Pastors' Forum


Raising Funds for New Facilities

“I am considering entering into a capital campaign for a building project. What are the best ways to raise funds for new facilities? What are the pros and cons of capital campaigns? Is this something we should do in-house, or should we look for an outside company/service to assist us? Everything that we have done until now has been taken care of from the general budget in terms of construction and purchasing land, but our next project is going to be much larger. Thanks for any advice along these lines.”


Pastor Dave Williams – Lansing, MI
Okay, I’ve had 30 years of experience on this matter. Maybe my thoughts will be helpful.

First, make sure the building project is (a) needed, and (b) God-directed. I’ve found that considering these two things is the first step. I always ask, “Is there another way?”  For example, can I go to two or three Sunday services (if we are talking about the worship center). That which is born of the Spirit is Spirit and that which is born of the flesh is flesh. In other words, you want an “Isaac” building program, not an “Ishmael” project.

Second, I use the pattern David used when preparing to have Solomon build the Temple. David gave FIRST, and then told his leaders what he did. The leaders in turn made their contributions (Read I Chronicles 29:1-9). Next, when the people saw the generosity of the leaders, they made their contributions with enthusiasm.

Third, take pledges (or faith promises) for three years after you have built the excitement, printed brochures, shown video renditions, etc. People are motivated when they SEE the future, as presented by the pastor, and when they know the pastor and his team are committed. People need to see an end in sight. Never keep an open-ended pledge period. In other words, people are likely to make a three-year capital campaign pledge, but not an indefinite pledge.

Fourth, honor the donors. When we built Phase 2 (children’s and youth action centers) we made a “Book of Remembrance” with every donors name displayed in a glass box. Each day a different page is open and we pray over the book every time we walk by it in the hall (it’s enclosed in glass, but the pages are changed daily.)

Fifth, give regular updates on the project, and the amount of money that has been raised. Be creative. Use thermometers on the wall, etc.

Sixth, never change the capital campaign mid-stream. Plan it well and don’t change it along the way. People need consistency.

Seventh, only once did I use an outside source for a capital campaign. I found that I always did better myself. People trust the pastor. He doesn’t need a professional fundraiser (that is my opinion based on my experience) and when people know that God is your source, they are seeing an example of how they are to live also. You can go online or to a bookseller and get all kinds of information on non-profit fundraising. But, pastor … you have to do it. You can’t hire someone or appoint someone to do it for you (You can have delegates to gather information, schedule meetings, find testimonies, etc., but the pastor is the one who, under God’s anointing, will make it happen).

Eighth, be prepared to face some opposition in any capital campaign. Don’t get discouraged. One pastor told me that he hates building programs because of the “obligatory lawsuits” that come every time. I might add, some members will leave, saying they are no longer being fed, when in reality, they are afraid you want in their pocket.

Ninth, celebrate big when complete.

Pastor Gary Hoffman – Rocky Mount, VA
“practice the payments.” I was going to need to borrow a million dollars, so for one year I paid my savings account a monthly payment of $8500. I was saving some money and I also “proved” that I could afford a million dollar loan. Also, remember that no building project is every done in budget, I would allow for an extra 20%. I know that it sounds like a lot, but better safe than sorry.

Pastor Mike Cameneti – Canton, OH
We just completed the largest building campaign we have ever done at Faith Family Church in Canton, OH. I will share some thoughts on what we felt the Lord directed us to do.

We worked in a capital campaign with INJOY Stewardship Services (John Maxwell’s company at that time). We researched many companies and just felt that INJOY fit what we needed. What a blessing and pleasure it was to work with them! I would recommend anyone to check them out.

When doing a capital campaign, you have to go into it knowing that there will be a lot of work and meetings required of you as the pastor, but now I can look back at the first one we did and say it was worth it all!

At the time of our first campaign, we had not yet purchased a new building or even a piece of land; we just had to cast a precise vision to our congregation of what we saw for the future our church.

The gentleman we worked with from INJOY gave me this advice: You must answer the who, what, where, and when, when casting your vision. Our congregation responded wonderfully to the vision and made some great commitments! We had four times our general budget pledged to the campaign.

After that first campaign was over, we did two more in-house organized campaigns. They were both as successful; considering that in most cases, second and third campaigns are known for not raising the same percentages.

