Putting Together Your Fundraising Team

By: Peggy Powell Dean and Susanna A. Jones

Will we need help with our fund-raising campaign? And if so, how much help?

As a pastor, you find yourself considering such questions when a capital-funds campaign approaches. The answers will vary by circumstances. You may find it helpful to hire a consultant to assist in developing-and sometimes implementing-your fund-raising plan. Or, you may decide to go it alone or use a consultant for selected tasks.

What makes the difference? Here are some factors to help you decide what’s best for your next campaign.

In-house Skilled Leaders

A successful fund-raising campaign requires capable people to provide a wide range of skills. Key tactic: Evaluate your congregation’s talent pool for expertise in the following areas:

Law, to devise language for pledge cards and other documents.

Writing, to compose copy for brochures, press releases, letters of request, and the like.

Public relations, to place stories in the media and attract favorable publicity.

Graphic design, to lay out such items as letterhead, brochures, and invitations.

Volunteer recruitment and training, to enlist the many people you’ll need.

Gift solicitation, a place where seasoned experience counts greatly.

Note: Congregations frequently discover that they can call upon otherwise busy members to donate their professional expertise for a limited amount of time and an important institutional effort, such as a fund-raising campaign.

Important: If you are missing several of these necessary skills, you may need professional fund-raising assistance. Option: Use the leaders you have and supplement them with professional expertise to fill unmet areas of need.

Many Workers

In addition to volunteers, with professional skills and experience, you’ll also need dedicated volunteers or paid staff to provide support services, such as:

Full-time telephone coverage.
Bookkeeping and records management.
Secretarial and clerical support.

Important: Don’t underestimate the volume of paper a campaign generates. Example: A campaign requiring 500 gifts to reach its goal will probably need at least 1,500 solicitations. Each gift may require seven pieces of correspondence, including a thank-you letter, three pledge statements, and three receipts or thank-you letters. Thus, 500 gifts translate into at least 5,000 pieces of correspondence!

Key concepts: If you’re planning to do the campaign yourself, make sure you have the professionals and the volunteers you need. If you’re lacking in either category, you may want to hire a consultant.

Also: Hiring a consultant does not make up for poor leadership. Your campaign must have a dedicated cadre of at least three to five influential volunteers willing to meet regularly, give generously, and inspire others over the long months of the campaign.

A Consultant’s Job

You may need help in some areas of the campaign, but not in others.

Options: You can use a consultant’s skills to:

Oversee the campaign from beginning to end.

Assist you in developing the plan and then step back as you implement it

Do specific tasks for you on a contracted basis as you implement the plan you have developed. Consider: Some parts of a fund-raising campaign are particularly difficult for the uninitiated. Churches often seek help for tasks such as:

* Feasibility studies to assess the church’s fund-raising potential.
* Development of a case statement, which gives the reasons why the church needs–
and merits–financial support.
* Developing solicitation materials, such as brochures.
* Volunteer training.
* Grants, especially for historic renovations, may be available from federal and
private sources, but criteria and procedures for obtaining them can be complex.
A fund-raising professional will know how to navigate the system.

Finding a Consultant

If you decide you need outside help, there are many sources for finding the consultant who is right for you.

Where to look:

Other organizations in your community. The program that helped put someone else’s capital campaign over the top may transfer to your fund drive. Seek the advice of other churches or nonprofit organizations who have conducted successful campaigns.

American Association of Fund Raising Counsel (AAFRC). Members of AAFRC have proven track records and conform to the highest ethical standards. This is a good place to learn about the range of services available. Phone: 212/354-5799.

Note: Many excellent firms are not members of this association and can be located through the other sources listed here.

National Society of Fund Raising Executives (NSFRE). The NSFRE is a professional association of practicing fund-raisers. Phone: 703/684-0410.

Office of Charities Registration. Every state has an agency charged with regulating charitable solicitations, and it maintains lists of registered fundraisers. Note: These agencies usually are located in the state office of the attorney general or secretary of state.

Local preservation organizations and community foundations. These groups may be able to provide assistance with fund-raising.

Further information: Get a copy of the Complete Guide to Capital Campaigns for Historic Churches and Synagogues, By Peggy Powell Dean and Susanna A. Jones, by calling Partners for Sacred Places: 215/546-1288. Cost: $45.00 plus $2.50 for shipping.

In some churches, you will have all the expertise you need right in your sanctuary. In others, you may want to bring in hired hands at various stages of the fund-raising campaign.

One way or another, you can find the resources you’ll need.

(The above material appeared in the Mar./Apr. 1992 issue of Your Church.)

Christian Information Network