How Much Money to I Need to Raise For My Church Plant?
or Church Plant Fundraising Goal
One pre-requisite for planting a church is that you have the capacity to raise the required amount of money. Almost no one mentions this. Yet when I asked Hank Wilson from Reunion Christian Church the number one reason that guys in center-city Boston crashed and burned, without hesitation he said, "they didn't raise enough money." Ouch. When I ask guys what surprised them the most about church planting they consistently say, "the amount of fundraising you have to do." So there are two lessons here: one general and one specific.
The general lesson is that if you don't secretly enjoy the challenge of fundraising and the relationships that you can build in the process then consider carefully your church planting strategy. You might thrive in a campus/plant model, or a missional-community model, or a bi-vocational model, but you probably won't succeed in the old-fashioned launch-and-build model unless you like raising money. Or at a minimum you need to be able to do it well and have enough spiritual maturity to trust in God's provision when your own family or best-friends decline to support you.
The specific lesson is that your capacity to raise funds is a decent barometer of your readiness. The more people you know, who care for you, trust you, and believe in you, the easier it will be to raise funds. Rick Burge of LakePointe church suggests that you should have three healthy networks from which you can draw. I agree. I actually underestimated my capacity to raise funds by about 50%. But then, I also initially underestimated the amount I would need to raise by 50% or more.
Don't know what you have to raise? Ask guys who have made it in your target area what their total number was. They remember it well because they had to learn not to choke on it, apologize for it, or over-explain it when they told people what it was. If you cannot raise the required amount of money I would suggest working for another healthy ministry first, perhaps in your target area. Shoot, even three years of intense relationship building will unlock a lot of doors and give you a fresh perspective.
(For those of you who really need to know the number, I'm sorry but I just can't give it to you. You have to call successful church planters in your target area because the amount changes depending on the area and because you need to begin building those relationships now. That answer stinks, but there it is. So that I'm not being a total punk, I'll give you what I consider to be the range for traditional launch-and-build church planting: $250k - 1.25M. Exceptional situations may call for more or less.)