Church Capital Campaigns | The All-Inclusive Guide for Churches

Tithes and offerings can support your daily church activities, but general fundraising will not be enough when more significant needs arise. If your church is growing and needs to build a larger facility, it needs restoration, or you have been called to a mission that requires additional land or a building, a capital campaign may…

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Church Capital Campaigns | The All-Inclusive Guide for Churches

church capital campaign

Tithes and offerings can support your daily church activities, but general fundraising will not be enough when more significant needs arise. If your church is growing and needs to build a larger facility, it needs restoration, or you have been called to a mission that requires additional land or a building, a capital campaign may be necessary.

Capital campaigns are huge undertakings, and if you have no experience in this area, you are not alone. Very few churches have the staff or volunteer with this expertise. If you are a part of one of those churches, worry not! This article will walk you through the steps you need to take for a successful church capital campaign. It really isn’t very different from typical fundraising but requires attention to the goal of your capital campaign, and a strong campaign set-up.

We will also give you a few tips and mistakes to avoid in your planning.

  1. What is a Church Capital Campaign?
  2. Is a Capital Campaign Biblical?
  3. 7 Steps to a Successful Church Capital Campaign
  4. 5 Powerful Church Capital Campaign Ideas
  5. 4 Mistakes to Avoid During Your Capital Campaign
  6. 3 Great Examples of Church Capital Campaigns

What is a Church Capital Campaign?

Churches generally run capital campaigns when they need to purchase land or construct a new building. A new building is a happy event! As your church grows physically, it will also grow spiritually. Capital campaigns give church members the chance to participate and give more to facilitate your church’s mission. The opportunity to spread God’s word farther and with more people is an honor and gift for any church.

Is a Capital Campaign Biblical?

Your church was built to spread God’s word. The bible tells us to share God’s story with the world. The growth of your church means you’re succeeding in this mission! The need for a new building to reach more and share God’s message with a larger community is thanks to God’s blessings and power. As members of God’s family, we are all asked to help in this mission.

7 Steps to a Successful Church Capital Campaign

Planning a capital campaign can be overwhelming for anyone. Churches may feel lost in this process. We have listed the steps to follow for a successful capital campaign below. As you follow these steps, find areas to spread God’s word and fulfill your church’s mission.

1. Know Why You’re Doing It

Any church’s capital campaigns have longer-term goals, such as to purchase land for building a new church or to build a new church or a new facility, to build a school, or to remodel a part of the church building. If your church’s mission is to spread God’s word to more people, the campaign goal must be to help you propagate your church’s mission further. It is crucial to establish the reason for your church capital campaign – this is essential in order to clearly communicate to your members, congregants and donors as you collect donations for the capital campaign.

2. Form a Team

Capital campaigns can take anywhere between one to three years and will involve several fundraising and marketing activities. To ensure the success of your campaign, you must encourage more involvement from church members and leadership.

Asking for more money to construct a new building, even a church, is not an easy task. Before taking any other step, you must find volunteers, staff, and church leaders like deacons and board members to join your fundraising team.

Pro tip: Be open to hiring experts when needed. Fundraising and marketing experts will help with years of knowledge and experience in running capital campaigns.

3. Create a Feasibility Study

Once your team has been constructed, it is time to determine the feasibility of your campaign. Your goal to build a new building is just a dream at this point, but is it even possible? There are several questions you must ask to see if you can reach your goal?

A few of the questions you should ask yourself are below:

  • Will staff and church leadership help you reach your goals?
  • Do you have any other resources?
  • Can you get the needed permits for a new building? Or any other legal requirements to reach your goal?
  • Can your church members afford the capital campaign on their own, or will you need outside financial support?
  • Who on your team can help reach out to the community?
  • When is the best time to hold your capital campaign?

When creating this study, be sure to research and interview your staff and volunteers to answer these questions. The answers to these questions will help prepare you for the upcoming campaign and any potential missteps.

4. Set Fundraising Goals

Now that you have created a feasibility study, you must decide on your financial goals and how to reach them during this capital campaign.

Donorbox Church Fundraising

4.1 Fundraising and marketing costs

Capital campaigns will likely need several different fundraising activities to help you reach the total amount. Your capital campaign costs should include the design and printing for mailed brochures and other appeals. You will also need to add an online donation processor to allow church members to give directly on your website. Marketing materials, online donation processors, and other fundraising campaigns will cost money and must be planned for during your campaign.

4.2 Past successes and failures

Fundraising is not done in a vacuum. Your church has already raised money for different activities and maintenance issues. Past fundraising events will give you a better idea of how much can be raised with church offerings and tithes and additional fundraising activities. It will also give you a better idea of how much you will need to raise from outside sources.

4.3 Donors

Most churches can raise anywhere between 2.5 to 3 times their annual income over a three-year capital campaign. When planning a capital campaign, you must split your church members into different donor levels and determine where each member fits. Donors able to give more than a thousand dollars or more will require different messages than donors who give less than one hundred.

