campaign that added a significant addition and now wants to pay off the remaining debt. He asked a question that I get a lot which is, "What can we expect in a second campaign that is all for debt?" It is not a simple answer, but here are factors you can use to help you if you find your church in this situation.

  1. Has the investment persons made in the new facilities brought a positive return? If you added youth facilities, do you have more youth? If you added worship space, have more persons been coming to worship and becoming disciples? If persons perceive that they made a good investment they will continue to invest.
  2. Do you have many significant new donors? Persons who have not invested before and are excited about your ministries can be some of your top leaders in a second campaign. If you still have essentially the same donor base you will find that many cannot duplicate their previous gift.
  3. Does this campaign have a chance to pay off, or substantially reduce your debt or just make a dent in it? Persons are highly motivated to pay off or greatly reduce the threat debt poses to their church. However, if all you can say is that it will help pay the note for three more years and people can count on having another campaign three years from now for exactly the same thing, then the response will be diminished greatly.
  4. What has happened with your clergy leadership? If the previously successful building campaign was led by one pastor and now there is another, this can have an effect on the response. If it is the same leader then it is easy and logical for this person to ask people to join him/her in finishing what they started. If there has been a change, the circumstances around that change can make a difference either positive or negative.
  5. Are you paying your interest from the operating budget or from the capital proceeds? If you are currently using capital proceeds to pay 100% of your note, your campaign will be harder to sell to the congregation. If, on the other hand, you are paying interest from your operating budget and thus the capital campaign will go ALL against the debt, your people will be more motivated to give.

These five questions, when answered, will help give you an idea of whether your debt campaign will be successful or not.


J. Clif Christopher is author of several books on stewardship and leads Horizon Stewardship, a team of financial consultants happy to talk with your church about your particular challenges with fundraising.

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