Looking back, I would give these words of advice:

  1. Keep the vision in front of your congregation weekly. We did this by showing weekly progress charts on our projector screens during service so people could see their money being used to pay for certain areas of the building each week.
  2. Rejoice at big and small amounts coming in. People will stay connected if they know you are excited!
  3. Show results (pictures or videos) of the building being constructed and completed. Our congregation would get so excited about this.
  4. If possible, use a point man from your church to oversee the project. We did this so my wife and I did not have to carry the load of the project.

Each church is unique in its calling and direction of what God has called them to do. We did our best to follow the leadings of the Lord in every area. As we look back now that we are in our new building, we are satisfied and blessed by what the Lord did!

Pastor John Nuzzo – Cranberry Township, PA
We have done 4 capital projects in the last 16+ years totaling over 17 million dollars, and we are currently in the middle of a 13 million dollar expansion. I would suggest that when you don’t have experience in a given arena to add the value of others in the body of Christ.

In the beginning we didn’t use an outside company to assist us in our fundraising, and it worked out just fine. However, we soon reached a point when not adding the value of others cost us dearly. We tried to use our past knowledge for a future purpose. We found ourselves lacking and it showed up very clearly in our efforts. In our last two projects we used a company to assist us in our fundraising, and now looking back, it was a very wise investment. Now that we have learned what they taught us, we will do our own fundraising in the future, but still seek help in areas where we are not strong internally. Some of the things they taught us were somewhat uncomfortable to me, but I listened and saw that their information was biblical and ethical. I have learned that before I stretch my church, I must stretch myself.

One of the concerns that we had was the cost of using an outside company. I would suggest seeing an outside consultant as a temporary employee and not as money you could have saved. Based upon this type of reasoning, you could see each employee’s salary of your ministry as expendable and you know how devastating this would be to your church and its vision. A good friend of mine made a statement that I think applies to this issue. Years ago, he attended a John Maxwell conference and had purchased hundreds of dollars of material. He had struggled in pastoral ministry for years and was contemplating giving up. A group of his friends began to joke with him and told him that he was foolish for spending his money and that was exactly what Maxwell wanted him to do. His statement to his friends has stuck with me through the years. He said, “Guys, if you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”  That small investment proved to be the source of what propelled him to gaining the skills and understanding to help fulfill the call upon his life.  He has gone from pastoring a church of 200+ people to over 2,000 people. The impact he is making in his community is overwhelming.

Pastor Sam Smucker – Lancaster, PA
We have done 3 capital campaigns through the years for our building projects. Each time we used a different organization. Each time they were most helpful in helping us cast the vision to the congregation in an organized way. They have an expertise that we felt we did not have which was very helpful to us. The question we dealt with each time was – do we do it ourselves or do we engage an organization that has experience in this area. Each time we came to the conclusion we would benefit from outside help, and we did. The most recent one we did, the congregation pledged 1½ times our annual income over a 3 year period which is reasonably good – sometimes campaigns do 2 or 3 or even 4 times their annual income over a 3 year period. This giving of course is over and above your normal giving. Some might ask, “Does this effect your normal giving?”  Our experience has been that our normal giving stayed steady and even increased.

Pastor Gerald Brooks – Plano, TX
In any field, relying on people who have developed expertise in specific fields of ministry is wise. Pastors are “general practitioners,” so occasionally a specialist is needed. Usually, fund-raising organizations charge $50,000 for the services. Unfortunately, their model does not fit Word of Faith or independent churches; their design is for board and committee driven churches. David Swann and I wrote a program for our style of churches that requires five meetings to organize with the expense being $18,000, plus it works better with the DNA match fitting, without the rejection. It is vision driven and helps the pastors reach their economic goals. Our churches are unique organizationally – not board driven – but Holy Spirit driven, leadership driven, and pastor driven. These “uniquenesses” are typically not considered by mainline fundraisers.

Pastor Rob Wynne – Linden, AL
My main focus has always been, “does this add up with the “spirit of faith” which we preach?”  I personally feel that hiring someone to do it for you sends a message that I would not want to send to my people. First, that I am not confident in my relationship with the Lord and with them. Second, that I am not sure about my ability to lead my people. I teach my people to believe people when they tell them who they are by their actions.

I am not against promoting a building project, but I would do it in-house. It would not be bad to use a company under the radar to produce materials to use. But you must take the lead and they must be a “ghost writer”. I would be very careful with my method not to present a faithless campaign.

Pastor John B. Lowe – Warsaw, IN
I recommend raise the money first; at least half. Pledge the rest or borrow it. The payment should not exceed half of your income. For example, if the church split and you lost half of your givers (not attendees), then could you survive?  Count on 40 percent of pledges coming in and the rest out of the general account.

