Your Christian School capital campaign for new construction, land, and debt relief efforts should be part of an intentional overall approach to your stewardship and generosity.

church campaign for new construction, land, and debt relief

When the words “Christian School capital campaign” or “Christian School capital building campaign” are brought up at any school advancement meeting, many squirm in their seat and even consider bolting for the door. But you do not have to dread the process, and you certainly do not have to do it alone without good outside help. If unsure where to start looking for help, please do not have your staff Google something like Christian School fundraising ideas or Christian School fundraisers. They will more than likely only bring up ways to raise small amounts of money selling cookie dough, bake sales, car-washes and doughnuts, but are futile when it comes to raising large amounts. These types of fundraising ideas may be very helpful for the youth camping trip, but can easily undermine major efforts to invite serious givers to fund the core vision and plans of your Christian School. In 2024, major Christian school fundraising, like a capital campaign, annual budget campaign or a debt relief campaign require far more than gathering a few good-hearted servants to donate time to raise 3- and 4-figure amounts.

If your board, headmaster and advancement director are seriously committed to moving into a major funding initiative, there are many excellent Christian School consultants (often called capital campaign consultants) that can lead you through a successful major fundraising/generosity initiative. And like our company name, we can surely come alongside you to develop effective Christian School fundraising materials for your upcoming capital campaign, but more on that later.

One Christian School consultant wrote that capital campaigns are a multi-faceted undertaking involving many moving components that all must be coordinated and well timed (especially the capital campaign marketing materials) to set-up the school for maximum success. He went on to say that the success of your capital campaign is vital to the ongoing life of the school as it is often linked to maintaining school growth momentum. Your capital campaign will be a journey that takes your donors from a point of vision awareness to a point of deep commitment (in time, talents and treasures).

Martin Luther said, “There are three conversions a person needs to experience: The conversion of the head, the conversion of the heart, and the conversion of the pocketbook.” But let’s be honest, the topic of major fundraising initiatives are hard for Christian School leaders to press into with their supporters. It is especially hard for headmasters who may think that asking for funds can appear self-serving, poor-mouthing and more. Maybe the reason that capital campaigns are difficult to approach is because so little (in the past) has been taught on the topic of stewardship (or grace-filled generosity). A bold and confident approach to asking for funds to support the overall ministry of the school is imperative to growing a culture of generosity within your Christian supporters and major donors. In his article “Money and Motives,” Greg Laurie says, “It is worth noting that money is such an important topic in the Bible that it is the main subject of nearly half of the parables Jesus told. In addition, one in every seven verses in the New Testament deals with this topic. The Bible offers 500 verses on prayer, fewer than 500 verses on faith, and more than 2,000 verses on money. In fact, 15 percent of everything Jesus ever taught was on the topic of money and possessions — more than His teachings on heaven and hell combined. Why such an emphasis on money and possessions? There is a fundamental connection between our spiritual lives and how we think about and handle money.”

Christian School capital campaigns require a stretch beyond rational thinking.

Church fundraising items

By definition, faith is more than mere rationality, and good leaders understand this. That’s precisely why strong Christian School administrators or advancement directors are not intimidated by the “rationality” of information and facts. Faith in a God-inspired vision leads to hope and trust that surpasses what is “seen” – seas that split apart for ocean floors to become escape routes; jars that pour out gallons more without ever being re-filled; and “Christian gatherings” of 20,000+ that end up with far more food than when they started! Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind (John 9:32 ESV). The miracles of Jesus served several divine purposes, but here in the Gospel of John, it seems that the main purpose of this specific miracle was meant to stretch the limits of rational thinking! Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”

A great vision from God calls forth something in us. We must not only share it, but engage and enlist others to join us in pursuing it. Thus is the vision behind your school’s capital campaign. There’s a responsibility before God to see that the vision is clearly, adequately communicated to your donors, and that it’s done so in a relevant manner. The hope for your current and future capital campaigns is that God will raise a unified ownership to embrace the road ahead, as well as all its costs for the journey.

Unapologetically teach that key to giving is staying open to receiving.

church capital campaign

One of the most important principles of giving that every Christian School headmaster and advancement director should find encouragement in is this: “All giving starts with receiving.” King David learned this principle firsthand as he watched in amazement how the people responded to the need of building the Temple. In 1 Chronicles 29:14, he cried out… “But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you have already given us!”