Donorbox offers affordable donor management tools to churches. Your members’ gifts, biographical information, and notes on their interests can be added and updated at any time. You can also segment your donors and improve your fundraising appeals accordingly. Your donors, in turn, get a donor portal wherein they can manage their donation plans, donation receipts, and use our QuickDonate feature to repeat a donation on the go. Check out this Donorbox video to learn how this feature can be absolutely essential for the ease of giving and thus, your campaign’s success.

5. Create Your Capital Campaign Plan

Now you can start planning specific ways to reach your fundraising goal.

5.1 Campaign dates

Determining your campaign’s launch and end dates is critical to the success of your campaign. Your entire capital campaign will likely take years, but individual fundraising activities will need to be scheduled at specific times.

Spring and fall are the best times for church fundraising since there are few vacations or religious holidays you have to compete against. Most of your campaign efforts should take place during these times.

5.2 Develop Marketing materials and fundraising tools

Marketing materials are a helpful tool to spread the word about your church’s mission and capital campaign goals. Here are a few examples of marketing and fundraising materials you can send:

  • Case statements
  • Brochures
  • Letters
  • Pledge cards
  • Proposals
  • Infographics

When developing these campaign materials, branding is vital. Create a new logo, text, and images to inspire donors during this one to three years. This branding must be added to your website, social media, and other print materials to keep the mission of your campaign in front of mind.

6. Launch Your Campaign

With a passionate team and quality marketing materials, you are ready to begin with your capital campaign.

6.1 Keep communication clear

Transparency is critical during a capital campaign. Church members may be concerned about where their gifts go without enough information.

Donors may assume their entire gift will be used to purchase land, but with the costs attributed to events or marketing materials, most donations will go at least partly towards these marketing efforts. Let people know how their donations are used and where funds go precisely. This will generate a higher level of trust and increase their desire to support your campaign.

6.2 Use the right tools

Online donations have continued to grow as more and more people become comfortable with their safety and convenience. Many of these tools include anti-fraud measures and additional ways to protect donor credit card information. In addition to online donation forms, churches can add features like text-to-give, crowdfunding campaigns, peer-to-peer fundraising, and matching gifts to help raise funds during events and other online campaigns.

This quick promo video will show you how Donorbox helps thousands of churches accept tithes and offerings online with simple and easy-to-set-up fundraising features.

6.3 Major donors

Major donors are critical for the success of a capital campaign. These donors can give at least one thousand dollars every year. The first step in determining a list of major donors is to conduct in-depth prospect research on each church member. Your donor database will inform you of which members gave larger amounts in the past.

Once you have a better idea of these donors, you need a team member to make first contact. Find someone who already has a connection with this church member and educate them on the donor’s interests and financial ability.

6.4 Send various appeals

The majority of donors will not require in-person meetings. You must send appeals by email and mail, hold online campaigns, and even events to reach these church members. The more donor appeals your church sends out, the better the response rate.

7. Evaluate Results

As your campaign is running, and afterward, your church should track the successes of your actions. Information you need to record includes the number and amount of donations received, the number of new donors, the success of online outreach campaigns in sending donors to your website.

It is also an excellent idea to get feedback from your current donors and fundraising team as you track these results. Where have they seen the most success or failure during the capital campaign? This in-person feedback may boost your numerical findings, but it is worth doing more research to get the right information if it doesn’t.

5 Powerful Church Capital Campaign Ideas

1. Apply for Grants

Churches do not often think of grants as a fundraising option. The reality is there are foundations interested in supporting religious communities. These foundations are especially focused on funding specific programs and projects. Do your best to research potential foundations and contact them directly for their requirements. It is essential to follow all the rules when applying for a grant.

2. Raise More Donations with a Crowdfunding Campaign

With crowdfunding campaigns, your church gets to share powerful images and stories with people. These campaigns are especially helpful for urgent needs while a capital campaign is underway; you may need new equipment, building materials on an urgent basis. In that case, you can quickly create a crowdfunding campaign online and spread the word about the need. Your members and other supporters should be able to share the campaign online with their network. With regular updates, you can easily raise more donations in a short time span than you would otherwise.

The below campaign shows how a typical church crowdfunding campaign should look. While this is not specifically a capital campaign, this pretty much sums up all the essential components of one – a goal meter, social media sharing buttons, updates tab, donor wall, popup recurring donation form, a details tab, subscribe option for your followers, and more!

church capital campaign ideas

3. Double the Fund with Matching Gifts

A $100 donation is a big win for your capital campaign, but what if we told you that number could double with little or no effort. Matching gift programs do just that.

