Over the past few weeks we've shared two interviews about successfully leading capital campaigns; the first was with Rev. Kurt Liebenow of Christian Faith Moravian in DeForest, Wisconsin, and the second was with Gail Theard, Grace Moravian (NC) member and chair of Laurel Ridge's recent Feed My Sheep campaign.
Today we're excited to add the final interview in the series; I had the pleasure of talking to John and Susan Mickey, members of Home Moravian Church, about the church's recent "It's Our Home. It's Our Time." campaign.
- What were you raising money for? We had a list of major projects that totaled several million. The economy began to change so we prioritized the order. We didn't have a dollar amount in mind as much as what projects we most wanted to complete, so it wasn’t about the numbers. It was a beautiful twist to take away the dollar goal.
- How much did you raise, then, and what were you able to complete? We’ve raised almost $2.3 million and completed Sanctuary renovations (new air handling system, flooring, pews, paint, sound system, lighting, and cameras for web broadcasts; enhanced choir loft and 180 degree rotation of organ, protection for stained glass windows), Parlor improvements (new window treatments and kitchen), and Fellowship Hall work (painted, new sound system, and deep cleaning of flooring). We had a final push to renovate the church’s chapel; it has been renamed the Saal.
- How did you become co-chairs of the "It’s Our Home. It’s Our Time." campaign? Our pastor asked us to meet with him. Susan: I was on a small committee of wedding directors and thought maybe he was going to ask us to chair that! John: I was on the Elders and had heard talk about a capital campaign. After we were asked to chair that, I said we should take time to talk and pray about it, but Susan said, “You don't think we can do it?” So we said yes right then.
- How did the campaign begin? The beginning was well-managed: we knew we were going to have conversations with members by inviting them to come together in small groups, so we had training for the people who would facilitate those conversations. We hand-addressed the invitations and began meeting with people in summer of 2008. Our Joint board had developed a project list; it was shared and we listened to people’s feedback and heard their ideas about what was important for the church. It was valuable to get to know people through listening to them. Finally we presented the campaign during worship in early 2009. John: I was very nervous and as we spoke I could see people shaking their heads; the economy wasn’t doing well at all. I said, “We share the faith; now let's share the courage.”
- Tell me about leading the campaign together. Taking it on as a couple enriched our marriage; we had a lot of fun. It would've been difficult if only one of us had led it. We realized that for a couple, besides housework, home renovations and raising a family, you don't work together. This was an opportunity to work together and let our individual strengths and skills complement each other’s. It was a lot of hard work but it brought out chances for us to grow together.
- What was a memorable moment during the campaign? We began the final sprint for the Saal and were a little overwhelmed by the numbers…we were kind of blue about the amount of money we would have to raise quickly. There’s a church on our road with drive-through prayer; we’ve driven by it for 25 years and never stopped! We decided we needed whatever help we could get so one day we pulled in. Susan: We knew they'd ask what we wanted to pray about and we knew we needed a big prayer so I told John to bring money. A woman came out, leaned in the car window, we shared our names, and she asked what we wanted to pray about. We told her we needed support and strength for the end of our church’s capital campaign. She took my hand, I took John's hand, and we prayed. I started crying as John was reaching to get more money for her! But she wouldn't take it; she told us that wasn’t what the praying was about. Her prayer gave us a boost to move energetically forward.
- How did you communicate the progress of the campaign? We included positive information in every leaflet, newsletter, etc. We used special stationary for any campaign mailings. There were board members on the campaign cabinet who constantly reported back to the boards. We got joint board approval to go forward with the project list after our conversations with the congregation and the advance gifts were committed. We were as transparent as possible. John: I really improved my public speaking. At the beginning of the campaign, when I knew we were speaking during worship, I would practice weeks ahead of time. By the end of the campaign, we were writing what we were going to say as we were on our way to church!
- What surprised you about the campaign? We really got into it; it was more fun than we expected. We had to segment it so it wouldn’t dominate our lives as we knew all we’d talk about was the campaign. The energy we got from leading it really lifted us up.
- What advice would you give a church that is considering a capital campaign? Don't let 20 years go by between campaigns! The last Home Church campaign was in 1988 so the capital needs were huge. The rejuvenation of facilities is important for current members and bringing in new members. Even if it's just a small project, put them in every 5 to 7 years. Buildings are gifts and they need capital care; members have to connect with those needs and give to support them.
Also, use any resources available to you. Talk to the Moravian Ministries Foundation about their services (we used them for receiving, acknowledging, and tracking our gifts). Look for lay leaders and have a campaign cabinet; it brings people together who wouldn't normally work together which is a beautiful thing. Grassroots activities can be work but they involve more members, which is critical.
Every solicitation should have a member that goes with it; direct mail isn't the way for a church to raise money. However, give everyone a chance to give so mail to associate and non-resident members. The out-of-state support we received was unexpected and generous.
Angst about the goal is always present but keep praying about and considering how to tackle it.
- What advice would you give an individual(s) who is considering leading a capital campaign? Define your role from the beginning. We were raising money; a Project Management Team ran the work going on with the renovations. Everyone understood their roles. Pull together a great team, groom your next generation of leadership, and let others do the behind-the-scenes stuff. Susan: And you need someone to help you stay enthusiastic…to let you know if you're lagging.
Have an exercise routine, a sense of humor, and an open heart and mind. A campaign is fluid; you’re trying to find the current as you go down the river….it’s a guided drift. Let God and the congregation take it where it goes. Have a part in it but remember it isn’t yours.
Be sure to say thank-you. After our Sanctuary was completed, we invited the workmen back in to see the finished space and show our gratitude for their work. We also had a thank-you event for all the campaign volunteers, and hosted the Saal contributors at a gratitude event.
*The Mickeys also shared words from an interview with Warren Buffett’s granddaughter in which she shared five things her grandmother taught her:
1. Show up.
2. Tell the truth.
3. Pay attention.
4. Do your best.
5. Don’t be too attached to the outcome.
They explained that if you do 1 through 4, then that’s all you can do; you can’t control everything.
- Any final thoughts? The thought of a capital campaign can be daunting, but the capacity is there. Focus on abundance, not scarcity.
To learn more about capital campaigns and how the Moravian Ministries Foundation can help, please call Chi-Chi Messick, Vice President, at 888.722.7923.