Book Review: Growing Givers' Hearts

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Here's my simple summary: if you are Christian who fundraises, this books is for you.  If you are working for an organization that regards fundraising as a necessary evil, you might need to buy more than one copy! I have been recommending this book on Christian fundraising for over a decade now.  Its message on Christian fundraising as ministry still rings true.  It's hard to underestimate how influential this book has been for me.  Really I could file this one under self-help: it helped me realize I was not crazy for wanting to connect fundraising and theology. I found it at a time when resources on the theology of fundraising were scarce.

An early set of my scribbly notes quotes page 10 "We believe that the central goal of a Christian fundraising program should be to help its donors' hearts grow bigger." Fundraising must connect to the spiritual values of the organization and to the faith of its supporters.  Does your organization believe in God's abundance, that God will provide enough resources to support your ministry?  How would your donors answer that question?  Jeavons and Basinger's chapter on "Confidence in God's Abundance" navigates the scarcity minefield many fundraisers tiptoe through.

I'm grateful to have found this book.  It's still out there on Amazon, enormous wisdom at a modest price.  A classic!

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

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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 speaking at The Pursuit, April 2016

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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 http://the-pursuit.ca/ explains all the details.