Church Freed from Overwhelming Debt

St Paul Lutheran Church (MSL), Lakeland, FL

Shortly before the 2008 recession, St Paul Lutheran Church built a state of the art gymnasium for its school, ramping up its debt from $1.6 Million to $4.4 Million.  This was a debt ratio of four times its $1.1 Million annual giving.  Then came the recession.  School enrollment and income slipped.  The church was struggling to make its mortgage payments and was only able to afford interest payments on one of its two loans.  Members felt tired and defeated after a long series of capital campaigns, yet leaders knew that they had to have another capital campaign.  They hoped to raise $1 Million to keep the wolf from the door.   Jeff Newlin helped the church design a capital campaign that felt more like a revival than a fundraiser.   A VISIONfest was held the Sunday before Commitment Sunday with creative vision presentations, a delicious luncheon, and the news that leaders had already pledged over $1.5 Million to the campaign.  After that everyone wanted to jump on board. The church raised $2.1 Million, 1.79 times its annual giving.  When the 3-year campaign was over, Jeff Newlin helped the church raise another $1.6 Million, 1.65 times income, in a follow-up campaign.  With debt nearly eliminated, growing school enrollment, and election of a popular interim pastor as the church’s permanent pastor, St Paul’s Lutheran is now in overdrive toward the future.  (Spring 2012 & Spring 2015) 

Church Depleting its Endowment Rallies around a Capital Campaign

Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Dunedin, FL

The church’s sanctuary is an exquisite, carpenter gothic building overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, but it and other church buildings had fallen into disrepair.  Normally the vestry would have tapped the church’s endowment to cover the $850,000 projected costs, but the endowment was already funding half of the church’s annual budget, and it had dropped from $2.4 Million to $1.6 Million.  It didn’t take an MBA to see that the endowment, and perhaps the church itself, was headed toward extinction on the church’s current trajectory.  Although the congregation was undergoing a renaissance under the leadership of a new rector, the financial challenge before it seemed daunting.  The congregation had become too dependent upon its endowment and was unsure that it could raise the money it needed itself.  Faced with the challenge, the vestry decided to conduct a capital campaign.  Jeff Newlin led the congregation through a campaign based on God’s powerful vision for the church and rooted in prayer and sacrifice.  The church raised nearly $665,000 in three years, 3.83 times its annual income, enough to fund the bulk of the needed repairs.  More importantly, the congregation had discovered a new joy and confidence in giving.  No longer was it afraid of extinction.  Instead of being crippled by the generosity of previous generations, it was now being inspired by these previous generations to be generous in its own time.  (Spring 2013)

Capital Campaign Raises 15 Times Church’s Annual Giving

First Presbyterian Church (PC USA) of Hastings, MI

First Presbyterian Church of Hastings, MI was located in the center of a town of 7,000 people.  The building was historic, but cramped and antiquated.  The church needed more space to grow.  A member donated 33 acres outside of town and architectural drawings were drafted for a stunning, state of the art church campus.  But could a congregation with a $400,000 annual budget raise the $6.5 Million required?  Yes.  The congregation raised $6 Million in 3 years!  How?  Through lead donors with extraordinary resources and commitment, who were approached through Jeff Newlin’s standard lead donor approach.   One donor gave $2 Million.  Two donors gave $1 Million.  One donor gave $500,000.  That means that $4.5 Million was given by only 4 households.  The rank-and-file members gave $1.2 Million, three times their annual giving.  The final $300,000 was given by a handful of other lead gifts.  Very few churches can raise 15 times their annual income in three years, but every church has some households with relatively more money than the congregation’s average households.  These households can make an enormous difference in the amount of money raised, especially if they are approached in an effective way that is both visionary and spiritual.  (Fall 2007)