Who Will Fund Your Church’s Campaign? 4 Critical Questions to Ask Before You Start

By: 
Scott Noble

Is your church planning a stewardship initiative? Are you hoping to raise money to help remodel your facility, build a new sanctuary or finally complete those deferred maintenance projects?

This is always a challenging season for a church: developing a stewardship campaign that compels people to capture the vision and contribute to it with their resources.

Through more than 400 church stewardship initiatives in the last 20 years, CIF’s Campaigns & Consulting ministry has learned that there are four main questions about your donor base you need to ask—and answer—before you begin. By doing so, you can help ensure your initiative gets off on the right track and is poised for success!

1. How many people would call your church their church home?

Not everyone who attends your church will become a member. Some will attend for years but will never go through the membership steps. Others will become members after only a short time.

But this criterium isn’t about membership; it’s about attendance. How many people who attend your church on at least some type of regular basis would call it their church home?

They might only attend once a month—or fewer, but do they call your church home?

2. What’s your weekly attendance?

Seems straightforward, right? What’s your average attendance each Sunday? If you have weekend services, you can add those to get an average for each weekend.

This is something you’re probably already keeping track of, but it’s important to have these stats at hand before you begin your stewardship initiative.

Regardless, this is the average number of people who attend your weekly services(s). And don’t forget to count those who don’t always get counted—like the young children who are in classes during worship; those who teach during worship; and any others who are in your facility each Sunday but who may not be in worship.

3. Who is your donor base?

This is the number of people who give on a regular basis.

You can determine this by the number of people who have made contributions in the previous 12 months. It could be 30 people, 100 people, or several thousand. It’s basically how many giving units are in your church database at the end of the year. How many end-of-year receipts do you send?

This can be tricky to determine, as this is where the count goes from individuals to “donor units,” which are often counted as “households.” Regardless, discover what terminology or designation works best for your context.

Knowing this will provide the foundation for developing your stewardship initiative and its financial potential—how you will set your goal.

4. How many/what percentage give $500 or more per year?

Finally, this is an important distinction from your donor base.

Of those who give on a regular basis, how many of those give more than $500 each year? Break down all giving by $500 or $1,000 unit increments.

Another way to say this is how many people make giving to your church a priority?

As you begin to plan for your stewardship campaign, this is a good number to develop, as these people will oftentimes form the core of your giving potential.

There are numerous other things to consider when developing a stewardship initiative, but these are the core questions about your potential donor base we have learned to ask in our 400 campaigns in the last 20 years.

If you want additional help developing and running a stewardship initiative—or capital campaign—we’d love to help. Call 800.995.8574 to get started!

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