Five Reasons NOT to Launch a Traditional Church Capital Campaign

Congratulations! Your church is in a season of growth! But as a Lead Pastor or Executive Pastor, you’re aware of some space-related “choke points” developing that will hinder future growth if they’re not addressed. You may have a lack of seats
 in the worship center, not enough space in the children’s ministry area, or a run-down student ministry center with outdated technology.

church capital campaign

As you’re recognizing the need to address these issues, you’re also recognizing the need for additional resources to fund the growth. Before long, the talk will likely turn to planning and implementing a major giving campaign of some kind.

But what should be the approach for your church? Is a traditional “over and above” type capital campaign the ideal solution? Are there other options that might provide the needed funding, while at the same time addressing other general stewardship and generosity issues that likely exist in your church?

ONE FUND INITIATIVES

There is an alternative approach to a traditional capital campaign, and it’s called a One Fund initiative. Rather than asking people to commit to a gift in order to fund a project (or projects) that is “over and above” their regular giving to the church, a One Fund asks people to consider their total giving to the church.

A One Fund asks three questions:
1. Where are you on the journey of giving back to God?
2. Where does God want you to be on that journey?
3. What would it look like to move in faith to that place God desires for you?

More specifically, in a traditional campaign:

  • The focus is project-centric or church-centric.
  • The purpose of the campaign revolves around the need of the church to receive money to fund a project.
  • We ask people to consider their relationship with the church.
  • We direct attention to what the church wants from givers.

By comparison, in a One Fund initiative:

  • The focus is giver-centric.
  • The purpose of the campaign is the need of a Christ-follower to be generous.
  • We ask people to consider their relationship with God.
  • We direct attention to what the church and God want for givers.

Important and Exciting News

As valued clients, ministry partners, and friends, I’m excited to share some great news with you today. Generis will be making an announcement later this week, but because I appreciate our relationship I wanted you to hear from me first.

Generis logoLate last year, we initiated a conversation with the parent company of RSI Church Solutions, that resulted in a consolidation of both teams under the name and leadership of Generis. These are two of the most respected names in church stewardship and generosity joining forces because we believe we can serve churches better together. I value our relationship and wanted you to hear this exciting news from me first.

Here are a few of the key benefits for you and your ministry:

  • We will have a hand in creating new data tools for effective on-going analysis of giving metrics that will help your ministry more effectively nurture a growing culture of generosity. I am most excited by this aspect of this announcement.
  • One of our values is collaborative strength. With a larger team and a deeper bench, our expertise and passion to innovate will only increase.
  • With Generis and RSI combined, more churches can apply proven strategies shaped to fit their needs to make their God-given visions a reality.

Additional information will be forthcoming through the official corporate announcement and subsequent press release. In the meantime, If you have questions or would like to speak with me directly, please reach out. I would value the conversation!

email: rusty@generis.com
phone: 800.233.0561 x243

3 Common Mistakes Churches Make When Budget Planning

Working with churches in the realm of generosity, I see it quite often – common mistakes in the church budget planning process. I see these with regularity, which makes me wonder if perhaps you too have committed one or more of the three most common mistakes in your church budget planning process and not realized it. (It’s ok – not only will I share with you what these three mistakes are, I will also share some ideas on how to avoid or fix them!)

church budgets

The three mistakes listed below come straight from a recent webinar on the subject. You will want to pull it up soon to hear Jim Sheppard, one of our Principal Partners at Generis, and William Vanderbloemen of Vanderbloemen Search Group discuss these common mistakes made in the church budget planning process.

MISTAKE #1 – Operational Expense Mistakes
Regardless of church size and mission focus, there are three common line item “categories” in every church budget: people (personnel) expenses, building/facility expenses, and everything else (ministry, missions, etc.). What problems do we typically see in this area?

Churches often let the people and building/facility expense categories grow too large, at the expense of ministry and missions. The most common mistakes here are:

  1. staffing expenses that have grown larger than they should for a specific church’s model of ministry.
  2. facility costs, usually including over-sized mortgage management, on a space that is too large or was a bit too aggressive financially to construct.

If you have too much going to one or both of these categories, little is left to actually fund the mission of your ministry! For example, if you have 50% of your budget going to personnel expenses, and 40% to building/facility expenses, that only leaves 10% for everything else. And that 10% is supposed to fund all of your ministries and missions while staying within budget.)

So what portion of a church’s total budget should these categories hold? That depends largely on your individual church, but here are some benchmarks to consider:

  • Personnel
    The standard rule that has floated for years is to keep personnel expenses between 45-52% of total budget. But that isn’t appropriate for every church. It’s too much for some, and perhaps not enough for others. It depends on how you do ministry, and what resources you provide.