The principle is this: Receive to give…to receive more…to give more. When you boldly live this way as a leader, God’s people will step up by giving towards your vision above and beyond anything you could imagine! To accomplish this kind of heart for giving, the board, headmaster and advancement director will have to be willing to talk seriously to its constituents about money during your capital campaign season. One Christian School stewardship coach suggests that your supporters will be far more receptive than your think, as long as the teaching is Biblical, clear, and sincere. Go straight at the subject matter with no apologies. This same consultant says that any attempt to address stewardship from and end-around approach will be sniffed out, and will be cause for suspicion. That leads to the next and most important point when teaching about money and giving…

Think faithraising for your capital stewardship campaign, not fundraising.

church materials - faithraising

A bright-eyed young man wearing a Cub Scout cap, both hands full of popcorn and cookies, approached me one Saturday as I exited the local Lowe’s Home Improvement Center. Honestly, as I looked at that young eight-year-old entrepreneur, my first impression was to tell him, “No thanks.” And that coming from someone who makes living helping clients on their Christian School capital campaigns. But fortunately for the Cub Scout organization, his shrewd mother said, “Tell him we take donations also!” So, I put $7.00 in his jar and told him good luck! That is fundraising in a nutshell; giving out of a sense of obligation towards a cause you may or may not really care about. Faithraising on the other hand, is investing in a community/world changing vision with the expectation of God-sized rewards at the end. Faith-raising is beyond the guilt of “donation obligation,” and is based on both vision and promise.

Clear communication and financial buy-in must exist at the board, headmaster and advancement director level.

church fundraising male

Before your Christian School embarks on a vision which implementation is going to cost at least two to three times its annual budget, there is no debate that the most basic communication need comes from the top…from Almighty God who sits enthroned in majesty and who initiates all visions, dreams, hopes and directions. However, once you are convinced the Lord has prompted you toward a Christian School capital campaign, then you must make sure your advancement team is crystal clear on the details.

In other words, clear communication among the school leadership board, headmaster and advancement director is paramount before you share anything with your donor base. Theologian, author, Michael Novak says, “Clarity of what works is an ethical imperative.” In Christian School campaign communications (or your Christian School fundraising materials), it is vital that the vision, and its needs for the particular vision’s fulfillment, be clearly understood by those in leadership first and foremost. Until it is, and there is agreement, any ideas or plans should go no further! Peter Marshall, Chaplain to the U. S. Senate, said, “Give to us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for.”

A leading Christian School stewardship consultant wrote, “recruit people who understand generosity to lead your campaign. While it seems obvious, it might surprise you that many schools often “settle” for whoever they can find available for this role rather than actively seeking persons who are passionate about stewardship. Remember to pray about these choices before you ask them to prayerfully consider the invitation to serve on your advancement committee.”

Also, it is helpful to do a feasibility study to check the “pulse” of a cross-section of the supporters and major donors for such a venture. Most seasoned capital campaign consultants offer this service. If the key school donors generally like the idea, the school board, headmaster and advancement director can move forward with their plans to introduce the idea of a formal capital fundraising campaign to your donors. Cultivating relationship with potential major donors will require serious effort from the Christian School board, headmaster and advancement director. The headmaster carries the banner of the vision, and will need to challenge major donors to consider being lead givers. The Christian School’s headmaster can uniquely share the vision, objectives and needs through informal home gatherings as well as one-on-one lunches, appointments and leadership banquets. Major donors can be asked to prayerfully consider a significant gift. That gift can be a catalyst that God can use to propel the effort. It is a Biblical model found in the life of Kind David when offering his own lead gifts (publically) and calling other major donors (and everyone else too) to join him.

So, long before any architects and builders are retained, or any related matter is made public, the board, headmaster and advancement director must be clear among itself:

  1. What is the Lord’s direction for the Christian School?
  2. How does a capital campaign connect with the overall vision for the school?
  3. Who will this decision affect?
  4. Why do we believe a capital campaign is the right solution?
  5. When is the best time to begin?
  6. Where will our detractors find their ammunition?

