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Review Successes & Failures

Review Successes & Failures

Preparing for a Capital Campaign Part 4

When a capital campaign doesn’t meet its goal or fizzle out, it usually returns to a handful of common mistakes. One of those is an organization not learning from its past wins and losses.

This blog series breaks down the key components of preparing your church for a campaign. When a church embarks on a capital project, it’s sometimes rushed and launched too quickly. Often, the pace is driven by an urgent funding need. The need forces us to hurry our preparations and launch a campaign.

Today, we’re talking about the important step of assessing where your church has been in the past. Even if you’ve not done a major capital campaign recently, you’ve likely had some kind of project where you’ve tried to fund a ministry or mission trip, retire debt, or perhaps raise funds for a church plant.


In my book, Donors Are People Too, I devote a chapter to the kind of questions donors have but might not ask you directly. One of those is your track record of past successes. Donors want to know that you and your church can handle a campaign’s heavy work and effort. They may have lots of capacity to give but might hold back if they aren’t fully confident in your ability to execute a successful campaign (or the project itself!). 

So take a close look back at your successes, but also at your failures. If you don’t have a great track record of prior success, it doesn’t mean you won’t. It just means you need to assess and learn from what happened. Look at what course corrections you have or will need to put in place based on those learnings, and be ready and prepared to talk about those candidly with donors. Again, they may not ask, so it’s important that you find ways to assure them you know what went wrong in prior projects and are prepared not to repeat the errors.

Most of our members don’t expect us to hit it out of the park every time. But they do and should expect transparency. A friend of mine has a mantra I’ve adopted that says, “If you can’t fix it, feature it!” Confront past failures and shortfalls head-on, demonstrate accountability, and a plan to ensure future success. 


While revisiting past ‘misses’ isn’t always fun, it does often reveal systemic issues or consistent themes and barriers that need to be addressed. Trying to launch a campaign without cleaning those up and making corrections isn’t fair to members and donors, so take the time to dig into those past projects and see what lessons can be learned. 

Be open and discuss those learnings with your leadership, board, and congregation during planning for this campaign.

We’ve encouraged you in this series to approach campaign planning in a methodical and slow way. Set aside the time to undertake that full preparation process. Rushing or looking for shortcuts will only hurt your church and its credibility in the long run. Be strategic and intentional, and God will lead you and your members every step of the way.

Preparing for a Capital Campaign

The Foundation of a Successful Capital Campaign is Built on Donor Acknowledgment

When we consider how to best prepare our church for a campaign and the key components that help ensure success, we need to specifically look at how we treat our donors and prospects through the fundamentals of acknowledgments.

Find the right posture and acknowledgment processes for your donors with these practical tips from a seasoned ministry fundraiser.

For more information on consulting for Capital Campaigns, visit ACST’s Consulting pages.

Tim has over 30 years of experience in Church, Non-Profit Administration, Management, and Fund Development.  Serving as an Executive Pastor and Chief Development Officer in growing Churches and Non-Profit Organizations. He has provided a wide range of expertise and resources. Tim serves as the Founder and CEO of Non-Profit DNA. A boutique firm committed to helping nonprofits and churches. By building their capacity through fundraising, leadership, team building, staff recruiting, and coaching.

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