Economic Crisis Affecting Capital Campaigns

By • on November 30, 2008 • Filed under: Church Capital Campaign
Depending on what part of the country the church is in, the current economic downturn most likely affected the results of capital campaigns that were kicking off this fall. Based on the results of our church capital campaigns that were already in the planning stage for kickoff this fall, pledge commitments received are substantially less than the estimates made before the downturn. In areas especially hard hit, such as areas supported by the big three auto makers, commitments were as little as 50% of the expected range of results. In areas less impacted, results were off as little as 15% of the expected results.
It seems people are hunkering down, holding onto their money, and avoiding long range financial commitments.

In large part, it seems that commitments are reduced more because of uncertainty as to how much worse it may get before it gets better, than to real current economic hardship.

Historically, national economic stress generally has very little impact on giving. According to research from the Giving USA Foundation, which analyzes charitable fundraising, giving increased an average of 8.4 per cent in years without a recession and by 6.2 percent in years with a recession (in current dollars, before adjusting for inflation). The average rate of change in giving during a recession is a drop of only 1 percent, the foundation reports. In the worst recession year for giving, 1974, contributions dropped a total of 5.4 per cent.

The current downturn in long term giving commitments then is most likely due to the FUD factor – fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
What this means for spring 2009 capital campaigns is anyone’s guess and depends a great deal on what happens over the next few months with respect to the credit crunch, major industry, and employment. More bad news will certainly not improve the FUD factor, but we need to keep the faith. If you have a need to build and you believe that God is calling you to build, then rest in the promise that He will meet your needs. Your task then is to count the cost, separate needs from wants and go forward in faith.
Fear, uncertainty, and doubt; these things are not of God. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7


I’d love to hear how your fall capital campaign fared. Please post a reply with details of goal and commitment amounts. Your input will help other churches plan their capital campaigns.

You may also be interested in reading my October blog post, “Should churches build in these times of economic uncertainty?”

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