Working on a Team for an Annual Budget Drive or Capital Campaign

by Larry Wheeler, Congregational Stewardship Services Consultant

Study the picture of the raft in big whitewater and think about the thoughts that go through your mind. Then click “read more” or read the rest of this blog post.

As an avid whitewater paddler – open canoes and raft guiding for more than 30 years, I was intrigued with Wayne Clark’s analogy of how our work feels like “permanent whitewater”.

Above is a picture of a paddle raft with a guide in the back and 6 paddlers going through and being consumed by the fast moving waves in Lava Falls, a Class 10 rapid (the highest on the rating scale) on the Colorado River as it goes through the Grand Canyon. I’ve been through that rapid on three different trips. The first time was in a raft just like this one and I was washed out of it part way through and got to “swim Lava”.

In that situation it was sure helpful to have a “guide” that had prepared us for the whole trip and specifically what Lava was going to be like. We scouted that rapid on land before running it. The big wave that hit our raft was not unexpected because we got too far right and when I went out I knew that I needed to hold onto my paddle – I’d need it later on, get on my back with feet downstream so my feet would hit rocks and not my head, think about where help existed – in this case that there were two other team rafts downstream on either side of the river. What didn’t immediately come to mind was the whereabouts of my own raft until I heard my name being called as they came right alongside me and with me extending the hand grip on my paddle to one of them, I was pulled back into the safety of the raft.

The thoughts that come to me as I compare this experience to the work of an Annual Budget Drive or Capital Campaign are these:

  • A “Guide” to help the team can be very useful – someone with experience that’s been there before , provide overall guidance, observe what’s going well and help in those areas where assistance is needed. Often, it’s the initial planning where the team can use the most help.
  • It’s a team of people that make a campaign work and you need to look out for each other, help those in trouble, and be comforted by the fact that you do not need to do this job by yourself.
  • Things are going to get hectic when a campaign hits full swing and not all parts will work the way you hoped they would. Stay calm and work together with the rest of the team to problem solve. You’d be surprised how collective minds can help pull it all off. In addition, lending a helping hand to a team member can be a great community building effort.
  • Often, careful planning about how to specifically navigate the “big whitewater” ahead will serve you very well – like getting ready for the Kick Off event(s).
  • And don’t forget when the campaign is complete the team needs to work together to ensure that all of the wrap-up pieces are handled, talk about what was learned from the experience that will help future efforts, and by all means CELEBRATE!
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