No. 3: systems set-up for pledge campaigns

The links below this article will provide you with the strategic planning overview topics needed for the development of a written and administered plan for any-sized church.  Our churches can, if they are not careful, imagine that they are pathologically different “Oh Charles, __________ would never work in THIS church…we are so very different and so very special!”


I agree that your church is a wonderful manifestation of the body of Christ however, forgive me if I say that after raising money in, and leading churches for 35 years as a lay and clergy leader, people are people and they all give out of loyalty, gratitude, association, investment or guilt.  So it is important to meet humans with a stewardship ministry which makes it easy to make the gift about which they will feel so wonderful. Your congregation needs tools to make their pledge in the same way you and I need tools to eat our dinner…a knife, a fork, a plate, a napkin, a candle, a companion, a prayer, a scotch (or water).


The biggest mistake churches make is assuming that people should give because it is the right thing to do when a member … or because God will weep if they do not.  Neither is true.  People should only give to a church if the church deserves the money due to its profoundly impactful mission and effectiveness.  Every gift and pledge to a church is actually a gift to God through the church not to it.


There are lots of organizations which, based on what Jesus asked us to accomplish on earth (feed the hungry, minister to the sick, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, etc.) are worthy of our gifts to God THROUGH them. Jesus never mentioned giving money to the church and the one time Jesus spoke about money in the temple precincts it was, well, tumultuous to say the least.  Give to the Red Cross and you are giving to the naked.  Give to Heading Home and you are housing the destitute.  Give to Goodwill and you are caring for the marginalized. Give to a medical clinic for the financially poor and you will be caring for widows and orphans – among others.


Not only does the church have competition for philanthropic dollars, the competition is one Google click away.


So churches need not only to deserve the money they raise but also be able to communicate how and why they deserve the money they seek to raise.


The Advance Campaign will help churches with 20 members or 2,000 members to approach the pledgers and donors who are most easily predisposed to giving so that when your church’s campaign or program gets going, the effort of converting the unconvinced can get the time and attention it deserves.


Events, the ministry minutes or case offerings and the personal calls to those not yet pledged at the half-way point will provide the needed core of the work of any campaign.  Then thank, evaluate and begin planning again. (Please forgive the typo of numbers 10-12 repeated…let it represent emphasis!)


Planning the phases of a year-round program rather than an eight-week campaign will turn around your church’s stewardship and will provide your congregation with the help they need to make courageous pledges as well and the joy they need to feel confident about their pledge as a worthy philanthropic investment.


God has many characteristics, but they seem to be able to be boiled down to three things:


God is lover.  God is creator. And God is giver.


We humans have been made in that image.  So we too are made to love, to create and to give.  Do not raise money!  Help your congregation to be great lovers, creators and givers – and the money will raise itself.


For a template/handout on this plan outline go to:


For a short video to teach your Vestry or Bishop’s Committee (Deacons, Board of Directors, etc.) how to create a plan go to


where you will find the first of a series of 25 films created in 2016 to accompany these documents.  The remaining 24 more videos are soon to be placed with key documents as a teaching tool.


In the next article, we will look at the value of special events to motivate pledging in a campaign of any size.


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