How to Move People from the Sidelines to Full Engagement in Your Next Capital Campaign

My first memory of a capital campaign forms the image of a 2×3 foot poster neatly taped to a wall with a hand-drawn thermometer on it. I was ten years old and my church was raising $50,000 (an inconceivable sum and thus an insurmountable goal) to “save the camp.” I still remember my surprise when success was announced. What had I missed? Is a camp really worth $50,000? Somewhat awestruck I asked myself, “Who among us has that kind of money to spare?”

As a Vision Clarity Lead Navigator with Auxano, I also help clients with capital campaigns from a clarity first perspective. I’ve found that the two questions I asked myself as a ten-year-old get more sophisticated, but they don’t really change. Until our folks internalize why we are doing this project right now, they will be watching from the sidelines wondering why we’re talking about money (again) and who is going to step up.

A Clarity First, Vision-based Capital Campaign prioritizes why and how the project will advance your church’s mission. Follow the classic campaign principle to make the project clear, but make sure the vision that is driving it shines clearer. A clear and properly ordered connection between your vision and the project will not only help you reach your campaign goals, but it can also prevent the project from replacing the church’s vision. A building-first vision has long been a danger to the people of God and transforms a necessary provision of your vision into a significant obstacle. At worst, a congregation can lose its identity entirely and degenerate into a not-for-profit charity or construction company.

Vision Casting for a Campaign:

  • Frame the campaign in the context of God’s action in the history of the church.
  • Show how the project will help you advance the church’s mission.
  • Paint a vivid picture of the better future the project can help to create.
  • Connect your congregation emotionally with why we are doing this now.
  • Each person has a place in making the project happen.
  • Your mission is part of the larger Great Commission.

From three-minute conversations, to an entire sermon series, we want our folks to envision a better future and see how they can help make it happen.

Thinking back over the decades since my first memory of the $50,000 campaign to save the camp, I can see that I had no better ability as a ten-year-old to understand the real world value of $50,000 than I did a camp. However, if someone could have given me a glimpse into the future for me to see the role that camp was going to play in my spiritual formation (and thousands of others) over the following decades…the camp would have become priceless and $50,000 would have been transformed from an inconceivable sum into a mission-critical objective.

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Mike Gammill

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