There’s an old cliché that Silence is Golden.  When my kids were young and I was a stay at home mom I would have followed that cliché with a resounding Amen!  But as a giver I feel a little differently.

When I give it’s because I want to be a part of something – something bigger than myself.  The reality is that I am not Rockefeller or Gates when it comes to the dollars I give. . . but my heart doesn’t know the difference.  The dollars, limited as they may be, are expressions of my heart. I want to be a part of something. I want to make a difference. It is a journey that I am slowly growing in but I admit that I wonder if the organizations that I give to understand or care about that journey.

Being part of the Servant Foundation I get to be part of some pretty major gifts and as a Foundation representative I receive many notes of appreciation and encouragement.  But the personal giving side looks much different. A note of thanks is a rarity.  Sometimes there is literally no communication – form letter, receipt or otherwise.  In this case, Silence is Deafening. Without communication I assume my giving doesn’t matter.

Earlier this week the silence ended. I received a hand-written, personal note from a ministry leader that made my heart leap for joy. The interesting thing is that this ministry is one I haven’t given to in several years.  The note was a reflection of what our personal support (not just the giving but the words of encouragement, etc) meant to this leader.  It served as a reminder that maybe the little guy can make a difference.  The note caused me to revisit the ministry and re-engage my commitment to the cause.  Guess who’s on the top of my giving list this year?

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Giving Gone Wrong

For someone who is a huge proponent of giving and actually even makes a living based on it – it probably seems a little weird that I would be writing about ‘giving gone wrong.’

We all have those ‘Golden Rules’ that we operate from. I’m not talking about the 10 Commandments – those are a given. But those personal rules we set in place for ourselves to make sure we don’t make a fool of ourselves.  It’s funny when we break those rules it reminds us why we have those rules to begin with.

One of my Giving Golden Rules is not to give to desperation or in isolation.

As someone who meets with a lot of ministries, I’ve learned that I have to set boundaries. When I feel personally drawn to a ministry from a giving standpoint – I take the information home and share with my family. From there we pray over it and decide as a family if and/or how much we want to give from our family Giving Fund.

Earlier this year I broke that Golden Rule. I met with a ministry leader who shared the drastic desperation their ministry was in. Literally they were looking at not making payroll that week. After the meeting I went straight to my desk, logged in to our family Giving Fund and requested a grant be sent to the ministry.

As I reflect on it now I realize my motives were not what they should have been. I was in ‘hero mode’.  I wanted to be the hero of the story the one who ‘saved the day’ with my gift. I didn’t pray about it. I didn’t share it with my family.  I didn’t give because I greatly cared about the cause.

I don’t even know if my giving made a difference. I have not heard one word from the ministry. I am reminded that giving is not designed to make me the hero of the story but an opportunity for God to engage my heart in a cause. He wants my giving to be about my transformation, my spiritual growth and my dependency in Him.

Sometimes They Want Their Money Back

An ESPN article shares the story of a major benefactor to the University of Connecticut who wants the school to return $3 million in donations and remove his family name from its football complex.  The donor is upset that he was shut out of discussions about the selection of a new football coach.

I don’t know the full ins and outs of the story and relationships in this particular case but as I read the article I wondered if there is a lesson here for how we approach donor relations in Christian ministry.

The scenario the donor and university are facing in this story appears to reflect a more transactional relationship. I give this – you do that – scenario. The challenge now is the donor feels short-changed and demands a refund.

It begs the question, “Are we about transactions or transformation when it comes to givers?”  Transactional versus transformational represents a major mindset adjustment when it comes to fundraising.

Transformational giving focuses on the transformation of the giver as well as the transformation in the ministry.  God’s design for giving is such that we grow stronger in our dependence on Him. When we embrace and live out Biblical stewardship we become a greater reflection of Christ.

Want more on Transformational Giving?

Better Together?