Here are several key factors in having a capital campaign that is successful.

1 – Casting the vision. Asking people to make a long term financial commitment that lasts more than a guest minister or a one-Sunday-a-year special offering requires having a vision. Stephen Covey states it best when he says, “Begin with the end in mind.”  People must have no doubt as to the importance of why this capital campaign must be done and what it will produce.

Be specific – The Word of God says to write the vision and make it plain, so that those that read it may run with it. Giving people the proverbial, “It will help us grow” speech is not enough. It is crucial to know not only “how”, but “what” areas of ministry will be most impacted. EX: Will the children’s ministry benefit the most from this campaign?  Did the church run out of room to effectively minister to the most precious gift, our church’s children?

Take some time – It is impossible to cast the full effect of the vision in one Sunday morning service. An overview can be done in that amount of time, but to effectively communicate the importance of this building project will take one to two months of subtle teaching and preaching to really cast a solid vision that people will take on as their own. (Building line upon line, precept upon precept) Trying to do this in only one service and then asking for a financial commitment can lead to “buyer’s remorse.” We don’t want people to feel like they went to a used car salesman and had a take it or leave it offer… “Act now, today and today only”.

2 – Build in buffers – As donations come in make sure to have at least one-third of the total cost on hand before building commences. This amount may not be required if financing is done, but it will allow for the “unforeseen”.

Set aside one year of mortgage payments – this will help take any pressure off the pastor to have to stand up and receive one the most dreaded offerings in their life… “We are going under if we don’t have…”   This will also help if a church split may occur, or should I say “when” some form of a split occurs. If the church attendance drops in half and you have one year’s worth of payments set aside, this allows you up to two years to regain any lost momentum and new people to catch the vision.

3 – Consider a time limit – No one wants to feel like they are making a “life-long” financial commitment. When we buy a car we are told it is so much per month for a specific amount of time. People can feel a little better if they know there is an end date on their commitment. Always give people a time frame so they can hook up in faith. Remember, many people will be giving sacrificially and they cannot be expected to maintain that until the third, fourth and fifth building project is completed. People love to see and attain a goal.

4 – Avoid shock and dismay – Please know going in that not everyone will complete, or even start their commitment, so don’t be shocked by this. Even though you are dealing with Christians and you are operating in faith, this portion of a building project is still a numbers game. No more than 60%-70% will fulfill their pledge.

Some will move away…some will lose a job and have to adjust their amount…some got caught up in the moment and pledged an amount that was not faith, but rather foolishness and because of embarrassment will not fulfill their commitment.

5 – Physical involvement – Try to have some things that will get everyone physically involved with the building project. It could be “sweat equity”, or something similar. It may be painting a mural on the children’s wall. It may be pouring a concrete sidewalk. Or, it could be decorating a specific room. This will help the vision take root and give ownership of the building. You do not want to build your entire building with volunteers because it will never get done. However, people are more apt to invest in things they “own” and they maintain them better as well.

Pastor David Emigh – Sand Springs, OK
I have not been involved in a capital campaign for a building program but I do understand they have been successful for many people. I can share with you what I have done and we have had success in paying for our buildings. We rented a facility for our first four years and during that time saved money and paid cash for our land. Then we did a construction loan and begin to retire that note and did that – we paid it off early. An older pastor told me this one time, I think it is sound advise as he had built several church buildings, “Save one third, raise one third and borrow one third.”

When we needed to build onto our existing building, which almost doubled our size, God spoke to me and said to build by cash and do not borrow. That was a big step, but I know that I had heard the voice of God. We did that and I broke the building down into steps like ground prep and a slab, etc., and we were creative in presenting each step to our church family and we were able to do that. By the time we were ready to buy our youth center we were financially established and borrowed for it and paid it off early. Since that time we have raised the money for all remodels and paid with cash. The greatest advice I could give is hear God and do it by faith and keep your debt as low as possible.

Pastor T.R. Harper – Jacksonville, AL

  1. Have a plan of what you are going to build.
  2. Set a goal of how much to raise before you break ground
    Example:  When we reach $90,000 money in bank, we will break ground.
  3. Present the total amount needed. Break it down in bite-size amounts. Example: How much can you give over the next 5 years?  Can you give $100 a month, which is $1200 a year, which is $6000 in 5 years?
  4. Make a chart to give every person in church.
    Example: 25.00 a month = 300.00 a year = 1,500.00 in 5 years
    50.00 a month = 600.00 a year = 3,000.00 in 5 years
    100.00 a month = 1200.00 a year = 6,000.00 in 5 years
    200.00 a month = 2400.00 a year = 12,000.00 in 5 years
  5. Your project can be considered an elephant. If everyone takes a bite, the elephant
    will soon be consumed. The key is everyone taking a bite – small or large.
  6. Monthly reminder of elephant.

