Value of Personal Visitations

solicitationPersonal Visitations of individual church members/couples to other church members help to strengthen your church’s ministry. The reality is that most individuals/couple enjoy personal visitations among each other. Often, it is the only time when families can visit other families outside of Sunday worship. Gathering with fellow members is the best vehicle to share the “vision” for ministries and the mission of the church.

Personal visitation, especially through a capital campaign, also develops new leaders and strengthens the church’s volunteer base. The story of the church and its long range plan can be told so that a sufficient amount of dollars can be raised to make the vision a reality.

We advise churches that if structured properly, personal visitations are a very powerful ministry and can be continue long after a capital campaign is over.

Ashland Child Development Center Begins Capital Campaign Preparation

ACDC SnipAshland Childhood Development Center (ACDC), Ashland, KY, has begun the preparation for launching a capital campaign this fall. ACDC, with assistance from Evans/Davis, has drafted a campaign brochure, formed a campaign committee and begun the process of soliciting possible major gift donors.

The plan is to complete major gifts solicitations, as much as possible, over the summer. In that way, a campaign kick-off can be held early in the fall this year. The initial objective is $350,000.

Are You Ready for a Campaign?

This article contributed by Al Boren.

RUReadyAre you among the many smaller community and faith based organizations with heartfelt needs that can be met with capital funding projects IF you can only raise the money?  Well established cornerstones of successful capital/project campaign development such as a sound strategic plan, board leadership, stakeholder involvement, business sustainability, and compatible donor prospects are not always in place, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful!

In my experience, the best investment an organization can make for a major funding campaign readiness in today’s challenging environment is to develop a thorough vision plan as a well as executing a fund raising feasibility/assessment study. It may not produce what you want to hear, but what you need to know.    

The first step is for the organization to work with reputable fund-raising counsel to assist in discerning the vision plan, assess the findings, and undertake the necessary steps for ensuring campaign readiness. Essentials of a quality assessment/study will highlight strengths and weaknesses in the case, timing for philanthropic participation, perception of the organization, commitment of key leaders, plan for sustainability and the reception of top donor prospects.

Passion is a major driver of nearly all visions.  And, when supported by time-proven prerequisites for successful campaigns, your organization will achieve its vision at some level.


Al Boren is a development professional that has conducted numerous capital campaigns and feasibility studies with a successful career in the management of not for profit organizations.

The Assessment/Study – A Valuable Tool

assesEvans/Davis was recently contacted by a church and asked us to explain the value of the Assessment/Study. It was interesting because the church suggested… “There are about five individuals that will determine if we should do a capital campaign. If they are on board, we are good…if not, we wont do one.”

Well, this thought is only partially true. Whereas, major donors need to be interviewed to determine if there are sufficient dollars available to reach the desired amount, much more is gained through an assessment/study.

Besides dollar numbers the program gives other valuable information from the congregation that could significantly impact a capital campaign. These includes:

  • Their perceptions of the abilities of both the current lay and clergy leadership
  • Their feelings on the long-range vision plan for the church
  • A composite priority of how best to deal with the needs of the church
  • The perceived strengths and areas of church life that need help
  • The potential for campaign leadership
  • The best timing for as well as other influences, both internal and external, that could have an impact on a campaign

We suggest you contact us so that we can give you additional information that will help you in determining if an assessment/study is right for you.

When is the Best Time to Begin the Planning Process?

planningAnytime is a good time to begin developing a vision plan for the long term growth and development of your church. It just depends on church schedules and key dates on the church’s calendar.

A number of churches begin the process after Labor Day following summer vacations. For others, it begins immediately following their annual meeting. And, for some, the arrival of spring and the celebration of Easter mark a good time to begin the planning process. No matter the timing, it is imperative that your leadership is on board and ready to guide the church to discern God’s call for its future.

Our mission is to assist churches and their regional associations in setting hearts on fire for Christ. Please contact us so we can discuss timing and best options.

Get Help Early When Fundraising

The earlier, the better, is the rule to follow when involving fund-raising counsel in your new project, whatever it might be. Projects are completed by taking these four actions:

  • Defining your project in writing; what, where, when, how much and whom.
  • Securing all of the required funding.
  • Designing the project architecturally and structurally
  • Building the project with reliable construction

The two most time consuming actions are usually the fund-raising and the construction. You must allow for the time it takes to secure the gifts in a fund-raising campaign and to get sufficient payments in hand to begin construction. The construction–either new or remodeling–cannot be rushed. Chose and involve your counsel early.

Clearly Identify Your Potential for Fund-Raising

You need to identify your potential for fund-raising before your dreams for your new project get far beyond your potential to fund the project. You may have reserve funds, the ability to borrow money at an attractive rate, and the capability to raise significant dollars. How much do you have of each?

A fund-raising feasibility study early in the project will indicate ho much you can raise. This may help the architect in designing something you can afford. Then, all you need for fund-raising purposes is a site plan and ‘foot-print’ of the building to begin fund-raising. An architectural sketch might also be helpful, but you do not need complete architectural drawings. You save considerable money by not proceeding to complete architectural drawings to soon.

