The Pre-Campaign Planning Process

By Herb Mahan
Capital Campaign achievement is a function of certain fundamentals. These fundamentals are:

  • A case for support
  • Committed leaders
  • A willing constituency, and
  • A proven campaign plan

It is not unusual for the church leaders who are faced with a pending campaign to have one or more uncertainties about these fundamentals in their particular circumstances. The following represent the most common of these uncertainties:

  • Will the campaign consultant who is identified for us fit with our circumstances?
  • Are we ready for a campaign?
  • What do we need to be doing right now?
  • Who should be engaged right now?
  • Is our case for support sound?
  • Is this the right time for a campaign?

The purpose of the pre-campaign planning is to address any uncertainties that exist and to identify specific steps that need to be taken prior to the campaign. Specific steps that will always be taken are:

  • Introduction to the campaign consultants
  • A review of the case for support
  • The identification of lay and clerical leaders who need to be engaged in the preparation for the campaign
  • Providing a forum for answering the church leaders’ questions
  • The identification of the priority steps that need to be taken in preparation for the campaign

Introduction to the campaign consultant

Typically the campaign consultant will arrange phone conversations with the clerical leader as well as the lay leader who is currently responsible for the campaign preparation. The phone conversations provide the initial opportunity for these leaders to assess the fit of the consultant with the church’s circumstances.

Questions will almost always exist about whether or not the consultant’s experiences will have prepared that consultant for those circumstances. The phone conversations will begin to ease that concern. Sometimes this initial call – or these initial calls – will lead to a conference call with additional members for the church’s planning team. Almost always the initial call will lead to a face-to-face meeting with the consultant. That meeting provides the opportunity for the members of the team to personally meet the consultant and to gain further confidence regarding any uncertainties about the campaign.

A review of the case for support

The campaign consultant will be seeking an understanding of the church’s needs that are the catalyst for the campaign and the materials that are currently available for the presentation of those needs to the membership during the Readiness Assessment Program. Questions on the consultant’s mind may include:

  • Are the needs, as described, easily understandable?
  • Are there opportunities implicit within these needs that are likely to inspire responsiveness among the membership?
  • Are the supporting materials adequate for preparing the Readiness Assessment presentation?
  • Have potential leaders for the Readiness Assessment Program been identified?
  • What steps need to be taken to resolve any deficiencies identified by the foregoing questions?

The identification of lay and clerical leaders who need to be engaged in the preparation for the campaign

Clerical and lay leaders alike, in all but very rare circumstances, will have been engaged in the campaign preparatory steps that have been taken. These individuals continue in preparation for the Readiness Assessment program. If the need for any additional help is determined, they would need to become engaged as those preparations continue.

Providing a forum for answering the church leaders questions

Those who have been engaged in the preparation for the campaign will have questions about both the planning that has been done and the conduct of the campaign itself. The meeting with a campaign consultant provides a forum for dialog regarding those questions.
The identification of the priority steps that need to be taken in preparation for the campaign
There will always be steps that need to be taken at this point in preparation for the campaign – and the readiness assessment program that precedes the campaign. Those steps will be identified in the pre-campaign meeting. Individuals will be identified to complete those tasks and communications channels will be agreed upon so that the consultant can remain engaged with the process.

Clearly other questions lurking on the campaign leaders minds will also be answered during the pre-campaign planning meeting. These leaders will be focused on the personal characteristics of the campaign consultant. They will be attuned to the consultant’s interaction with those assembled, approach to obstacle resolution, experiences that the consultant has had that relate directly to those of the anticipated campaign, the consultant’s faith, and the consultant’s work patterns, work-space needs and anticipated engagement with the life of the church. The comfort that the leaders gain with the consultant during this meeting is likely the primary benefit of the pre-campaign planning process.
Herb Mahan is a consultant with James D. Klote & Associates, Inc. This nation-wide firm offers full-time and on-site Capital Stewardship consulting services to individual congregations for the purposes of new construction, renovation, debt reduction and mission and outreach. Offices are located in Falls Church, Virginia and St. Charles, Illinois. For more information please visit or contact us directly at 800-360-2315.

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