Whatever building dreams your organization has, one thing is certain: you’ll need to raise funds first.

Through our work with many church and nonprofit building committees over the years, NCI-Roberts has identified several fundraising strategies that can get construction projects off to a successful start.

begin now

Even if your building plans are years off, cultivating a culture of generosity now will make it easier to raise larger funds later. Think about the members and supporters of your organization — are they natural givers? Is giving a part of the very fabric of your organization?

Man's arm holding a hand weightRob Ketterling, Pastor of River Valley Church in Minnesota, has said that “giving is a muscle, not a reservoir.” The message there is that using it regularly makes it stronger, as opposed to draining it. Apply that mindset to giving and fundraising, and the key insight is that the more frequently people are asked to give (not just for one cause but for all reasons), the more they will give.

It’s never too early to start strengthening that muscle, but it’s also important to strike a balance, especially once fundraising campaigns are up and running. Reflecting upon a capital campaign for an addition, Fulton Church Lead (and now retired) Pastor Larry MacKenzie said, “Rest periods between active campaigns are a good idea if time allows.”

consider fundraising proffessionals

While it may seem extravagant to spend money on fundraising, a professional can offer expertise and insight on how best to set and meet your monetary goal. You can hire someone to handle the whole process, starting with a feasibility study and supporting through the conclusion of the campaign, or you can handle parts of it in-house. Consider your resources, both paid and volunteer, and your comfort with taking this on yourselves.

If you do hire a professional firm, it’s important to choose one with a philosophy that matches your organization’s culture. Problems can arise if a firm favors an approach that doesn’t mesh well with your members and supporters.


hands removing cash from a brown walletThe critical “silent” phase of fundraising is when the organization or fundraising leaders have individual, private conversations with key members and supporters about donations before it’s public knowledge that the building process has started.

The building committee and/or leadership team can be an important piece of this phase; it is easier to ask others to give if you yourself have given. When NCI-Roberts client Children’s Community School kicked off its fundraising campaign, board members made the first pledges.

A common second step is to identify a lead donor. These leading commitments can inspire other key partners.

According to local fundraising advisor McDonald Schaefer, recommendations for how much to raise before taking your campaign public range from 50-90%. The logic here is that others are much more likely to contribute if the goal seems attainable and they have confidence that the project will move forward.

When you do take your campaign public, make sure your message is clear. Many of NCI-Roberts’s clients have launched creative, inspiring, successful public campaigns. Recent examples include Children’s Community School, New Heights Church – The Grove, and Good News Lutheran Church. These campaigns have included dedicated websites, printed materials, videos and more.


Learn more about NCI-Roberts’ philosophy and process, and contact us with any questions you have.

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