Putting the "Camp" in Campaign

Last week we shared an interview with Rev. Kurt Liebenow of Christian Faith Moravian Church in DeForest, WI, in which he talked about the church's recent capital campaign and how it has strengthened their ministry. This week we are pleased to share our conversation with Gail Theard, Chair of Laurel Ridge's "Feed My Sheep" campaign, which raised almost $900,000 for rebuilding the Summer Camp Kitchen and paying down the debt owed on the Higgins Lodge expansion project.


What was the campaign goal and what was it for? $900,000 for reconstructing Laurel Ridge’s Summer Camp Kitchen and paying down the debt which resulted from the expansion of Higgins Lodge.

How did you become campaign chair? I had chaired Friends of Laurel Ridge and was serving as chair of the Laurel Ridge Board of Directors development committee so it was a natural progression. I was willing to chair the campaign as long as someone else stepped up to take on the development committee.

Did you have any initial concerns about serving as chair? I was worried I didn’t know as many people in the Southern Province or past supporters of Laurel Ridge. The time commitment was also a concern since it was largely on weekends. The goal was to speak at a different church every Sunday.

Did you do anything that was especially successful? The grassroots element of the campaign gave everyone of all ages opportunities to participate. Lots of people were willing to organize and help spread the word. We had a kick-off event at Salem College, a drive-in movie at King Moravian, a bowl-a-thon, an auction dinner at Friedberg, a golf tournament, a “flocking” campaign (individuals could pay to have a friend’s yard “flocked” with cardboard sheep), a church aluminum can drive, a phone-a-thon to camper parents, and the youth raised money at camp events and at the Canteen with a jar. We kept the wheels moving in the same direction but with tons of support and chances for different voices to speak on behalf of Feed My Sheep.

What were the challenges of the campaign? We had just had a campaign (Growing for a Lifetime) and were hitting people hard with the new annual fund. Picking the name was hard; I was glad that we landed on something based on scripture. We lost a Laurel Ridge board member during the campaign who was working really hard.

What was a memorable moment during Feed My Sheep? The dinner at Friedberg when people sponsored tables and decorated them (“Bring Your Memories Down the Mountain” was the theme). Also, the Kitchen Dedication Service in June of 2012. Getting to hear everyone’s love of Laurel Ridge and their camp stories….so many people met their spouse there, or heard their call to ministry there, or came out of a tough spot because of Laurel Ridge.

Did anything about the campaign surprise you? The number of people who gave more than once. Receiving so many generous unexpected gifts. Lots of churches had multiple events for the campaign. We got donations from special offerings, Sunday School classes, Men’s and Women’s Fellowships, and youth groups.

How did you communicate the campaign’s progress? We used the Provincial Ties, Laurel Ridge’s newsletter, website, and Facebook page, did multiple mailings, made a brochure, sent emails, and tried to have someone speak at every church in the Southern Province. We did things again and again so it was dynamic, not static. We shared photos of the kitchen construction/renovation so people could see their money at work and the different phases of the project.

How did chairing the campaign strengthen your relationships with fellow Laurel Ridge board members, your Moravian brothers and sisters, and God?

Everyone on the Laurel Ridge board made a financial commitment and was very supportive of all the events. Going to the churches and meeting people at the events helped me get to know them and love Laurel Ridge more by hearing their camp stories. I learned to trust God more; God made sure the campaign never kept me awake.

What advice would you give someone who is about to chair a capital campaign? Let passionate people use their gifts for the campaign. Even if it isn’t your style, let them help. You don’t have to manage everything. Acknowledge volunteers. Remember God is asking for the money, not people. It’s money for God’s work; you’re responding to the word of the Lord. Don’t lost sight of that and get caught up on the process or human element. You have to have a strong WHY. And people who want to be there. You can only affect change if you’re part of it. Always remember God asked you to serve and you said yes.