1. Develop a Strong Strategic Plan

Organizations do not plan to fail; they just sometimes fail to plan. Strategic planning is a process every organization must do well to compete in the ministry marketplace. John Stott said, “Vision begins with a holy discontent with the way things are.” Strategic planning should clearly identify those areas of discontent. Your capital campaign should flow from your desire to solve these problems and create a new preferred future for your ministry and those you serve.

Strategic planning is a military term. It has to do with battle plans. With 1,500,000 not-for-profit agencies seeking their position in the marketplace, strategic planning will help you position your organization to clearly share your story and plan a great capital campaign. It will allow you to identify your uniqueness and your “sweet spot.” It will help you keep your message clear, concise, and visionary. Begin planning with mission, vision, core values, and desired key results. Here is an outline to create or tweak your ministry’s strategic planning process.

An honest SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis should be a major part of your strategic and campaign planning process. What are your organizational strengths? What are those core competencies that define your organization?

Next identify your organizational weaknesses. What could you and should you be doing better? For every organizational strength you identify, there is often an organizational weakness on the other side of the coin. Your greatest strength may also be your greatest weakness.

Continue the SWOT analysis by clearly identifying your organizational opportunities. What’s on your ministry horizon that you should be doing? Here are excellent questions for you to ponder as you begin to think and plan strategically to get ready for a capital campaign:

•  If we went out of business tomorrow, would we really be missed?

•  What segment of society would not be served or impacted or would be underserved if we ceased to exist?

•  Do we really need to act upon the opportunity now and is it a part of our strategic ministry plan?

Ask yourselves what could become a threat to these very great “organizational opportunities.” A financial threat? A staffing threat? A leadership threat? A donor threat? What can potentially derail, delay, or prevent your moving forward with funding your strategic plan with a successful capital campaign? You can minimize your threats if you carefully and prayerfully plan your work, then work your plan.

Here are some additional questions that could emerge in the strategic planning process.

1.  What is needed and feasible in our service area?

2.  What are we capable of doing well (core competencies)?

3.  How will we do what we intend to do better?

4.  Are our mission and vision clear to all our audiences?

5.  What will we be doing five years from now?

6.  What might we not be doing five years from now?

7.  Do we want to grow? If so, how large, and why?

8.  How will we accommodate our plans for growth?

9.  If God answered one prayer about our organization’s future, what would that one prayer and its answer be?

These questions are by no means exhaustive, but they will help you establish benchmarks for planning your capital campaign. The quality of your strategic planning will impact the success of your campaign, so get busy planning!


About the Author: Pat McLaughlin

President/Founder – Pat started The Timothy Group in 1990 to serve Christian ministries as they raise money to advance their missions. TTG has assisted more 1,800 Christian organizations around the world with capital, annual, and endowment campaigns. More than 25,000 of Pat’s books, Major Donor Game Plan, The C Factor: The Common Cure for your Capital Campaign Conundrums, and Haggai & Friends have helped fundraisers understand the art and science of major donor engagement. Pat makes more than one hundred major donor visits annually and provides counsel to multiple capital campaigns.

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