Let's Guess Who's Generous


Let’s Guess Who’s Generous

A couple of weeks ago I volunteered at a fundraising auction to support an organization that works to prevent child abuse in our community.  You may have one of these in your community too – they are also known as “Relief Nurseries.”  This particular Relief Nursery has an excellent track record and 99% of the kids who take part in the program remain safely with their families and therefore avoid going into the foster care system.  This was no ordinary event.  Tickets for the dinner and event went for $200 each and it was as fancy a deal as our Birkenstock-loving, free-range chicken city has ever seen.  I was the “auctioneer’s assistant,” taking down the amount of the winning bids and recording the bidder numbers. 

About half-way through, Steve, the auctioneer, quieted people down and asked everyone to watch a three-minute video about a young mom who movingly explained how her life and her baby’s life had been saved because she participated in the Relief Nursery’s program.  It ended with the mom coming on stage and in two sentences thanking everyone for their support.

And then the amazing happened.  Steve asked people to “raise a paddle” and give – not to get anything – but to purely give to this incredible organization.  He started at $20,000.  $20,000?  Who in this town would give that?  Well, five people did.  $100,000 in the snap of a finger.  And in fifteen minutes $285,000 was raised.  I was floored.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think it was possible to raise so much so fast in this town.  It was hard not to be in tears just from the sheer generosity of the 415 people in that room. 

Yes, it was an expensive event to put on.  But expenses were covered by sponsorships.  And even after deducting expenses, this Relief Nursery raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to ensure at-risk infants and toddlers will grow up to be healthy adults.

So, what’s my point?  No, it’s not that you should go into the auction business – though having an occasional social event to raise money is not a bad idea. Fun and fundraising for a good cause can be a blessing. 

The two take aways from this are:

1.  Don’t prejudge who may or may not have money to give and
2.  Don’t prejudge what may touch someone’s heart in a special way.

You may not have the “big givers” in your church (but then again, how would you know?) but undoubtedly you do have people with generous spirits who want to meet the needs of your church and community.  Are you giving everyone ample opportunity and ways to respond to God’s whisper?

Cesie Delve Scheuermann is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing.   Over the past decade, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise nearly $2 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations.  She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012.  Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation.  You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com.

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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.