    • Are you a staff-driven church, or one that is more congregationally driven, leveraging a large volunteer pool?
    • What kinds of programming do you offer? A church that offers an on-site counseling center, daycare, or school might have larger personnel budgets than those that don’t have those programs on site.
    • A church that outsources some roles might have a lower total personnel expense. I am seeing more and more the outsourcing of several areas previously handled by church staff, including communications (print design, website creation and management, video production of church announcements, etc.) and finance (accounting, payroll, etc.).
    • What is too much or too little? Vanderbloemen shared that a personnel budget running lower than 40% or higher than 65% would both be numbers that might indicate need for some study and review.

Encouraging People on their Generosity Journey

The idea of a “giving pathway” isn’t a new concept. We’ve talked about the Next Steps of Generosity before, and I have shared a generous giver’s prayer. But what if we stopped thinking about this journey of generosity so much in terms of percentages and numbers?

Giving PathwayFirst – why is a pathway important? For the same reason you likely have a formal assimilation program in your church – you desire to move people from where they are, to where you (and God) want them to be. You have developed a logical “next steps” process – for example:

If you’re a first-time guest with us this weekend, we invite you to our monthly “Open Mic” night – come and learn anything you’d like to know about our church, mission, and ministries. At Open Mic night, you talk about their next step – attending your New Member class. Then in the New Member class, you talk about the importance of getting plugged in – take a spiritual gifts assessment, and get involved in a small group. Once engaged in the church and involved in a small group, you work to get them serving in a ministry area that aligns with their gift assessment. And so on. There is a logical, and easy-to-understand series of steps that helps the worship guest know how to engage with you and the church.

A similar process is wise in your giving discipleship program:

  • Non-givers need help understanding what their first step might be. “I’ve never giving before – where do I start? How much am I supposed to give? How/where do I give?” These may seem like easy questions for you, but consider the new believer who wasn’t raised in the church. Don’t assume even the most basic of questions – anticipate and answer them all.
  • Casual givers need a nudge to become a consistent giver.
  • Those who are tithing often believe they’ve “arrived” – that there is no next step for them. They believe they are right where God commands them, without considering that there is room for them to grow in their personal journey. We know that to be wrong, don’t we? Isn’t God always challenging us to grow with him in ALL areas of discipleship? Prayer, Bible study, service, giving, sharing the Gospel. A pathway helps to understand that we are always challenged to grow in our giving.

Often a giving pathway (or “Generosity Ladder” as first coined by Nelson Searcy in his book by the same name), is somewhat organized by gift amounts or income percentages. The first level is initial giver, while a higher level represents a tithe, and a still higher level represents an amount above the tithe. Well…can’t an initial giver begin giving at the level of a tithe? Do we have to wait until a higher step to reach that amount?

Today I want to challenge you to consider this pathway from a new perspective. Let’s look at this concept in terms of behavior. Rather than defining each step by an amount given, or a percentage of income, let’s define each step with a new behavior. How can we define each step in the pathway by a new behavior?

Let’s start at the beginning – with someone giving for the very first time.

An Initial Giver is someone who decides to give for the first time; someone who decides to give something and trust God and the leaders of the Church with this gift (2 Corinthians 8:7; 15). Before doing so, there are five things a first-time giver will likely need to know before they will give. These five things educate them, reassure them, and provide logistical information to empower them to give for the very first time. And as church leaders, that’s our job – to empower our people in spiritual growth. The new behavior – practicing generosity through a tangible act of giving.

New Resource: Understanding and Engaging Your Givers

Count on it: your givers and potential givers are not all alike. In fact, they break down into at least four kinds of givers.

increase giving e-bookThe Generis team has just released a new resource designed to help pastors in churches across the country increase giving – with all four types of givers.

This new, 26-page e-book will share with you the differences between each of the different types of givers, as well as what you can do to bridge the gap between funding and vision.

This new resource will:

  • help you identify the different givers in your ministry
  • give best practices to engage different types of givers
  • encourage and equip your discipleship efforts
  • and much more!

The more you recognize different types of givers and meet them at their level of need and expectation, the stronger your culture of generosity can become.

This guide, available to you now as a free download, was designed to equip you with the knowledge Generis has gained through 3,000+ successful capital campaigns. This e-book provides you with a practical tool to help fund your church into its next phase of ministry expansion.

DOWNLOAD E-BOOK

Looking for more resources like this one? Check my resources page for more great material!

Looking for more information or personal assistance? Let me know. I’d love to help you and your church fund its God-sized vision!

Pastor, what would best help you encourage generosity?

I did something a couple years ago that was super helpful to me and to the churches I serve. I asked for feedback. I asked for input. I asked the church leaders in the trenches day in and day out what they needed most in the realm of generosity.

communicationkidThat feedback led to several practical blog posts about creating a culture of generosity, preaching on generosity, and how to talk about it outside the offering moment. (Great stuff – thank you for requesting it!)

