Mention a church capital campaign during a church service, and you'll see eyes glaze over, fidgeting, and general discomfort. Ask for help running the campaign, and most people will be sitting on their hands so they don't accidentally volunteer.
You need to raise money, whether it's for a special project such as funding a new ministry or a building fund, or if it's just to help you meet the day-to-day expenses that go along with running a church, but you're not sure how to make the process run as smoothly as possible.
Enter the church fundraising consultant. It's your hope that this person will help you raise the money your church needs, but what should you look for when you hire a consultant? How can you know that their processes will mesh with you and your congregation, and how can you address the questions that your congregation is sure to have about fundraising? Let's touch on a few different issues that you might encounter as you integrate a fundraising consultant into your church capital campaign.
We Can Do It Ourselves!
Yes, it's true that you CAN fundraise without the assistance of a fundraising consultant. Churches have done it for centuries. However, it's been proven that churches that hire a professional to advise them raise significantly more money than those that don't—we're talking double or triple the funds you'd bring in going solo. And yes, you'll have to pay your consultant, but even when you take out the fee your consultant would charge you, you're still bringing in more money than you could without the pro's assistance.
A professional fundraising consultant has resources that you don't have. They can effectively assess your church's financial potential, design a campaign that will succeed at your church, and help you achieve your maximum financial potential within a reasonable time frame. They bring all of the knowledge and experience they've gained through previous campaigns and focus it all on fundraising for your church—even if you have a congregation that's enthusiastic about raising funds (which most churches don't have), you probably won't reach your full potential without help from a consultant.
Fundraising Seems So Secular...
Often when you think of fundraising, you probably think of charitable organizations mailing requests for money, or of the endless pledge drive on your local public radio station that sends you diving for the radio dial. Unfortunately, fundraising is a necessity for most churches; as your vision for your church's future expands, your need for cash to make these dreams a reality increases.
Granted, a secular model for fundraising probably won't work within your church. The motivation for giving to your church is very different than your motivation for giving to your favorite charity. It's important that you choose a consultant that approaches fundraising with a biblical focus; your fundraising consultant needs to understand that you're not simply fundraising, you're asking the congregation to commit their money to building the church. A bible-based approach is vital.
How Can We Trust a Professional?
When you conduct a fundraising campaign in-house, you know that your congregation will trust the people who are running it; they sit next to them in the pews, see them at bible study, or share a cup of coffee with them after the service. How can they trust an outsider with the church's funds?
At this point, it's important to do your homework. Ask around—get some recommendations from other churches. Don't settle for reference letters, call and talk to anyone the consultant you're considering has worked with and ask them about their experience. Meet the consultant face-to-face, and arrange an introduction to the congregation. A question-and-answer session can allay your congregation's fears and create a foundation of trust that will only help your campaign.
Is a Fundraising Consultant a Guarantee For Success?
Of course not—and if a fundraising consultant says that they CAN guarantee success, run the other way. However, statistically speaking, campaigns are more successful with a consultant than without one. Fundraising consultants can bring resources to your campaign that you wouldn't think of, resources that can increase your chances for meeting your goal.
Additionally, a consultant has methods of engaging a portion of the congregation that hasn't been engaged in prior fundraising attempts. They can avoid potential problems that often come up in an in-house campaign, problems that are rooted in poor communication that can undermine your campaign's forward momentum. More importantly, your fundraising consultant will free up your pastor to actually do his or her job—tending to the flock!
Fundraising is a vital part of growing your church; it's too important to put it in jeopardy by refusing to get professional help from a fundraising consultant. A consultant will not only help you with this campaign, but can help you build the infrastructure for fundraising campaigns for the future.
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