Inspiring Generosity


Joy and Surprise in a Capital Campaign

  Jump for joy (surprise!) Bruce Galpin on Upsplash

“Up from the grave He aroooooose! With a mighty triumph o’er His fooooes!”
We didn’t sing this GEHOAT (Greatest Easter Hymn of All Time) on Sunday but it still popped into my head. It definitely must have been a #1 chart topper back in the day. “He arose! He arose! Hallelujah, Christ arose!” Happy Easter!
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the joy and surprise that comes from fundraising. I passed along two personal stories that I recall when I need to ask someone to contribute to a great cause. I asked you to send along your examples as well.

Today, I’m sharing a longer illustration from my friend and fellow development colleague, Susan Howlett. I’ve learned so much from Susan over the years and I truly appreciate her wisdom. Here’s her story from her Seattle congregation’s capital campaign:
“During our recent $17,000,000 capital campaign at my church, I was assigned to raise money from everyone else in the congregation after the major gifts prospects had been approached.

On top of the regular contributors, that group included people who –  

  • had never given
  • hadn’t given for several years
  • had left unhappily
  • weren’t supportive of the capital campaign
  • usually gave very low-dollar gifts or
  • were financially strapped – even on public assistance.  

 I decided to include everyone in the conversation over the several months of my effort.

- We invited them to Town Halls with the architect and ministers to ask questions about the campaign, including “what do our 7 principles look like in a building?” 
- We invited them to tell their own stories of transformation during a Story Corps-type project. 
- We invited them to create Tibetan prayer flags with an image of their relationship to the church on them, and
- We invited them to be part of an art project that would go with us to our temporary space and come back into our sanctuary when we returned home. 

Most importantly, we invited them to participate in listening circles where people got to tell whatever stories they wanted to about the relationship with the congregation and share what their dreams were for the future of the church.  
We ended up getting very generous gifts from the most negative and noisy individuals in our midst, including the people who had told us they didn’t think we should be spending money on the church when there were so many other social justice issues that needed our support. It was gratifying to me to see that when people felt included in the process and were assured that their voices would be heard, they ended up choosing to be more generous than they had ever imagined. 
Creating a sense of ownership is the answer!”

How awesome is that? Don't decide ahead of time who will and won't give. Allow people the chance to have a voice, to be heard, and (surprise!) they feel a sense of ownership and want to be a part of making the world a better place.
Thank you, Susan for taking the time to share this inspiring story.
Next week, you’ll hear from two clergy people who found joy and surprise in the generosity of others…when they didn’t even expect it. Stay tuned.
These stories bring me such joy and I hope you find them inspiring too. When your priorities are straight and your purpose is clear, asking becomes much easier. I’m feeling so good that I think I’ll go now and sing that GEHOAT one more time. I suggest that you find your own GEHOAT and sing it with all you’ve got, too.

Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “C Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. For nearly 25 years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. Can you handle one more version of her GEHOAT? Try this one from India. Cesie is available to consult with churches. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity or at CesieScheuermann.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.