Displaying items by tag: development

Our work: What's love got to do with it?

by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist

Love1When we look at the ministry of development we are taught time and again that we are to see those who support us financially not simply as donors but as financial partners. This is true. We are in fact, to truly love those who choose to make our ministry or organization a financial priority in their lives.

This month then, let's ask a pertinent question that is bigger than capital campaigns, major donor development, or creating a perfect event.

In addition, let's consider a question larger than all of the words we use to describe development, such as "friend raising," and "building partnerships."

The question is a simple one for those of us in development: "What's love got to do with it?"

 

If we answer this question well, we will transform our fundraising initiatives. The reasons, just like the question above, are simple:

First, love is the key component to any strong relationship. Whether that relationship is a spouse, a good friend or a family member, love creates the foundation that takes a relationship through trials and struggles. And, love makes the good times even better.

Second, love shifts our focus away from "getting funds" and toward building an unshakeable foundation based on building these relationships. As we build relationships the funds will generally follow. And even if funds may not follow in some instances, we know our ministry is in the middle of God's will. Why?
Those development plans built on relationships are focused on eternal, not temporal, treasures. If we are always looking to the eternal, we never have to doubt whether we are in God's will. With that confidence, we will be less concerned when funding doesn't seem to be as strong.

So what does love have to do with our development plan? Everything. This month, let's consider what love looks like as we build relationships with those who support us.

Those on our support team are actually our volunteers, our heartbeat . . . And our brothers and sisters. Let's love them as we would ourselves.

 

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Viewing our donors as our family

Commentary with Kirk

Viewing our donors as our familyConnect1

Often, because our donors are on the other side of a check or a bank draft—and many times we do not actually see them, it is hard to gain perspective on these friends of the ministry.

Yes, we see them at banquets, other events, in the store or when we present our vision at a church. But if we were to sit down and add up all of our donors, how many do we get to talk to, face-to-face, in the course of a year? What's the number for us? Is it 10%? 20%? As much as 25%? I don't have a formula in mind here; but this brings out the fact that our mind set is important.

Because it is harder to connect with those who support us financially, we must have a mindset that keeps these very important people at the forefront of our thought processes.

Here are a few thoughts to consider:

Our financial supporters are volunteers for us, too

Many of us give gifts to our volunteers each year. Perhaps we have a volunteer appreciation event. We recognize our volunteers at our fundraising dinners. We recognize them in a special way on anniversaries (5 years, 10 years, etc.). This is all important to building a family culture among those who take the time to serve in our ministries.

And yet, almost all of our financial partners are doing something quite similar in order to support us. Those who are giving $50 per month may be volunteering two hours or more of their time (before taxes!) in order to give that gift. Some are sacrificing entertainment dollars for us. Others may be setting aside a night out with the family—for our ministry.

These too, in every sense of the word, are volunteers.

Does this mean we publicly recognize these people as volunteers? Not exactly. But it does mean that there can be a place for us to thank our financial supporters with the same heart in which we thank our volunteers. We will tackle the "Gift Question" on the following page, but for now let's keep in mind that seeing our donors as volunteers begins to shift our perspective.

We see volunteers as investing their talents in our ministry. So do financial supporters—just in a different way. The engineer, the construction worker, the doctor, the secretary, the teacher, the sales representative—all of these who are giving their funds are using their talents . . . For the betterment of our ministry.

In addition, we see volunteers as taking time out of their day to commit to our mission. The same dynamic takes place with our financial supporters. But what about the retired? And those on fixed incomes? These too, are volunteers. Their hard work over many years has paid off, and they are sharing the fruits of their past labors with us.

Volunteers then, aren't just in our offices. They are all over our community, working for us.

 Click here for more of this month's TLC.

Paul gives us a clear perspective (on raising funds!)

by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist

Paul1

Raising funds is a challenge, certainly. Yet sometimes it is our perspective that creates its own challenges.

When funds are tight, it is easy for us to focus on what we don't have, and how to make our case known so we can get back to a financially-sound situation. It's natural for us, when things are tight, to be thinking of ways to try harder, to create new opportunities for gifts, etc.

The Apostle Paul was no stranger to tight situations, whether it be persecution, church turmoil, or finances. He also asked for gifts; making him—in our vernacular—a development director for the work of the fledgling church. If we don't believe this, all we have to do is read II Corinthians 8 and 9, two chapters where Paul lays out a plan for specific giving.

We can learn from Paul, primarily through his perspective. Read with me Philippians 4:16-17: "for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account."

Read that again. What does Paul actually want? "The profit which increases to your account." If we want a reason to look to Paul as our expert in fundraising, this is it. Paul is not interested in his own comfort, and while he knows his mission is to advance the power of the Gospel message, he sees another priority: Giving opportunity to build the faith and the resulting growth in the spiritual account of those who give.