It also led to the creation of several e-books about giving technology, communicating to impact giving, and the importance of recurring giving.

And now it’s time to circle back and ask again:
What do you need, want, and desire most to help you and your team impact the generosity of your people to fulfill the God-sized vision of your church?

As is always my focus, I want to make sure I’m providing you what you need – not just what I think you need. So I would love to give you an opportunity to share with me exactly how I can best help you.

Please take five minutes to answer a few quick questions for me. I’ve put together a short survey (yes, it’s short – I promise!) to allow a quick and easy way to speak into what’s coming in the near future.

Now is the time. The floor is yours.

I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

TAKE THE SURVEY

Blessings,
Rusty

 

Charitable Giving Outlook for 2016 Appears Weak

Generosity has reached record-setting levels, making 2015 “America’s most generous year ever,” according to Giving USA in a report they published just last week.

charitable givingAn estimated $373.25 billion in charitable giving came from individuals, estates, foundations, and corporations last year, growing donations by 4.1% over the previous year. Giving USA marks this as a new record for the second year in a row.

As for donations categorized as religious giving, numbers were up 2.7% over the previous year, accounting for $119.30 billion in gifts and 32% of total giving.

That’s the good news.

This small percentage of growth, however, shows us religious giving is losing ground when compared to other categories of giving that are growing at a higher rate.

What’s Coming Next?
Looking at the 2016 predictions, The Atlas of Giving is calling this year a potentially “perfect storm” for charitable giving.

A Simple Solution to the Church’s Summer Giving Slump

It’s a well-known and common giving metric. Warm months of summer vacations and other family plans cause a trend of lower church attendance.

And when people are absent, their giving usually is too. Here’s what annual church giving typically looks like from a big picture perspective:

annual church giving

 

 

 

 

 

Does your church’s giving look like this?
If so, please know there’s good news.
#1 – It doesn’t have to be this way.
#2 – There are steps you can take to counteract this trend (and they’re easy)!

Recurring Giving E-Book

You can fight the summer giving slump by promoting recurring giving with the help of a new and practical 12-page resource designed with that very purpose in mind.

This step-by-step guide is an easy and quick read that will help you better understand the impact that increased recurring giving can have for your church, your people, and your ministry.

5 Things People Need to Know Before they will Give

Your people have questions. And they’re not just about the next children’s ministry event or where to take their canned goods for the food pantry. They have questions about giving – big questions about why they should give and what happens to their money when they give.

people need to knowAs their pastor, it’s your responsibility to make sure they have  answers to these questions. This is an opportunity for you to make sure your people are being guided and encouraged on their generosity journey, all while making sure your God-sized vision for ministry is being funded.

So here are 5 questions your people are likely asking, based on 5 things people need to know before they will give. (Trust me – most of your people are asking at least one of these questions!)

1. CAN I TRUST YOU?
The news is unfortunately frequent with stories of improper use of charitable gifts – the Wounded Warriors Project being the most recent example. People want to give where they know their gifts will be stewarded well. Be transparent. Work to build integrity and trust in your personal leadership, and in those in positions of leadership. Communicate well, and often.

Follow through. Do what you say you are going to do. Don’t ask people to do something you yourself are not doing. (Be an example.) People give to those they can believe in and trust. How have you shown your church is trustworthy in the last six months?

2. WHAT’S THE VISION?
Givers give when the mission of the organization aligns with their passions. Most people aren’t as motivated by need; they give to vision. It’s not about the money, but what the money will accomplish. It’s not about facilities, but the ministry the facilities allow.

ALERT: Act Fast for IRA Charitable Rollovers in 2015

Great news! The President made permanent the IRA charitable rollover as part of the latest tax bill signed late last week. But…

YOU MUST ACT FAST! To leverage the tax benefits in 2015, the IRA rollover must be transferred by December 31!

church givingThe IRA charitable rollover allows individuals age 70 ½ or older to make a rollover gift of up to $100,000 from their IRA to one or more qualifying charitable organizations. Charitable deductions are limited to 50% of a taxpayer’s adjusted gross income for a calendar (tax) year. Taxpayers that make significant charitable gifts will benefit from the rollover because this gift is excluded from the charitable deduction percentage limit.

Donations are excluded from the taxpayer’s income and will count as part of the IRA owner’s required annual withdrawal. The rollover must be distributed directly from the IRA custodian to the designated non-profit. (Rollover contributions are limited to specific qualifying charities – churches are eligible to receive these gifts.)

Here are the details you need to share with those in the qualifying age bracket:

  • The provision allows someone over 70 1/2 years of age to donate up to $100,000 of their IRA assets to a charitable organization.
  • The donor’s contribution can satisfy the required minimum distribution for the year and does not have to be counted as taxable income.
  • Those who qualify to make this gift need to seek counsel from their tax attorney or licensed financial planner for the details.