Naturally, there will be many other related questions to be considered before your leadership boards the ship on a capital campaign journey. Yet it should not attempt to leave the harbor without agreement and commitment among itself. And on top of that, the school board, the headmaster, advancement director and staff, and core ongoing top donors should offer the initial commitments in the capital campaign. This shows the rest of the potential supporters that the school board, headmaster and advancement director are serious about what God is calling them to. Gathering lead (advance) gifts from the Christian School’s directors and major donors, before pledges are requested, will give needed inspiration and momentum to the supporters and their generosity level.

Positively and boldly approach your Christian School capital / building campaign.

church materials fundraising

Besides regular ongoing support to your school, a capital campaign is often the largest revenue source your Christian School will ever receive. That is really good news. Unfortunately, too many Christian Schools just share the envisioned budget with their constituency, include a giving card and envelope, and hope for the best. Recent surveys show that this approach has proven very unsuccessful, and can lead to loosing a lot of regular and potential givers, especially possible large donors who want to give to something that matters, that makes a difference, and that is measurable. And, on top of not having a vision-based approach to their capital campaigns and/or debt relief efforts, School boards and administrators too often see the process as something they are almost ashamed of. I cannot tell you how many top-tier Christian School stewardship consultants have had to firmly persuade headmasters to stay with the program, once started.

With that mindset, it is no surprise that the utilization of communications (incorporating Christian School fundraising materials) is ignored for fear of sending a negatively perceived message. But unfortunately, no approach to communications still sends a very clear message, and a bad one at that. Positively leveraging carefully-crafted fundraising materials to communicate the particulars of a vision, plan and goals will eliminate the passive message that says, “we have no vision,” or at best, “we do not have a vision that we are excited about.” Christian Schools that experience successful giving to their capital campaigns do three things well in the area of verbal and printed Christian School fundraising materials. These organizations reflect back on their journey, are vision-driven and boldly publicize their campaign. These essential elements (explored in more detail below) should be top of the list for fundraising program ideas. Your supporters want to understand what they are actually giving to. Make sure that your school board, headmaster and advancement director gives them the necessary vision and stewardship materials so that they can deeply understand and embrace what you are envisioning to do with the funds. Take note from the best Christian School capital campaign consultants: potential supporters will give to a cause that inspires them, and one they can believe in, before they will give to a mere institution. And if you inspire your giving base, you may want to make plans on how you are going to leverage the increased funds, because a strategic Christian School campaign (even with a debt reduction component) can far exceed the proposed vision funding needs and/or remaining loan payoff!

Reflect back on your journey.

church fundraising couple

Rev. 12:11 says, “And they have conquered him (the accuser) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” This says that retelling your redemptive story has power. And it is safe to conclude that this applies to more than the incredible, unmerited grace that awakened one’s individual faith, but of all the ongoing graces that has allowed the people (corporately) of your Christian School to be used of God in significant and measurable Kingdom work. Looking back, in the hope of growing everyone in memorable gratitude and gracious living, is a great endeavor and should be done over and over. But more than just the stories that relate to the end-receivers of the Christian School’s distinctive services, this is a great opportunity to celebrate specific stories of how God has moved in the lives of those who have trusted Him through giving generously to previous fundraising and capital campaigns.

Good Christian School fundraising materials give these stories a “shelf life” far past merely speaking/sharing them publically. In successful fundraising efforts for Christian Schools, these documented stories offer traction to your promoting generous stewardship by showing how your Christian School has helped to grow God’s kingdom. These stories give donors a clear idea of what their giving has done and/or will do. They also inspire other people to join you in your call for their partnership. These personal narratives, shared strategically on behalf of communicating a larger vision, can help unify your diverse givers – especially in the context of a school where the donors “see” and “serve” with each other regularly. Instead of downplaying all future school capital campaigns, look forward to them as a chance to share encouraging stories, which will set you up to re-cast your vision!

Be vision-driven, and communicate in a clear and compelling way.

capital campaign vision

Biblical Christian stewardship teaches us, as children of God who have received abundant grace, that we are to willingly and cheerfully join God in His redeeming work by giving from the many gifts and blessings that He has given us. Most Christians get that. But why do so many Christian Schools struggle to gain and sustain much needed support? Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish (or, are unrestrained), but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.” Biblical Fundraising (or stewardship), in light if this proverb, means asking your constituents to consider financially and relationally joining you so that your vision can become manifest. This requires the hard work of prayerful vision planning for your capital campaign. Few like to do it, but failing to do it is costly. Without a board/headmaster-led vision that people can get excited about, it might be better to avoid the subject altogether and face the consequences later.

