Funding Charity Head Office: Take a Sad Song and Make it Better


I'm applying wisdom from Beatles' lyrics to charity finances here.  Something new, after hearing a couple of sad songs about charities who were running deficits in their operating budgets. Let's start with an organization I'm intimately involved with - my family.  No matter what else is going on--university, saving for a big trip, fixing the roof--we put money aside each and every month to pay the bills.  You probably do too. Paying the electricity bill is not glamourous but everyone benefits from attention to that little detail.

Charities generally put some money aside from every gift they receive. In order to keep the lights on, they can't spend 100% of donations helping puppies.  Charities call this something unexciting like administration or overhead.  It's too bad they don't see head office as part of the mission because that can lead to a bigger mistake.

In an emergency or disaster situation, the charity might be tempted to send 100% of designated gifts to that disaster.  They figure it wouldn't be right for head office to benefit from the crisis.  This sounds short-sighted I know, but I've heard this same sad song more than once recently.

And it is a sad song because at year-end, the charity has an operating deficit.  They still bought stamps to send out thank-you letters to the emergency donors, still paid the auditor, the insurance and the electricity bill.  So, now they are in trouble.  Making an appeal for "overhead" is a tough sell.

Simple lesson here: don't sabotage your charity in an emergency (or anytime really.)  You can't spend 100% of donations on puppy food.  You will help more puppies in the long term if you are a thriving organization.  You want to have resources to screen and train volunteers, to host your website, and yes, to pay the electricity bill.

So, charity head office people, hear this: you are doing important work!  The charity simply wouldn't exist if people didn't raise funds, pay the bills and do all the other innumerable tasks behind the scenes.  Stagehands are part of the play and administrators are part of the charity. Value yourselves and your work.  Take a sad song, and make it better...

Lori's picks for The Pursuit, Day 1- April 27


The Pursuit, a Christian ministry conference in London, Ontario runs from April 27-29.  I'm conducting two workshops (see post Lori speaking at the Pursuit) among the many riches on offer!  has a great website but so much to take in!  I thought it might help people if I shared my picks.  Here's what I'm looking forward to on Day 1 - Wednesday April 27.  I've chosen fundraising and stewardship themes, with a focus on technology.  Many, many more choices available!

April 27 Morning

9:25 a.m. John Stackhouse speaking on diversity in Canada.  I remember John from his insightful writing in the Globe and Mail.

11 a.m. Canada Helps demo from the always enthusiastic Paul Nazareth.  Every church and charity should become familiar with Canada Helps - such a useful service! Gateway to online giving for many!

April 27 Afternoon

There's an abundance of good choices for learning sessions - fortunately, I can watch videos for sessions I can't attend. I'm looking forward to meeting these folks in person, so many of whom I'm already familiar with through social media and/or their books.

12 p.m. Website tips from Darrell Keezer from Candybox Marketing 37 ways your website died (1 min) Other great choices include charity regulation from a seasoned pro, Gil Langerak from the Canadian Council of Christian Charities.

1 p.m. Harry Whyte from Ray of Hope (Kitchener ON) will share how he rebranded and rebuilt Ray of Hope into a more resilent charity.Ray of Hope 2 min

2:20 p.m. Demos - mobile and web giving - definitely the way things are headed!

Silent Partner donor software.  It will be good to see how this software is being updated.

3 p.m. Human Cloning Time!  How can I choose between these?

Growing Givers' Hearts - Rebekah Basinger.  I have never met Rebekah but I feel like I know her because I have been so inspired by her book Growing Givers' Hearts. She really gets that fundraising is ministry. Growing Givers' Hearts 1 min

Rapid Fire Stewardship - Tim Jenkins, Scott Rodin and Lorne Jackson.  Should be lively! Rapid Fire Stewardship 2 min

Online Engagement & Building Community - by the wonderful folks from Tech Soup. Tech Soup Online Engagement

So that's Day 1.  I'll blog about the rest of the conference on Wednesday!





Lori speaking at The Pursuit, April 2016


I'm looking forward to conducting two workshops about church and money in April, at a conference called The Pursuit.

What's the Pursuit?

It's a new Christian ministry event, jointly hosted by three different groups and supported by many.  Canadians, Americans, and many denominations and types of ministry.  It's good to push the envelope!

Marcia Shetler from the Ecumenical Stewardship Center (an insider!) says an important part of the conference is how "faithful stewardship and generous giving" intersects with the church.   The list of speakers is impressive and stewardship component is part of a conference serving a larger constituency and offering other organizationally-related topics.  (many, many topics in fact - fortunately videos will be available to see the sessions you missed!)

I tried to think of what that would look like and came up with a Venn diagram (when people study Math and then theology, these things happen!)the pursuit

Video links for Lori's workshops

Here's the links to one minutes videos highlighting my two workshops (these will open in new tabs)

Best Practices for Giving in Churches

What (apostle) Paul taught me about Church and Money

How do I attend this conference?

The Pursuit website explains all the details.