Campus Ministry Matters

Capital Campaigns and Campus Ministry


I recently began attending classes to fulfill a certificate program in Non Profit Organizational Management through the Indiana School of Philanthropy. The first of which, Managing the Capital Campaign, has renewed my thoughts about how we as campus ministers should be considering our role as Executive Directors.

For much of the last two decades, campus ministry’s principle reality has been decreasing funds and increased workloads. We might also argue that greater explanation and advocacy of our jobs has also become more prevalent, but everything seems to go hand in hand. In this era of funding cuts and great shifts in the field, I have heard few of my colleagues speak to large scale campaigns which can in many ways solidify the life of campus ministry for decades to come.

Working with a group of about 25 others from the non profit sector, including many from religious organizations like the Salvation Army and the Newman Centers, I engaged in a three day training that considered campaigns focused on brick and mortar additions as well as foundation building. The key to these seems to be relationships, which is not surprising.

When organizations begin to think ahead, the first thing they tend to do is panic, especially when they are already scrapping by for their annual funds. One might ask how in the world you could possibly raise money for the future or a big build (and or any build) when you are struggling to get by. The answer: cultivate your donors and find the most committed people. Then keep growing the list of committed people.

Campaigns it seems can be a very “sexy” way to give to the long sustainability of the ministry. There are thousands of people who are today thinking about what to do put bequests for who have long ago been benefits of campus ministry. The alumni base each of us has fostered over the years can be greatly influential to starting a campaign.

But why have a campaign if you don’t need a building or don’t intend to have a building. For me, it’s the building of a foundation. Over the next few years, the Wesley Foundation at the University of Minnesota may attempt to grow a permanent fund/ foundation up to a million dollars or more. If two million could be achieved, a typical and conservative interest draw each year would allow for 100,000 of guaranteed monies into the ministry on an annual basis. Not bad when considering how to keep a ministry running when the denominations have pulled out much of the funding.

Any kind of campaign is always going to involve risk, which is what the training taught one to overcome. The first step to reducing risk is to do a feasibility study to determine how much could actually be raised, then obtain the lead gifts first and create a funding pyramid. Any campaign should also spend it’s beginnings in what is known as a quiet phase, where the organization raises the first 60-70% of the gifts before publicly announcing the campaign and soliciting from the larger masses. All of these approaches seem to move toward a successful campaign, which is greatly important to the integrity of one’s organization.

Overall, it is not as simple as a few works on a blog entry, but capital campaigns could greatly change the way our surviving campus ministries prepare for the future. Not doing this could quickly spell the end to many of the remaining campus ministries, and likely has been a reason many have already closed down. If we can stabilize what we currently have working for us, we can return to our original goal of building up campus ministries and supporting students while in college. The freedom that could come from many of us having these funds is something to consider.



For more information on the Indiana School of Philanthropy, or to enjoy in classes, visit the website here…



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