If we are involved in development, these two verses should sit on our desk and be a focal point of our thinking, every single day. For if our perspective is to see our financial partners' "accounts" grow (instead of first focusing on our financial accounts), everything changes.

We will be:
• More attuned to our donors' spiritual needs
• More interested in seeing their spiritual growth through giving
• More willing to listen to their desires for our ministries
• Less worried about our ministry's financial situation
• Less likely to give in to gimmicks in order to raise funds

Paul had it right, didn't he? That's why Phil. 4:16-17 is not simply a couple of nice verses to chat about during a workshop. It is instead a state of mind that zeroes in on the real reason for giving. Giving will fund our ministries, yes. But God is not simply interested in getting people to give to us so that our organization can do more.

No, God wants to build the faith and the spiritual "accounts" of those who love him. We are being used by God to bring this to fruition. This was Paul's perspective. It can be ours, too.

Click here for more of this month's TLC.

 

A Director of Advancement matters, a lot

by Kirk Walden, Advancement SpecialistadvancementDirector1


When we think of a Director of Development or a Director of Advancement, we often think of someone whose sole job it is to build the ministry's funding base.

There is truth in this, but let's add a caution which may blow our socks off: It's not about the money.

In a sense, it is about money and we may grade job performance partially on funds raised. And, we can make the point that adding this position should result in more funds raised. So partially at least, money is an issue.

But, the Director of Advancement is primarily a person who should be involved in creating relationships with those who give to the ministry. As an off-shoot of these relationships more funds may certainly come in; but at its foundation, the Director of Advancement is not . . . About the money.

For those ministries trying to make a case for this position, let's offer this: In most pregnancy help organizations there is a Director of Client Services, or perhaps a Center Director. This person may work closely with volunteers; setting up trainings, recruiting and building relationships with volunteers. She is often the go-to person for volunteers.

If we truly believe that our financial supporters volunteer for us, we now have a great reason to employ a Director of Advancement. We need someone who will not only work on our events, but who will make it a year-round endeavor to build relationships with all who support the ministry.

Usually, the CEO forms close relationships with those who give major gifts; but what about those who give $25 per month? $50 per month? How much time does the CEO have if the number of people giving monthly swells to 100, 200 or 500?

Let's keep in mind that those giving monthly today may be the very people who can fund a capital campaign tomorrow. By building these relationships now—and making these true relationships—asking these friends to help with major gifts tomorrow becomes much more natural, and easier.

But we need a person who has the time to make building these relationships a priority. That person is not the CEO, who is working with the board, personnel issues, making presentations and more (oh, and who should be building relationships with many donors already). No, we need someone else, whose job is solely to connect our friends to the ministry.

The primary job of our Director of Advancement is not money, not at all. It is relationships. When our Director of Advancement is actively building relationships in the community, that's building love and camaraderie. And yes, our funding will grow as well.

 Click here for more of this month's TLC.

Gifts or Incentives? The Conundrum with our Donors

 

To gift or not to gift? That is the question we face with our donors.

 

Do we send a gift when a financial supporter reaches a certain "tier" in their giving? Do we offer gifts for an amount given? To get the answer, let's first define what a Gift actually is.

The Gift

A gift is given freely, either as a way of saying "thank you" or simply because. There are no strings, no expectations.

An Incentive

This is where we get mixed up. When a ministry offers a free book for a gift of $100 or more, it is not a gift. Because there is a prerequisite involved (giving the ministry financial support of a certain value) this is no longer a gift but an incentive.

Let's stop here, because it is important to note that incentives are not bad or wrong. I remember giving a gift to a major ministry, and I raised my amount because I could receive a print of a painting in return for that gift. Instead of buying the print, I gave the gift. So this clarification is not to say that incentives are somehow unchristian.

But they are what they are: Incentives. This is a different discussion for another article, certainly. But a gift is freely given.

Should we give gifts?

Answering a question with a question, "Do we give gifts to our friends? To our family members? To those who have helped us in some way?" I would think the answer is . . . Yes.

Our financial supporters should be our friends. We should always be in process of building relationships (friendships!) with them. It might naturally follow that gifts could be a part of this. Not in every case, but at times a well thought-out gift may be extremely appropriate.

Some supporters will eschew gifts ("Don't spend the ministry's money on a gift for me") so it may be important for the board to set up a separate fund, perhaps funded by ministry board and staff, for these gifts. When a donor, concerned that ministry funds be designated for clients, raises an objection, we can answer with, "You can be assured that we did not use ministry-designated funds for this; this is simply a gift, nothing more and nothing less."

Quick take . . .