Types of Counsel Help

It is also important to involve fund-raising counsel early so you can decide which type of help will serve you best. The most common options are: Full- Time (on-site) resident counsel and Part-Time (periodically on-site) consultation. In the final analysis, the costs of raising funds are the same whether you use full-time resident help or periodic part-time help. The differences between the two are these:

Full-Time Resident help gives you a professional on-site full-time to guide your effort. Though a relatively intense effort is required, this process actually accomplishes the objective quickly and requires less staff time overall. More money is raised–usually significantly more–and the funds start coming in earlier. This approach works best when your constituency is well defined and fully informed.

Periodic Consultation gives you serve a few days a week or month and works best when you have a development professional on staff. The campaing takes longer, which can be an advantage when you need to build broad community awareness for your project. Out of pocket travel costs for the periodic visits do mount up and can be expensive.

Timing is Everything

Finally, early involvement of fund-raising counsel will permit you to plan the timing of your campaign correctly. Timing can be very important. Major gifts are often best sought in early fall. Churches may want to coordinate a capital fund campaign with their fall stewardship efforts.

Educational institutions may want to avoid conflicts with annual fund-raising campaigns while coordinating with major campus events. Social service agencies may have to schedule around United Way campaign or other important events. In the South and Southwest fund-raising may be most productive in the late fall to early spring. The northern portion of the country presents other issues relating to vacation schedules and winter migrations by major gift prospects.

The earlier the better is a smart move when it comes to bringing fund-raising counsel into your project planning. The nice part is that in generally costs no more to do so.

Church Capital Campaigns – What is the Best Approach?

A recent study of over 1000 churches across the USA who have recently completed capital campaigns revealed that subtle differences in campaign approaches yielded significantly different results. Here are the two key questions that are addressed in the study:

1) Does professional counsel make a difference and, if so, is there a difference in results between firms that take a more advisory approach versus assistance oriented approach?

2) Does how you reach out to people and ask for gifts make a difference in results?

Read Church Capital Campaigns – What is the Best Approach

The Lost Art of Personal Visitation for Fundraising

Fundraising for churches has gone through different variations in the past century, yet many of the basic tenets of fundraising remain the same, whether the fundraising is for the annual operating budget or a capital campaign. However, one area that has changed is that many churches have abandoned the practice of personal visitations when soliciting funds. Your church may find it helpful to consider bringing back this approach when planning for your annual stewardship campaigns.


Through the period from the end of WW II to the late 70’s, most churches in the United States that put on a fall pledge or faith commitment solicitations program to determine their budget for the next year would do a canvass of their congregation. This canvass was usually a system of personal visitations where couples visited couples or individuals visited individuals in their homes to discuss with them a financial commitment to the church for the coming year. In keeping with stewardship principals of Time, Talent and Treasure, families were asked to volunteer to assist their church with a ministry commitment as well.

Culture Change

But as the 80’s approached with increasingly both spouses having to work and congregations growing to larger sizes, the system of visitations gave way to the mailing of a solicitation letter. This letter usually states the needs of the church and asks for a percentage increase in giving over the previous year. While a church may have legitimate reasons for using the more impersonal approach with a general solicitation letter, your ministry may be missing out on an important technique that can help you better balance the budget. Personal visitations are time intensive, but can provide the necessary marginal increase in donations so that Church leaders and clergy aren’t placed in a position of making special appeals throughout the year to stay current on expenses.

The Case for Personal Visitation

Capital Campaign Personal SolicitationOf equal importance is the fact that personal visitations help strengthen your ministry. The reality is that most couples enjoy personal visitation among each other. Often, it’s the only time when many families can visit other families outside of Sunday worship. There is a note of camaraderie and friendship with these visits. Also, the gatherings are the best vehicle to inform fellow members of the “vision” for ministry and mission of the church. If the program is done correctly there is a “coming together” of the congregation into a unified spirit of optimism for the future. While raising significant dollars, a well managed, personal visitation campaign also develops new leadership and strengthens the church’s volunteer base. Additionally as we all know, it is harder to say “no” to a personal request from a fellow congregant. Unfortunately, too many churches have abandoned this effective method of fundraising and instead rely on impersonal letters from the Senior Minister or church treasurer.

A number of churches have also abandoned the personal visitation program for major capital campaigns. Since major capital campaigns are infrequent events, it is necessary that financial commitments be personally asked for from fellow members. It is the  way that the story of the church and its long term “vision” can be told so that a sufficient amount of capital dollars can be raised to make this “vision” a reality. Increasingly, well intended church leaders have chosen fund-raising counsel that does the solicitation themselves through a series of worship services or special events and does not use church members. These fundraisers argue that most volunteers “can’t ask for money” or that giving is a private affair and that personal solicitation visits can be too heavy handed. We caution against that way of thinking, and advise churches that if structured and used properly, personal visitations are a very helpful ministry tool.