Step Three – Timing
What is the Best Timing for Us
Once you have defined readiness, often the attention turns to “What is the best timeline for us to begin construction and to start raising funds for the project?” In Step 2, we talked about poor timing as a potential factor to failed projects and capital campaign efforts. In this section, learn the different factors that will help you turn timing into a positive. Numerous pastors and church leaders are ready to move forward quickly and believe a capital campaign can happen in a brief 4 to 6-week window before funds are needed. The truth is if you do this, you are simply holding a fundraiser. Yes, a fundraiser will do just that: raise funds. However, it won’t help you reach anywhere near your potential AND it won’t grow your people like a capital stewardship program effort. A larger scale and more strategic effort will engage more of your people by walking them through a season of education and understanding about sacrificial giving. As an added bonus, this allows leadership to cast the long-term vision. The goal for your capital stewardship program should be to transform giving in your church. By creating a narrow window for casting vision, many congregation members will simply transfer their giving from the budget to the building. Basically, borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.
Understanding All Necessary Steps
When the campaign calendar is too compressed, you lose the ability to communicate. The effort becomes about the money instead of a spiritual process to grow your people. A well thought out process will create clear vision and unity. A strong capital stewardship program will give you the opportunity to connect and communicate with your people in ways you possibly have not in the past.
When electing to conduct a capital campaign, in order to reach your fullest potential, timing is important but allowing enough time is everything. Ideally, are phases you can expect in a capital program:
- Preparation Phase – This is a 3-4 month lead up to the actual public phase. Calendaring, planning, involvement, and communication strategies are all organized and implemented during this time.
- Public Phase – This is the 6 to 8-week period leading up to a time of church wide commitment. These 6-8 weeks need to be mostly uninterrupted by other programs. There are certain times of the year when this should NEVER occur including summer and Christmas.
- Giving Phase – The campaign is not finished after receiving commitments. Most churches who want to reach their full potential select a two or three year giving phase. Unfortunately, churches will never receive anywhere near 100% of what was committed because they do not have a good communication plan for the entire giving phase. A consulting partner with a track record of having a good communication plan and follow-up can be the difference between receiving 100% of commitments versus 70% of pledges.
When is the Best Time to Schedule a Capital Campaign?
After understanding the phases of the campaign, the next logical question is “When is the best time of year to conduct a campaign?” The truth is that many times of the year can work as long as you allow for enough prep time. The public phase can occur at many times of the year. Over the first half of the year, mid-January though late May is a popular time for the 6-8 public phase. In addition, post-Labor Day to mid-December are effective times in the later part of the year. Furthermore, avoid anything during summer and mid-December to early January, except preparation. There is a long-lasting debate whether fall or springs campaigns are better. They both have their strengths. Fall campaigns allow the opportunity to tie into year-end giving. However, early year campaign can be very unifying. Taking the time to cast the vision for the upcoming year can be very important as the calendar turns over. Assessing priorities for the New Year are always a win.