To restate the proverb, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” The same is true in communicating a vision. Bad communications, of even a good vision, will always lead to a poor outcome and discouragement. A lack of good communications will also work against your effort to build a culture of generosity. Do not assume your supporters will initially understand the depth of your vision the way you and your Christian School board, headmaster or advancement director(s) do. Your donors have not had the up-front time with the vision content and plans. Because your supporters have less bandwidth to initially take-in the depth of your vision and plans, you will have to create a communication plan and process that draws and attracts their interest and focus. It is pleasing to the Lord to help your potential major donors, and the regular supporters, see and understand your God-size vision with clarity before asking for financial commitments.

Your supporters will give to a believable vision (and how it will impact their community and world) before they will give to a proposed budget or the call for mere bricks and mortar to be laid. Make your vision very clear and compelling. Building deep buy-in and ownership of your vision begins with honest, authentic communication. Answer these questions over and over in print, in small group gatherings and from the pulpit: Why should people give? And, what will be the difference made if they do so generously? Answering questions like this (and there may be many more from your supporters!) requires that your headmaster and advancement director prepare well and does its’ homework. Being very prepared will communicate strength and will inspire confidence in your vision and call for commitment.

Deep buy-in and ongoing joyous giving to any “faith-raising” endeavor will require an investment into high-caliber, compelling Christian School fundraising materials. Professional-level capital campaign materials will help you rally all God-led givers to an exciting and deeper understanding of what God has done, what He is currently doing, and what He is calling and challenging you to trust Him for. Christian School fundraising materials should make an impact: that quality in communications that strikes against the receiver and enlivens his/her mind to embrace a calling and to take action. If you are being led to a vision that will stretch your supporters, you must develop a communication program that is diverse in its various items to make an impact on the donors. Items incorporated in a well-planned, faith-raising capital stewardship campaign may include the following: an initial vision brochure, headmaster letters, Q&A trifold, prayer bookmark, newsletters, devotional journal, a pledge card, videos and an all-encompassing campaign booklet. Along with faith, prayer, good leadership, wise coaching, top-shelf capital campaign communications will be another means of God’s grace to accomplish something great for His kingdom!

Remember, there is continual competition for the support of your current and potential donors. A fresh or renewed vision (one that lines up with God’s redemptive mission, of course) is essential to keep your constituents from moving partially or fully toward outside solicitation for their once generous support. Your fresh or renewed vision MUST BE clearly and confidently presented, and it should be inspiring. All other Christian School fundraising program ideas flow out the larger vision and not the reverse. Your stated vision should say, “We are not in survival mode!” A survey from the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving showed that “survival” Christian organizations (with declining attendance and just barely enough finances), who went into a survival or maintenance mode for the past five years, were more likely to see a decrease in pledge amounts. Therefore, your vision and associated school capital campaign should be one that is faith-filled and one that anticipates good days of growth ahead. It should be one that compels supporters to join you. And remember, “less is more” when vision casting, so keep the core vision simple and understandable. Lack of clarity in the vision (or how it is articulated) will surely affect the fundraising. And lastly, do not make the huge mistake in your capital campaign of sharing the budget needs before your vision casting is thoroughly done. Otherwise, it will possibly be perceived as cold, aimless and even heartless. So strategize and plan for a well-received vision and faith challenge, and watch your supporters get on board with their heart and wallet to see it come to reality. St. Augustine said, Faith is to believe what you do not yet see; the reward for this faith is to see what you believe.”

Boldly publicize your campaign.

church fundraising couple

Whether the support base of your Christian School is 100 or 5,000, effective capital campaign communications make a huge difference in the receptivity of your vision and the call to participate. Christian Schools can no longer assume that their support base will merely give because they always have. Top-of-mind awareness is essential to keep donors interested. Capital campaign marketing materials must be strongly leveraged to ensure that the school board and headmaster’s new vision and plans are clearly understood and received. These fundraising materials must be planned strategically, and wisely distributed. Unlike some fundraising ideas for Christian Schools suggest, avoid doing a one-time dump of the information that is more like asking your donors to drink from a full-on fire hose! Rather, incorporate a “drip method” of communicating that gives them time to take in the information in small bits. Take a lesson from successful advertising initiatives. Marketing communication pros understand that achieving deeper buy-in of their client’s product or service requires not only clever and clear messaging, but also multiple hits (drips) from a well-timed distribution. The same applies to your vision and the invitation to fund it.

