The following is a guest post by Todd McMichen. Todd serves as the Chief Campaign officer for Auxano. Auxano helps churches navigate the challenges of growth with vision and mission clarity.
Coming right out of seminary I found my way onto the staff of some amazing churches. We grew rapidly, constantly added services, purchased land, and expanded buildings. Along with this I experienced back-to-back-to-back capital campaigns. Inevitably, we raised less than our goal, and the experience left much to be desired. On our final project, instead of using an outside firm, we decided to implement a staff-led campaign with a focus on vision clarity, cultural sensitivity, and discipleship. The result was astounding; we raised five times our annual income and achieved a significant expansion project debt free. I went from hating campaigns to loving them because I gained the clarity that when done well, campaigns can yield results.
Emphasis 1: PROCESS
Product vs. Process
I hated that a “customized experience” really meant a cut-and-paste manual. A manual from a company entrenched in a context different from mine just didn’t fit the bill. We were being sold a product not given the specialized direction we wanted.
What we really needed was a process.
It is about the vision and the story. God calls his people to take big mountains for his glory. The call and step of faith is no less significant than Israel crossing the Red Sea or Jordan River. Certainly you can’t contain this in a manual. The story is bigger than any product.
Emphasis 2: SYNERGY
Separation vs. Synergy
I hated the approach. Sure we raised money, but it wasn’t fun. Putting a structure and plan together devoid of our active leadership culture and practices didn’t make sense. The tension and disconnect it created was noticeable.
What we really needed was team synergy.
A great campaign is only possible with an “all in” approach from your staff team, leadership, and organizational body. Unfortunately, this can be a rare experience because most organizations unknowingly build silos over time. When we are asked to climb a God-sized mountain together, it will only happen with everyone surrendering to the vision. That provides an amazing experience.
Emphasis 3: VALUE-ADDED
Over-Valued vs. Value-Added
I hated the price. It was so expensive to contract with outside firms, and we did nearly all the work. I really struggled with the stewardship of resources.
What we really needed was a value-add opportunity.
It is so much fun now to be the Chief Campaign Officer for the non-profit, Auxano. Approaching the journey from the perspective of an internal staff member vs. an outside consultant is fulfilling. Beginning with a whiteboard and knowing the answers are in the room before we get started is empowering. Asking the right questions to help leaders think thru their significant opportunity produces such clarity. This clarity delivers an intuitive strategy that results in a maximized investment of resources.
Emphasis 4: TOMORROW
Today vs. Tomorrow
As a staff member we would put all this time and energy into a project with the result being money, exhaustion, and disconnect. We longed to put in place a process that wouldn’t settle for short-term gain over better long-term results.
What we really needed was to be leading an organization that was ready for tomorrow.
It is an opportunity to engage new volunteers, leaders, and practices. When I left staff several years ago I learned very quickly that finding a place to serve and belong in a local church was crazy hard. The same is often true in cause-based non-profits. Leaders must be intentional about developing processes to engage people – people need easy on-ramps to get involved. Campaigns do both. You can build the building, but will you be ready to use the tool? The building is only a tool, it is not the vision or the engine of ministry.
Emphasis 5: COMPREHENSIVE
Narrow vs. Comprehensive
I hated the narrow focus. The emphasis upon adults, key donors, and money, along with the lack of a clearly designed, holistic discipleship strategy really bugged me.
What we needed was to provide an opportunity for people to clearly hear God and follow.
A campaign is an opportunity to do more than raise money. Certainly, great campaigns take a lot of work. Good leaders aren’t afraid of hard work. We just want to see measurable results. Increasing stakeholders, volunteers, leaders, disciples, members, and visionaries are all possible while your raising generosity. It is also an opportunity to disciple the current and next generation. A great campaign should strategize for spiritual disciplines, habits, and new conversations in the home. Every step is a new step in discipleship. We need to seize the moment. A campaign is nothing more and nothing less than focused energy over a period of time for a measurable result. It is a journey scaling a God-sized mountain together with the opportunity to experience God’s calling, direction, and growth in exponential ways. Who doesn’t want that?
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