Thursday, 22nd of June 2017

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Dealing with Capital Campaigns

Capital Campaign professionals are used over doing an in-house capital drive for several reasons. First the word “Professional”. These people have training, experience and understanding. They know how to do it and they are good at doing it. You don’t want your neighborhood butcher performing heart surgery even though he can cut open your chest do you?

Second, because they know how to conduct the campaign they aren’t likely to leave money on the table.

Third and most important, if something is said or goes wrong people aren’t pointing fingers at congregational members or the pastor. Stay above the fray. Capital Campaigns are by nature difficult as your talking about finances and getting personal about their faith in the project.

Random thoughts and suggestions for working with Capital Campaign Professionals

  1. They all will quote similar lines:
    1. We can raise 2-3 times your prior years revenue total with a 3 year capital campaign
    2. Experience and historical data indicate you will bring in 90% of the amount pledged
    3. You will need at least X number of major gifts depending on the amount your raising
    4. The price we ask to complete your campaign is pretty firm
  2. Items a, b and c are generally true. That’s what I’ve experienced. There is a lot of historical data t support the statements. Item d however is ALWAYS negotiable.
  3. Choose between 3-4 companies to interview
  4. When conducting the interviews try, as much as possible to do them all in one day. Yes it’s exhausting but get it over with. It will be faster than you think. You choose the time each company will present. DO NOT allow them to fib a story about needing to be last. It’s obvious you’ll remember the last presentation better that’s why everyone want to be last. You’ll know from the presentations which one is best suited to your needs whether it’s the first company or the last. One will jump out at you while the others will lack something that’s important to your project. When giving them a time slot put their names in a bowl and just draw for a time slot.
  5. Allow 60-75 minutes for the presentation and no more. They can tell you their story in that time frame and all will want more time. When you send them a letter asking them to visit and make a presentation be specific. i.e. “You will be given 60 minutes for your presentation and the presentation is scheduled at 1 p.m. We are allowing for no more than 15 minutes for Q & A after your presentation.
  6. Schedule multiple presentations with a half hour time separation to allow for brief carryover and to give your team time to refresh, quickly express any comment and prepare for the next interview.
  7. I suggest scheduling folks at 9 am and doing 2 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon with a 30-45 minute break for lunch. ( 9 and 11, 1 and 3 are good time slots)
  8. When you invite a company in for a presentation send them as much data as you can and if you have a rendering of the project to be built send that along as well. Try to give each company any reliable statistical information you can. Especially size of the congregation or school and makeup of the people (Professionals, blue collar, laborers, farmers etc.)
  9. Generally companies will visit from outside the area on their dime you will not need to pay for their flight or travel. That said, the companies you solicit to make a presentation will want assurances you are prepared to go ahead with a capital campaign. That’s why it’s important to send them as much detail and projection as possible

Questions you should be sure to ask.

  • References for similar projects. Once you get the references check them out thoroughly. Don’t be afraid to ask them for the references BEFORE you ask them to make a presentation to your group. It’s helpful to make some comparisons when you’re talking to the fund raising professional. If they don’t want to share a reference they should not be considered.
  • Expect the cost of the capital campaign to be 10% of your previous year’s revenue. Hence…
  • Dealing with the price……“you gave us a quote to help us run the campaign. It’s above our budget. (You don’t have to disclose your budget) Is there a way we can do some of the work or accomplish something that will allow for a lower fee?”
  • How long does a typical campaign take to complete? (3-4 months)
  • How long do you work with us after the initial fund raising period? Will you be helping us with suggestions, follow-up and general hand holding for some period of time after the initial campaign is complete? Do you come back for additional solicitation or direct approach of people after the initial phase of fund raising?
  • How much time “on the ground” (working in our midst) will you spend and how do you use that time?
  • Who will lead the campaign from your (fund raising company) staff? What is his/her track record and ask for references for projects he/she worked on that are similar? Check the references.
  • Know your budget limitations. Don’t over extend yourselves. If you can’t afford to hire the capital fundraising company step back and reassess a bit. Can you wait another 6 months to a year to do the campaign? Is there someone who can help finance the cost?
  • Can the Fund Raising Company help you conduct a feasibility campaign before going into a full blown capital fund raising program? (This is more for a special type of project or one in the multiple millions of dollars where you need assurance people are willing to commit large sums of money as oppose to most church building projects where it’s the congregation alone who will do the funding. If the company can help with a feasibility at what additional cost?

After you’ve chosen the companies you want to interview determine within your group what date you want them to come. Write them a letter:

Dear XYZ Company

Your company has come to our attention as we prepare to initiate a capital fund raising campaign to (fill in the blank…build a new room, build a sanctuary, start a new project)

Enclosed is information we hope you will find helpful. We would appreciate your contacting us about making a presentation to our Capital Campaign Committee on ______________.

We ask that you acknowledge receipt of our letter and your intention to present or decline our invitation no later than (date) by letter at the address shown on or letterhead or by phone to Mrs. Liberty Belle at 216-263-7422 (216-America).

We look forward to your presentation.

Leave yourselves 4-6 weeks for their acknowledgement. The time is necessary as they will review your material, decide to present, choose a presenter and make reservations for a flight or hotel. You have to do a fair amount of planning in advance for this so take your time to be sure you cover everything you can think of. Put yourselves in the company’s shoes. What information would you want, how much lead time, do the dates work etc.

You also have to make a decision if one of the companies you want to hear from just cannot make the date you desire. Can you make an exception and interview that one as a stand alone and still remember all the presentations when making your decision? Can you conduct a telephone conference? If you allow the exception make sure the presentations are as close to each other in date as possible to allow for fairness.

If you have gotten to the point where you have an architect and are pretty far along in planning you can ask the architect if they want to sit in on the interviews. Some have experience with this and can be helpful. Most do not and no one thinks to ask if they’d like to sit in. Give them a chance, you may be surprised by what the architect can ask the presenter that could prove helpful.

At any time in the process you want my help, please don’t hesitate to contact me, David Bowers.

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