A Church Capital Campaign Can Raise Astonishing Amounts—If You Do This

In just two or three years, you can raise 200–300% of your normal operating budget by running a church capital campaign.1 

That astounding stat comes from Smart Church Finances: A Pastor’s Guide to Budgets, Spreadsheets, and Other Things You Didn’t Learn in Seminary. It continues: 

You can normally estimate two-thirds of your congregation to contribute something to a capital campaign, but roughly eighty percent of the funding will come from only twenty percent of your most faithful donors.2

So how do you get two-thirds of your congregation to cheerfully give—and give more than they usually would? As you can imagine, you can’t just keep reminding people, “We’re raising money for x. Don’t forget to give!” for three years and expect offerings to flow in. 

So how do you go about running a church capital campaign that enables you to achieve your vision and do more for the kingdom?

The first step is this: keep it simple. Sounds good. No one likes complicated.

But what does that actually look like when you’re planning a campaign? 

Find out in the below excerpt from the free guide, 4 Tips for an Epic Church Giving Campaign—and avoid some common blunders.

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No matter how grand and well-executed your vision, your giving campaign must be simple to succeed. That’s because you need your congregation to be excited about a shared goal, and to do that, you need a simple message they can grasp quickly. 

Think back to the fundraisers you did in high school. How many grimy cars did you wash? How many batches of brownies did you bake? On paper, raising money for church camp doesn’t look like fun. Yet anyone watching you and your friends scrub tires probably thought you were having the time of your life. What put the “fun” back in “fundraising”? Easy: you were part of a group that united for a single, common cause. That sense of togetherness made raising money exciting. 

That kind of single-minded eagerness is what sparks momentum in a church’s giving campaign. So, where do you begin? 

I suggest that you start building excitement by making your campaign goals as simple as you can. A simple goal doesn’t have to be a small goal. If you have an ambitious goal, go for it! But try to avoid overly complex messaging. As Jon Acuff says, “If you ever have to do a complicated, multistep explanation to say why what you’re doing is valuable, it probably isn’t.”3

Here’s why that’s important:

1. People won’t give to something they don’t understand. 

If your givers are confused about why you’re asking them to give or what they’re giving to, giving probably won’t be a priority. But when people know how their money makes the church mission a reality, they feel like they’re a part of your campaign. They’re motivated by how each gift empowers your church to do more kingdom work. And that’s one mark of a cheerful giver.

2. It’s hard to build momentum if it takes too long to explain. Ever sat through a lecture that drones on forever? Even Eutychus fell asleep when Paul preached too long (Acts 20:7–12). It’s the same principle here. The last thing you want is for your givers’ eyes to gloss over when you’re still explaining the first point. You can talk about your giving campaign in a way that’s simple, memorable, and easy to say again and again (because you and your campaign team will be saying it for years).

3. Your giving campaign message has to be portable. Those words are going to show up everywhere—websites, postcards, giving envelopes, videos, and so on. So make your giving campaign message simple enough that the main point fits anywhere. 

This kind of simplicity makes it easy for people to support the cause—and feel great about doing it. While your campaign is bigger than a high school fundraiser, you can make your giving campaign simple by taking a little time to find one message that explains the vision behind all your fundraising goals. 

Free ebook on running a church capital campaign

I recommend starting with this insight from Luke Sullivan, a well-known advertising writer: “Write down the truest thing you can say about your [church].”4 But as you answer that question, don’t think about what the campaign will do for your church—paying for a new bus is too narrow of a goal. Rather, think about how the campaign will affect the way your church ministers to the community. 

For example, my church ran the Advance Initiative, a three-year campaign that sought to “advance the gospel in our community, throughout the world, and in the next generation.” Those were tied to specific goals: 

  • Pay down our mortgage, so we could refinance and put more money into local ministry (advance the gospel in our community) 
  • Increase our missions budget from 5% to 10% (advance the gospel throughout the world) 
  • Make room for more children’s ministry space in our building (advance the gospel in the next generation)

Our campaign name, Advance Initiative, helped people catch the vision for what we aimed to accomplish: advance the gospel. And our three main goals made it clear how we would accomplish it. We also used our Advance logo often to help people remember the campaign purpose. 

So how can you make your giving campaign message simple? 

First, if you have more than one goal, write them on one short list. Try to find common ground between your goals so you can organize them into high-level categories (such as building renovation and listing each project you hope to complete). What’s the main thing you’re praying that all these goals will accomplish? 

Next, use action words to describe your campaign’s impact. Is your aim to send a short-term missions team in a new bus, reach new people in your area by building a new facility, or mobilize college students for ministry? Powerful verbs give your initiative a sense of momentum. 

Finally, build a campaign name around those goals. It can either be the same name (like “Reach”) or something inspired by your goals, like “Advance.” Naming your campaign helps your congregation understand the main point and feel like they’re part of something significant. 

By thinking through the ways your goals will impact your ministry and your community, it’s easier to tap into a simple message your members will remember.

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Don’t miss three more tips for running an epic church capital campaign. Get your free guide now!

And if your church doesn’t yet have a way to raise capital through online giving and texting to give, you can set it up today with easy-to-use, features-loaded Faithlife Giving.

Free ebook on running a church capital campaign

  1. George M. Hillman, John Reece, Smart Church Finances: A Pastor’s Guide to Budgets, Spreadsheets, and Other Things You Didn’t Learn in Seminary, Lexham Press, p. 115.
  2. Hillman, p. 115.
  3. Jon Acuff, Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done, Penguin Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, p. 78.
  4. Sullivan, Luke, and Edward Boches. Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great Ads. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2016, p. 48
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Written by
Mary Jahnke

Mary Jahnke is a content marketing specialist. She has a background in marketing, especially for Christian education, and feels blessed to serve the Church at Faithlife.

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Written by Mary Jahnke