A gift is welcome, when it is heartfelt. And a gift is quite different from an incentive, in that incentives are designed to draw in certain donations; gifts are designed to build donor relationships. We can invest in both; but must know the difference.

Click here for more of this month's TLC.

 

Thank you letter - October 2014

Thank you letters keep you connected to your partners

Each month, The LifeTrends Connection brings you a sample "Thank you note" to send to your supporters. October's letter is below:

Dear George and Laura,

The Apostle Paul, closing his letter to the Philippians, noted that while no other church assisted him with a financial gift, his friends in Philippi had.

Paul noted that they sent "a gift more than once for my needs," then makes an interesting statement: "Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account."

This is a statement we can "bank on," a reminder that all of our gifts bring profit to an account we cannot see our touch. It is an eternal account, one that will always grow.

Your gift brings profit to your account, and we are ever mindful of this. And yet, here on Earth, we are thankful because your gift is being invested in changing lives, and saving lives—another way your gift is bringing profit every day.

Thank you. We appreciate your investment in this work. Every day, we are seeing the fruits of your investment. And I believe one day, we will see even more.

Sincerely,

 

CEO

 Click here for more of this month's TLC.

The REAL reason behind giving?

CEO Commentary

The REAL reason behind giving?

 

The following is a commentary for the CEO or Director of Advancement to include in an E-Blast, Newsletter or other communication. Use as you wish—no credit is due to LifeTrends or Heartbeat International. This is for you to spark ideas, or use "as is."

In our communication with you we often mention new projects and the need for funding. This is nothing new; we can find this concept as far back as the Bible. In the Old Testament, God gave the charge to Solomon to build a temple (I Kings 5:1-6) and in the New Testament, Paul uses a large portion of II Corinthians (Chapters 8 & 9, for starters) to ask for funding.

What is most important in funding any project however, is not the need for funds. After all, God can fund any project He wishes, without our help. Yet, He chooses to use ordinary people to accomplish His purposes.

None other than Paul touches on what is most important, in Philippians 4:16-17: "for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account."

This is a perspective so often missed. Good-hearted organizations can get so caught up in a current need that the priority purpose for giving is to increase the spiritual account of those who give.

In God's economy (according to Paul, an expert!), we have accounts that grow as we give. How this works is not totally clear, but what we do know is something fruitful is taking place that we cannot see with our own eyes.

As we move forward in this mighty endeavor to turn our culture toward life—and to do our part here in (name of city, county or area)—we have financial needs, certainly.

Yet we never want to lose our perspective as we seek to raise the funds necessary to impart positive change. This perspective is a simple one; an understanding that when one gives, it is a spiritual transaction that builds faith and builds a relationship with God.

This concept mattered to Paul, and it matters to us. As we grow as a ministry, we want to always keep in mind that those who contribute grow as well. And we are all stronger because of that growth.

Click here for more of this month's TLC.

Want to raise more funds?

Boards of Excellence: Want to raise more funds? 2 Decisions

by Kirk Walden, Advancement SpecialistDecisions1

The Board of Directors plays a key role in fundraising; many of its decisions have a direct impact on the overall development plan—and on the amount of funds raised.

Here are two decisions a board must consider if it wants to build a strong financial foundation for the ministry.

Director of Development (or Advancement)

Many boards are reticent to hire this person, wondering whether this position is needed or a good investment. If we are looking long-term, this person is a great investment.

A quick note: This person is not simply an events planner. If we utilize our Director of Advancement as only a banquet planner or to work on other events, we are missing the big picture. This person builds relationships with our donors; getting out of the office to spend time with them, get to know them and create long-term connections with the organization. A good Director of Advancement understands that our donors are actually volunteers who give their time at work (and the funds they earn) to our organization to save lives.

Looking to outside experts

The ability to raise funds is not innate. It is part craft, part science. Unless a board is blessed to be full of those who are professionals in this area, batting fundraising ideas around at a board meeting takes a lot of time and rarely yields fruit.

Investing in those who can come in to the organization, assess its needs and assist in crafting a plan for development is a wise decision. My heart breaks for those organizations that try idea after idea, thinking fundraising is about finding the next gimmick or hot idea.

Fundraising is a ministry that connects God's people to God's work. There are gifted Christians who understand this principle and make it their life's work to assist ministries in fulfilling their missions by teaching ways to create these connections. A wise board seeks out the help of these leaders in stewardship practices, who can transform events, design capital campaigns, and show ministries how to implement effective, long-term development plans that are God-honoring, faith-building and effective in laying a strong financial foundation for the ministry.

Two decisions

A board that is committed to making these two decisions will, over time, oversee an organization that is always on an upward trajectory.

Click here for more of this month's TLC.

The Grace of God's Faithfulness

grace 

Grace Chanda Swala was on the verge of giving up.

