By Mark Brooks
If your next campaign is going to be a success, you need to know how to pick a capital campaign partner. There are scores of firms out there, as well as many guys who do campaigns on the side. How do you make sure you have the right consultant for your next campaign?
First, realize that you do need help. Campaigns that are self-run always raise less than those that use a professional. Do you really want to risk the success of your next campaign simply to save a few dollars?
Campaigns are often complex, and a seasoned campaign consultant can help you navigate through this mine field. However, the level of help you need is dependent upon your situation.
Here are my rules of thumb for what level of partnership you and your church might need. Consider the following:
- If you have never held a capital campaign or it has been years since your last campaign, you probably need a full partnership.
- If your project is a drastic change from the status quo like relocation, then you probably need a full partnership.
- If you know the program side of campaigns (putting together prayer teams, for instance), you probably need a limited partnership.
- If what you are raising funds for is straightforward, like debt reduction, you probably only need a limited partnership.
- If you want to achieve 90 percent plus return on pledges, you will need some type of help and a limited partnership should fit the bill.
- If you are in doubt, get help!
So, how do you go about picking the right partner? Here are some things to consider. Always remember that you are hiring the consultant, not the firm they work for. You want to know about their:
Does the consultant you are going to work with have experience in the field? How many churches have they worked with? Have they worked with churches like yours? Nothing beats experience!
Flexibility and Adaptability
Can the consultant you are going to work with design a campaign that is flexible to the needs of your distinct congregation? Can they adapt “their plan” to fit your context and culture? Are their methods up-to-date or are they still stuck in the last century?
You want a consultant that has the time for you. Many firms load down their consultants with multiple campaigns, making it harder for them to be available when you need them. Ask your consultant how many campaigns they are doing now and how many they will do in a calendar year. If the answer is more than six or eight, they might not have time for you.
Along with availability, is the consultant being there for you when you need them? Can you reach your consultant 24/7? Someone who works 9 to 5 might not be the right partner for you.
We don’t have a sales staff. Some salesmen tell you what they think you want to hear, not what you need to hear. You need someone that is going to be a straight shooter with you and for you.
While I am not hired to be your best friend, if you don’t like me you will never answer the phone. If you don’t answer my phone call, how can you get the help you pay for? Being able to connect with the consultant is a key consideration. Can you see the consultant connecting with your leaders? If not, then you need to keep looking.
While you are not the Holy Spirit, you can tell if someone has a walk with the Lord or not. Make sure the consultant you are going to work with not only has a relationship with the Lord but is also active in their local church. Why would you hire someone who doesn’t have the favor of God upon their lives? They might be brilliant, but unless the Lord builds the house, we labor in vain!
Finally, talk to references about your consultant. Talking with those who have used the consultant will give you the best information of whether you think this is the right consultant for you and your church. Nothing beats a reference! It might take you time, but it will be worth the effort.
I pray these thoughts will help you towards choosing the right partner for you and your church.
As the founding partner of The Charis Group, Mark Brooks brings not only a rich background of ministry experience but also years of successfully helping Christian ministries raise funds for capital projects, www.thecharisgroup.org.