Most people have no idea that their companies will match their donations, but many companies across the countries do. By adding a link to your online donation page and educating church members about this option, you can increase donations to your capital campaign.

church capital campaign ideas

4. Let Supporters Fundraise with a Peer-to-Peer Campaign

Raising funds for a capital campaign is no easy task. It takes months and years. But imagine having supporters raise extra funds for your campaign and help you reach your goal! A peer-to-peer campaign lets you invite your best supporters, volunteers, board members, friends, and family to become advocates of your mission and raise funds for your church. Such campaigns can be created online and used individually to spread the word.

Donorbox lets you easily toggle a switch to create a peer-to-peer campaign and invite fundraisers right from the tool so that most of the process is automated. Your fundraisers are guided on the tool to create and customize their own campaigns. You can also keep the invitation open with a button on the original campaign page so that anybody visiting the page can choose to fundraise for you. All donations from all peer campaigns go to your original campaign account.

5. Allow Your Donors to Designate Their Gift

You may have more than one capital project running at present. Even if you don’t, it is good practice to let donors choose (designate) where their gifts will go. It could be toward the capital campaign, the general fund, or an upcoming mission trip, or another project they relate more to. That way you’re not restricting the gift to a single campaign. Also, it increases transparency for your church. The below capital campaign page is a good example for you.

church capital campaign ideas

4 Mistakes to Avoid During Your Church Capital Campaign

Even the most prepared church capital campaign can make mistakes. The following 4 mistakes are common with churches of all sizes.

1. Not Having a Story in Your Campaign

Churches that start capital campaigns can easily get lost in their financial goals. Donations are rarely given because of specific financial details. Most donors give because they are passionate about a cause or have been touched by a story.

Some compelling stories can be of the people your church has helped. How have families’ lives been improved by including God? Who has been saved because of your church? Stories of God’s love and power will inspire action from your donors and create passionate members of your fundraising team.

2. Not Designating Work Among Team Members

Capital campaigns are often used for a new building. Building a new church requires permits, construction, and more. When planning a capital campaign, it is essential to designate each project and fundraising campaign to different team members. Capital campaigns are a long-term project that will require all hands on deck. The following are examples of areas you need at least one or two team members to oversee:

  • Building and Land Permits
  • Architectural Designs
  • Construction
  • Landscaping
  • Online donation forms and campaigns
  • Marketing materials
  • Special events
  • In-kind donations and sponsorships
  • Raffle permits

3. Not Having a Plan B in Case Something Fails

Capital campaigns can take one to three years. During a campaign, you will hold several smaller campaigns and events. There are several opportunities for things to go wrong. To prepare for the possibility of something going wrong and limit the chance of catastrophe, your team must meet regularly and keep informed of all fundraising activities. The entire team must remain aware and ready to jump in if necessary.

4. Thinking Expert Help is Unnecessary

Once again, capital campaigns are a large project. If your church can hire fundraising staff or consultants with expertise in capital campaigns, you have a better chance of meeting your financial goals. Especially, if your church leadership and volunteers have no fundraising experience, it may be best to push for a professional to help.

3 Great Examples of Church Capital Campaigns

Many churches have already found creative ways to run successful capital campaigns. Here are a few examples that are raising funds for their campaigns online.

1. Crossways Camping Ministries

church capital campaign examples

Crossways Camping Ministries has included its whole campaign goal, along with an additional challenge goal on its donation page. They also gave specific donation amounts for members to choose from and a request for donors to pledge gifts over the entire three years. Remember, most capital campaigns run for up to three years. Encouraging donors to participate in the entire campaign is an excellent way to keep people involved.

2. Trinity Episcopal Church

church capital campaign examples

Not every capital campaign is for large amounts. Some churches need to restore their facility to its former glory. Trinity Episcopal Church has created a capital campaign to restore the roof, stained glass windows, and grounds maintenance. Donation requests for this campaign are for $10 to $100 and will likely have a good chance of success.

3. Building Forward

church capital campaign examples

Spirit of Prophecy Church in Plano, Texas, needs a new building, and its donation form includes donation options ranging from $100 to $50,000. They have also posted a donation thermometer at the top of the form showing the campaign goal and how much has been raised. As their campaign raises more money, this thermometer will excite more donors to give.

This church stands out from the others by including a request to attend an in-person and live stream event. They share that this event will include a raffle and silent auction to raise funds for the campaign.

Final Thoughts

Church capital campaigns are an excellent way to raise funds for new buildings, restoration projects, and more. Churches that plan for their campaign and delegate individual fundraising activities and tasks will find the most success.

Donorbox offers affordable options to churches for all types of online fundraising campaigns. Our online donation forms, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer, membership, and text-to-give campaigns are customizable and easy to use for everyone. To learn more about our features, visit our website.

We also share new articles weekly on our nonprofit blog to help nonprofits and churches fundraise online. Feel free to subscribe to our newsletter to charge up your fundraising efforts with monthly resources.

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Kristine Ensor is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience working with local and international nonprofits. As a nonprofit professional she has specialized in fundraising, marketing, event planning, volunteer management, and board development.

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