The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently published an article, A Grant Maker Requires Grantees to Collaborate, that indicates a trend of how funders are thinking.  The article shares how the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona has made big changes in its grant making in response to the recession. The fund now only grants to coalitions of groups that work together to solve important community problems, not individual organizations.

The grant maker sees several benefits in this new paradigm of grantmaking:

1)   the collaborating groups can make sure they are not duplicating programs;

2)   the groups can close the gaps in the services they offer;

3)   collaboration allows each group to focus on its area of expertise

For these reasons, the grant maker believes that collaboration leads to better quality services. A spokesperson for the Tuscon community fund argues that “no one agency can meet any one person’s needs – and probably shouldn’t, when you start being everything to everybody, oftentimes you water down the quality of what you are providing.”

While this is a new idea from a grant making position the idea itself goes back much further.  ICorinthians 12 reminds us that we all have a unique purpose but the real power comes when together we become the Body of Christ.

What is Your Why?

Why? As a parent that question can sometimes set us over the edge when it comes out of the mouth of babes in response to a direct order.  But what about the ‘Why’ question related to our ministry?  Why do we do what we do? Do we connect with people on the ‘why‘ or do we inundate them with the ‘what and how’ we do what we do.

The following TED video presentation of Simon Sinek offers a compelling look at the ‘Why’. I hope it will be as inspiring to you as it was to me.

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Can We Multiply Donations?

A recent blog, You Say You Want Impact, posted in the Harvard Business Review challenges the typical approach to grantmaking. The article highlights the reality that funders want to see and be about impact. We want to fund progress. But are we going about it the right way?

Ministries know the hardest thing to get funding for is general operations, and the idea of getting funding for fundraising is almost laughable.  Supporters want to give to programs and projects – successful programs and projects. But what if the logic behind funding impact changed?

The article states, “The way to maximize impact is to fund a revenue engine that can multiply the dollars you are contributing — it is to fund the fundraising and development arm of the charity in question, not the actual program that’s making a difference. In making fundraising more robust, you create a multiplier effect: Your donation has the potential to dramatically increase the amount of money flowing in to fund the program. If you fund the program itself, your donation will have zero multiplier effect.”

The logic is simple – brilliant, yet simple.  Don’t give fish – develop the fishermen. Sound familiar?

This is one reason I am excited about bringing Mission Increase to Kansas City. The Mission Increase model is based on such logic. It’s about growing in the skill of fundraising that brings the biggest bang for the buck.  Want more? Join us February 10, 2011.

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Blizzard of 2011 = More Time to Register

It’s all about perspective, right?  The Blizzard of 2011 has created many challenges to say the least. If I look at through the ‘glass half full’ however, I see that the Blizzard has opened the door to expand our timeline for the launch of Mission Increase in Kansas City. Which means more people may be able to attend the seminar!

The inclement weather led to the postponement of the February 3rd Journey to Transformation seminar. We determined we would not be able to get our keynote speaker in town safely and have rescheduled the seminar for Thursday, Feburary 10th.  If you have not registered already I encourage you to take advantage of this second chance to regsiter!  If you registered for the 3rd event your registration has automatically been transferred to the 10th event.

Event Details:
Do You Feel Like You’re Working Harder and Harder to Raise Fewer and Fewer Funds? You are not alone!

If you find yourself dreading the mere thought of fundraising then this seminar is for you. The Journey to Transformation seminar presents a Biblical model of fundraising that has the power to grow your ministry and your donors. Come and learn about this alternative approach that will help you move from the mindset of fundraising as a necessary evil to viewing fundraising as a joyful calling.

The Journey to Transformation
Thursday, February 10, 2011
9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Sylvester Powell, Jr. Community Center
6200 Martway, Mission, Kansas

Cost $30/person
Lunch, break refreshments and seminar materials will be provided

Register for the February 10th Seminar

Keep in mind that this is more than just a one-day seminar – this is a launch to Servant’s new strategic relationship with Mission Increase and our continued commitment to serving ministries. Learn more at blog post:  New Year, New Training and Grant Opportunities

Can’t wait to see you there!

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