How You Can Become a “Fundraising Bright Spot”Before we get to the meat of this post, I want to offer prayers for the thousands of United Methodists who are gathered in Portland, OR for the next ten days for their once-every-four-years worldwide gathering. When the first order of General Conference business is “debating the rules about debating the rules” – you know the delegates are in for a fun time. But, and this cannot be stressed enough, there will be real and critical issues debated and discussed in the next few days. Let’s all pray that the UM tag line, “Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors” will apply to all of God’s people.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled blog post:
Some of you know that I think Kim Klein is the bomb. If you ever have a chance to see her – do not miss the opportunity. She is a hero in the social justice, non-profit fundraising world. Truth be told, if she wasn’t in the field, she could have a second career as a stand-up comedian. Lucky me, I had the chance recently to be with her in an all-day workshop.
One thing Kim spoke about was a new study she co-authored with Jeanne Bell, “Fundraising Bright Spots: Strategies and Inspiration from Social Change Organizations Raising Money from Individual Donors.”
The report highlights 16 social change organizations that are doing things right in their world of fundraising. While there is much to garner and to be inspired by from the entire report, Bell and Klein highlight four “bright spot” themes that these organizations share (for our purposes, I am substituting the word “stewardship” for “fundraising”):
1. Stewardship is core to the organization’s identity: For many of these organizations, “giving money is integral to being a part of a movement.” Money is not seen as a “necessary evil” – it’s what it takes to get the message out to move hearts and minds. They believe in the mission and know that it will take financial resources to make it a reality.
2. Stewardship is distributed broadly across staff, board, and volunteers: Raising funds is not left to just the pastor or the stewardship committee. It is seen as a shared responsibility by everyone. In the Bright Spot study, Development Directors (pastors?) “…are organizational leaders focused on skill building, culture change, and systems development to support others in fundraising.”
3. Stewardship succeeds because of authentic relationships. None of the Bright Spot organizations “approaches relationships with donors as transactional or only about money.” Especially important, “…the word ‘love’ came up more often than one might expect in a study of fundraising success. Donors loving the organizations. Staff loving their donors. Leaders who have worked together a long time loving the work they do together.” Exactly. This is how the church should be.
4. Stewardship is characterized by persistence, discipline, and intentionality. And here’s the one thing you need to learn from these Bright Spot organizations, “…a willingness to experiment and learn was pervasive, which also means that the team effort and the work involved is fun and interesting for everyone who is engaged in it.”
Stewardship should be a joyful endeavor!
Feel free to try new things!
Do it as a team!
Love your congregation!
Your mission matters!
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be [bright spots], bringing out the God-colors in the world” (Mat. 5:15). You (yes, you) are called to be a “bright spot.” Now go flood the world with those stewardship-laced God-colors.
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 over $2.5 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. For her upcoming visit to General Conference, she’s memorizing Robert’s Rules of Order…and The Book of Discipline. 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; she is available to consult with churches in Oregon and Idaho. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity.
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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.