Having become executive director for Mansa Silent Voices in Zambia just a year ago, Grace and her family had laid the comfort of living in their own home on the altar, hoping to raise support for the fledgling center by renting out their home.

But by the time late July rolled around, and the Africa Cares for Life conference along with it, Grace was on the brink of losing heart.

Her heart burdened for the women and children in her community, and her spirit all but crushed under the weight of financial stress and worry, the five-day bus ride from Zambia to Durbin, South Africa, seemed like an eternity.

Would her center ever reach and rescue the women she passed by on the street every day? Could her ministry thrive under such tight constraints and seemingly insurmountable obstacles?

Would Grace and her family face financial ruin because of their selfless sacrifice on behalf of women and babies in Mansa?

Meanwhile, as Grace traveled the five days from Mansa to Durbin, grace was traveling halfway across the world to meet her, as Heartbeat International’s Director of Ministry Services Betty McDowell arrived for a full week of speaking and teaching at the conference.

Betty’s week started with a visit to Pregnancy Resource Centre, a maternity home in Durbin, and followed up with an in-depth day on fundraising all day Monday and into Tuesday morning.

While teaching two sessions on Heartbeat’s Sexual Integrity™ Program early in the week, Betty delivered two keynotes to the 80-plus person conference, which included representatives from three African nations.

“Vision came through as a major theme at this conference,” Betty said. “These friends face so many hardships we don’t here in the U.S., or even most parts in the west. It blew me away to hear from each organization about the problems they deal with: HIV, high crime rates, and even personal safety at risk on a day-to-day basis, and yet they keep at their work in spite of all these obstacles.”

“Africa Cares for Life did a superb job with this conference, and so much of the credit goes to Shanno Enoch, who was running her first conference as Executive Director,” Betty said. “That group is such an encouraging example of what true learners and servant-leaders look like.”

As the conference, “New Beginnings… Bountiful Harvest,” progressed, leaders like Grace were refreshed, encouraged and better equipped to hold fast to the Gospel of Life in spite of the daunting challenges they face every day.

For Grace, the conference truly proved to be a new beginning. As she boarded the bus back to Mansa, prepared for five days en route home, Grace reveled in the encouragement, instruction, and fellowship that had left her rejuvenated, and freshly ready to pursue her God-given call.

Grace also reflected on God’s faithfulness to provide a harvest. Even after a hard year of working the Zambian soil.


by Jay Hobbs, Communications Assistant

 

 

Are you alert and oriented x4?

2bdbdefby Betty McDowell, Heartbeat International Director of Ministry Services

As a social worker in the mental health field, I was trained to assess a patient’s level of alertness and orientation by asking them four questions: (1) Who are you? (2) Where are you? (3) What is the date and time? (4) What just happened to you?

This simple exercise helped determine the next steps in diagnosing the patient and constructing a treatment plan. But I have since discovered the value of asking the same four questions to those serving in ministry when I try to help them diagnose a problem and move forward in a clear direction.

How would you answer these four questions?

  1. Who are you?
    The simple answer Christians like to give is, "I am a child of God."  While this is true, it’s also true that we are uniquely created with specific gifts, talents and dreams. Living the abundant life Jesus promised requires us to further discover who we really are, and who we were created to be. Take time, through God's word, prayer and the counsel of others, to discover what you really believe about yourself, God and the world around you. Your decisions come from the core of who you are and what you believe — and that includes what you believe about yourself.

  2. Where are you?
    Is this the ministry, career and life that you are meant to be living? What are the dreams God has placed in your heart? Are you on your way to fulfilling those dreams and callings? Most of us lead busy lives and are trying to find ways to do the things we do faster, but it’s a healthy practice to slow down for a moment and make sure you’re where you belong.

  3. What time is it?
    There are seasons in our lives that require different commitments of our time and attention. For example, several years ago, through the leading of the Holy Spirit and conversations with my husband, we decided that it was best for our family if I focused most of my time, talent and attention on our children—even though it meant modifying my career ambitions. Then, once our children were in school, I devoted more time to ministry outside of the home, and to my career. Now that our children are grown, the time has come for me to engage more fully in the calling on my life, and I’m now able to chase the dreams of my heart. What is the time and season of your life?

  4. What just happened?
    Are you walking around in a haze—or a daze—and unaware of the world around you? What are you witnessing in the lives of those around you?  What are others witnessing in your life? Sometimes, we are so caught up with our goals and to-do lists that we miss opportunities to fully connect with God and the people we love most. 

I have found that spending a little time at the end of each day to review my answers to these four questions has been a great habit. You too may find this practice valuable in becoming alert and oriented x4.

Also check out the link to "The Daily Examen" by St. Ignatius:
http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-examen/how-can-i-pray/

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