Diocesan and parish-wide capital campaigns create a diverse range of volunteer opportunities for devoted parishioners, including the chance for meaningful and thoughtful engagement with fellow parishioners. Your campaign’s success ultimately depends on the commitment of these volunteers who are asked to champion your case for support.

With this in mind, your first task in selecting volunteer leadership is identifying a chairperson or co-chairs. As a crucial leadership position, the campaign chair should be open to maximizing relationships to assist with major gift prospect visits. It is important for parish staff and lay leadership to identify a core group of individuals who will be able to assist the pastor and lead the parish campaign in three ways: give, inspire, and advocate.

Give

It is no surprise that parishioners who are generous in their church giving are also active and faithful stewards in the church. When launching a campaign, it is this flock that a pastor often looks to for initial feedback and support. With a personal invitation from the pastor, these committed parishioners may be willing to take on the task of joining your campaign’s volunteer committee. As a first step, prior to recruiting your volunteers, the pastor should be prepared to ask potential lay leaders for their gift. A financial commitment from the chair is a precursor to the campaign’s launch. Additionally, a parishioner’s commitment of their time, talent, and financial support will infuse early momentum into your campaign’s success.

Inspire

Capital campaigns present a unique opportunity for parishioners to get involved in parish ministry. This is great for your campaign, as the Corporation for National and Community Service reports that the second responsibility that volunteers take on is fundraising. An effective chairperson will be able to motivate and inspire fellow parishioners to make a personal gift, as well as to devote their own time to the project.

Advocate

When launching a capital campaign, it is critical to have strong leadership and support of both the campaign plan and the parish’s needs. While it is always important for pastors to serve as the lead in this role, campaign chairpersons are also helpful in this endeavor. The chairperson is able to talk about the campaign from the perspective of a parishioner. Additionally, they can also serve as a partner to the pastor, joining him on visits and hosting small groups to present and champion the fundraising effort.

Preparing the Chairperson for their New Role

Coaching a parishioner to take on a chairperson role requires hands-on guidance and support. There are three critical steps that church leaders can take to ensure the chairperson’s success:

  1. Provide them with the proper support and resources.

Participation in a capital campaign can require a substantial amount of time from volunteers, especially the chairperson, in the early phases of the campaign. Ensure that your organization is prepared to provide training, feedback, and materials to support your campaign chair in their role.

  1. Be clear about expectations and responsibilities.

The chairperson must understand the needs of the campaign and how their involvement is fundamental to its success. Be clear in responsibilities, expectations, and deadlines. Developing a job description can also be helpful in communicating the framework of the position.

  1. Set them up for success.

Before sending your chairperson out on major gift visits, make sure you have carefully identified your prospects. Using Wealth Engine screening or other tools can be helpful, but also assessing anecdotal evidence and the parish’s history with the parishioner can help narrow down capacity, interests, and motivations for supporting the parish.

A capital campaign can be a transformative experience for your parish. Engaging strong leadership can inspire active stewardship for many years to come.

CCS Fundraising is a strategic fundraising consulting firm that partners with nonprofits for transformational change. Members of the CCS team are highly experienced and knowledgeable across sectors, disciplines, and regions. With offices throughout the United States and the world, our unique, customized approach provides each client with an embedded team member for the duration of the engagement. To access our full suite of perspectives, publications, and reports, visit our insights page. To learn more about CCS Fundraising’s suite of services, click here.

About the Author

A former Associate Director for CCS Fundraising, Jerome’ Holston is now the Director at LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois.