Two Ways to Maximize the Campaign Kick-Off

perspectives_Success_356351A Capital Campaign Kick-off Event offers the first, and best, opportunity the campaign will have to engage the majority of donors that make up a typical congregation. Leaders and early adopters will have already made their pledge by the time of the Kick-off providing a solid base of support and as much as 50% of the total that will be raised. But what about the large numbers of donors that will follow? Can a Kickoff event really help engage these donors in a meaningful way? The answer is most certainly “yes” provided that two important features are put in place.

  • A compelling speaker. For many churches that compelling speaker is their own minister. A good case can be made for the senior minister to do the speaking since they represent the leadership of the church most uniquely. However, many congregations engage an outside speaker in order to attract a larger audience. Sometimes a former minister, denominational official, or even a layperson of some familiarity and stature can add a compelling reason to attend the event. After all, members will be hearing the minister speak about the campaign for weeks to come, but a guest speaker can attract more attention and give him/her the opportunity to add credibility to the campaign by speaking positively about it from an ‘outside’ perspective. But remember, no matter who does the speaking, make sure that it is about the campaign and the opportunities that have been placed in front of the congregation. If you invite the local congressman, for instance, just make sure that his address ties into the church and its mission and doesn’t become a re-election stump speech!
  • Compelling Testimonials. The Kickoff event will be the first opportunity that early donors will have to share their commitment and set expectation levels for everyone else. Most congregants are not familiar with how a campaign works and have no idea how to think about their own gift, or even what is considered generous. Without guidance they tend to pull numbers out of thin air and once they’ve thought about a ‘number’ it will be hard for them to move from it. They need guidance and the most effective guidance comes from a fellow member of the congregation who is willing to share what their own gift to the campaign has meant. Encourage the testimonial speakers to get specific, not so much about the amount, but what that amount means in terms of personal finances. What is being sacrificed? What will the donor do without in order to make this pledge? Specific examples that members can identify with will be the most effective such as: Comparing the pledge to putting another child through college, buying a new car, giving up one spouse’s salary, working an additional two years before retiring, etc…. Setting the expectation levels early will help prepare donors for the personal visits that will take place throughout the campaign.

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Erin West

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