Does A Campaign Hurt Weekly Giving?

Whenever I visit with a church that is considering a capital campaign, I know which five or six questions I will field. Why spend money to raise money? How does this process work? Is a campaign heavy handed or does it involve arm twisting? How long does it take? How do you explain your remarkable success?

Okay, they don't ask that last one. But they should.

Another question is, "Does a campaign hurt weekly giving?"

The answer is no.

Of all the campaigns we have conducted only one church has reported a decrease in weekly giving in the first year of the campaign. This campaign not surprisingly took place in the economic downturn in 2008. Every other church has reported an increase in weekly giving or the giving has at least remained the same.

The reason is a campaign so focuses attention on the importance of giving, people are even more reluctant to decrease their "plate giving." They know their campaign pledges are above and beyond their regular giving, so they do not rob Peter to pay Paul. (This is what we often see with other special contributions. The contribution for tornado victims is $10,000 and your regular contribution is suspiciously down $5000 that same Sunday.)

A well-run capital campaign teaches basic principles of giving and these principles impact regular giving as well. So no, campaigns do not hurt weekly contributions. In fact, when the campaign ends, you will find that your members do not revert back to their pre-campaign giving levels but will remain at some higher level.