Pastor Denny Beavers – Jonesboro, AR
When we built our new worship center (broke ground May 2008, completed January 2009), we did our own Capital Campaign rather than hiring an outside company. In most cases, the net results from using an outside company even after paying their fees will be better than doing an in-house campaign because these companies specialize in what they do. However, some people in the congregation may feel pressured by an outside person/company that makes a strong appeal for them to sacrifice and give. Also, the fact that a percentage of the funds pledged, not given, will be paid to the outside company and not go to the Building Fund may upset some people. The main reason we used an in-house program was that we didn’t feel that using an outside company was the right thing for our church at the time. When we began our campaign, we had approximately 100 households attending our church. The majority of our members were families with children, working normal jobs, and many single mothers with children. Most of them were already tithing and had little savings and investments to tap into. For future projects we will re-evaluate our situation and consider the possibility of using an outside company. The most important thing is to be led by the Holy Spirit and do what is best for your church or ministry at the time.

A couple of important things to be aware of when building and raising funds is that you need to (a) start planning and preparing years in advance and (b) that people give to a Cause or Purpose more than they do for a building. We watched our budget closely for years to have the down payment and financial statements needed to acquire a loan and worked closely with our local banker to know what would be needed. When we began our “Building a Legacy of Faith” Building Campaign, we shared continually the purpose of building a larger and nicer facility. It was not for us, but for them – our children, youth, grandchildren, the hopeless, the hurting, the bound, the oppressed, the sick, the poor, and the nations that God has called us to reach with the Gospel.

When we did our Capital Campaign, we used Rick Warren’s “A Time to Build” program as a guideline and then modified and personalized it for our church. We did a six week campaign with the Sunday morning messages all relating to the building program – serving, sacrifice, commitment, giving, etc. We also gave every family in the church a comb-bound “Building a Legacy of Faith” promotional booklet that included the following information. (1) 5 Purposes and What to Expect, (2) Now is the Time to Build, (3) What are we Going to Build, (4) Goals and What’s Required to Reach Them, (5) God’s Way to Build a House of Worship, (6) Your Questions Answered, (7) Creative Ways to Increase Your Giving, (8) Nothing Great Ever Happens Without Commitment, and (9) A Guide to Discerning God’s Will In Giving.

If you are considering a Building Program and would like to receive a free copy of our “Building a Legacy of Faith” promotional booklet(not comb-bound) and a three page outline entitled “Lessons Learned after Completing a Church Building Program”, please e-mail your request and mailing address to Also, if you are interested in seeing some interior and exterior pictures of our new building for ideas, you can visit our web site at

Pastor Ray Almaguer – Glendora, CA
We have done a couple of successful capital stewardship campaigns. For our first campaign we hired an outside company. The campaign lasted for 36 months. The benefit to us in hiring an outside company was they gave us a step-by-step plan to follow. They also provided a consultant who did 6 training sessions. They provided notebooks and resources that were full of ideas. There was stuff in there we would have never thought of. For us it was a good decision.

We did our second campaign in-house, following the basic plan of the first campaign. It too was a 36 month commitment. Basically, in my opinion, it boils down to asking people to pray and obey. We asked them to prayerfully make a 36 month commitment that was over and above their tithe. For us, this was the secret. Until we challenged our members like this, we were never able to save much in our building fund. As the pastor, you have to lead the way in praying and obeying. You must be a model of commitment and sacrifice that the people can follow. I believe the right timing is very important in conducting a successful campaign. If you feel the time is right, take courage and go for it.

Dr. Dan Beller – Tulsa, OK
My main advice is to not hire an outside consultant to lead in a capital campaign.
We did this where I pastored but had much negative results because the “outsiders” did not relate to the local congregation very well. Some of the people left the church and we were not able to raise the needed amount of money to build and expand as planned. After a few years, we did build the buildings needed by raising money inside the church and also by obtaining loans.

My recommendation is to form proper committees, to involve the people, and to do the capital campaign internally. The people will feel that they are doing the work and not being coerced by people outside the local church.