On top of a proven method of distributing your campaign story and message, the best Christian School capital campaign materials are exciting and compelling. And even if your capital campaign is part of a larger ongoing school funding effort that has lasted many years, each new round will require renewed energy. Invest the necessary time to make your upcoming Christian School fundraising materials different and engaging. Always develop a campaign logo that bears the vision-oriented title. Also, spend time to develop an overall thematic background design (BTW, we have a large selection of Christian School capital campaign themes!) that unifies the various campaign pieces (materials) and makes a positive statement about the confidence of the school board, headmaster and advancement director and it’s vision.

Imagine how much better this pro-active approach will be received than sending a passive (therefore negative) message about your capital campaign and/or debt reduction. Seek to be like the top schools that see successful giving to their Christian School campaign because they know that it is essential to make their capital campaign season a high point in the life of the school. They know that good communications, using a wide array of capital campaign marketing materials and video media to share the vision, are just part of a larger approach to cultivating deep and consistent donor relationships. It cannot be overstated: good and consistent capital campaign communications will reaffirm your uniquely inspired school/ministry narrative and vision for the road ahead, and will bring about deep resonance with your families/supporters in a compelling way for increased buy-in and pledges.

Besides a great communications plan, there are other very helpful relational strategies that will multiply your efforts.

capital communications

Well-funded Christian Schools are committed to communicate consistently (via calls, lunches, letters and more) with donors throughout the year, and see capital campaigns as a helpful catalyst that is one of the many necessary relational touches required in good donor care. One writer suggests that school headmaster or advancement director may want to personally visit and invest time in the individuals and families of the giving “minority” (the major donors!). He also suggests having vision lunches and dinners a few times a year to stay connected and to keep supporters (of all levels) up-to-date on the “work” and “fruit” of the vision. Search Christian School fundraising event ideas or Christian School fundraising dinner ideas for thoughts on how others have planned and executed these helpful donor events. Sending out quarterly newsletters, filled with compelling stories, help people see the impact that comes from faithfully trusting God. Rather than a “have to,” mindset toward funding your vision, approach it in a positive and faith-filled manner and expect your donors to get on board. Being systematic in your commitment to your faithful supporters will more than likely lead donors to actually increase their giving over time, because they feel so connected to the ministry of the school. Interestingly, one survey indicated that one-third of people who financially support their Christian School give more generously when measurable accomplishments are communicated to them. When people see how God works through their giving, there is usually a growing sense of gratitude for the opportunity to partner in His Kingdom work.

On top of consistently communicating to your donors, your capital campaign should be a core priority. Do not allow other major initiatives to compete with the private and public launch of your school capital fundraising campaign. The capital campaign should be the number one thing on the hearts and actions of the school board, headmaster and advancement director in order to communicate its priority in the life of the school. Make sure to plan the public launch of your capital campaign to “go live’ in the fall or spring when most people are regularly present and in town (not on vacations). Of course, avoid Christmas season and summer! Plan your calendar around any key dates that impact the community like school holidays / breaks.

Generous people lead happier and healthier lives.

Church fundraising pamphlets

A leading fundraising consultant shared this data with me years ago. “One recent study suggests that generosity makes the pleasure centers in the brain light up like an entertainment center. Those who donate money reap emotional benefits. A study in the Journal of Science analyzed the spending habits of 600 adults and how they related to the participants’ happiness. “We hypothesized that spending money on other people may have a more positive impact on happiness than spending money on oneself,” researcher Elizabeth Dunn wrote. “Participants who were randomly assigned to spend money on others experienced a greater happiness than those assigned to spend money on themselves.” (Vim & Vigor, Summer 2010).

Christian School capital campaigns can be something to look forward to. With a commitment to: 1) make your campaign an intentional part of your overall approach to generosity, 2) stretch beyond rational thinking to think faith-raising, not fund-raising, 3) unapologetically teach on receiving from God as the source of generosity, 4) work from a unified and participating school leadership, 5) positively and boldly approach your campaign, 6) share the great stories that God has done in your midst, 6) offer a fresh and inspired vision, 7) leverage compelling capital campaign materials, your campaign will be spiritually growing experience for you and your supporters!

Get in Touch: 678-820-3177

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