The optimal capital campaign timeline (for all but the small church capital campaign) from beginning of preparation and planning until commitment Sunday is at least 23 weeks. After this, there is a giving period of 1 to 3 years (with 3 years being typical). The capital campaign timeline can be adapted to your church’s schedule, but do not try to rush it if you can help it. You will have a much more effective campaign, and will cause a lot less wear and tear on your church’s capital campaign team, if you allow yourself plenty of time. Recently one of our clients made this suggestion:
“If I could offer just one piece of advice, it would be to give your church plenty of time to prepare for the campaign.”
There are several aspects of a capital campaign that benefit from more time, especially vision casting and donor development. Shortening the timeline does not reduce the amount of work that needs to happen, it just gives you less time to accomplish that work. A shorter timeline will mean more effort and stress for your people, and can reduce the spiritual and financial benefit to the church.
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When preparing for a capital campaign, time is your friend. Depending on the size of your church, it can take from three, to as much as twelve, months to have enough time to prepare for and execute a capital campaign. While church size is definitely a factor in setting the timeline, other factors can also affect the amount of time you should take in preparation:
- Church capital campaigns raise money for specific capital projects, like construction, renovation, or large capital purchases. If there is not a widespread, high level of excitement, unity, and support, among the people, the church should take more time to make the case for support.
- If the amount to be raised is at the higher end of the normal range of results, or will need to be a real stretch, this would certainly be an indicator that you should take more preparation time in order to increase the odds of reaching your financial goal.
- If your church does not already have a culture of generosity and sacrificial giving, more preparation time will allow you to improve giving on a week by week basis, thereby transforming the giving patterns of your members for a lifetime, not just 3 years.
- A lack of experience at successful capital fundraising is another reason to take your time. The more time you have to spiritually and tactically equip your staff and campaign team, the more effective the campaign will be.
Time is your friend in a church capital campaign:
- Time to get the right people involved
- Time to do proper donor development
- Time to create a culture of generosity
- Time to do the work without burning anyone out
- Time to make the most spiritual impact
- Time to ensure that your people do not feel like the campaign was “shoved down their throat”
- Time to do it right as opposed to just “good enough”
Anything worth doing is worth doing right. Taking a little extra time will definitely reap both spiritual and financial rewards.