Often, because our donors are on the other side of a check or a bank draft—and many times we do not actually see them, it is hard to gain perspective on these friends of the ministry.
Yes, we see them at banquets, other events, in the store or when we present our vision at a church. But if we were to sit down and add up all of our donors, how many do we get to talk to, face-to-face, in the course of a year? What's the number for us? Is it 10%? 20%? As much as 25%? I don't have a formula in mind here; but this brings out the fact that our mind set is important.
Because it is harder to connect with those who support us financially, we must have a mindset that keeps these very important people at the forefront of our thought processes.
Here are a few thoughts to consider:
Many of us give gifts to our volunteers each year. Perhaps we have a volunteer appreciation event. We recognize our volunteers at our fundraising dinners. We recognize them in a special way on anniversaries (5 years, 10 years, etc.). This is all important to building a family culture among those who take the time to serve in our ministries.
And yet, almost all of our financial partners are doing something quite similar in order to support us. Those who are giving $50 per month may be volunteering two hours or more of their time (before taxes!) in order to give that gift. Some are sacrificing entertainment dollars for us. Others may be setting aside a night out with the family—for our ministry.
These too, in every sense of the word, are volunteers.
Does this mean we publicly recognize these people as volunteers? Not exactly. But it does mean that there can be a place for us to thank our financial supporters with the same heart in which we thank our volunteers. We will tackle the "Gift Question" on the following page, but for now let's keep in mind that seeing our donors as volunteers begins to shift our perspective.
We see volunteers as investing their talents in our ministry. So do financial supporters—just in a different way. The engineer, the construction worker, the doctor, the secretary, the teacher, the sales representative—all of these who are giving their funds are using their talents . . . For the betterment of our ministry.
In addition, we see volunteers as taking time out of their day to commit to our mission. The same dynamic takes place with our financial supporters. But what about the retired? And those on fixed incomes? These too, are volunteers. Their hard work over many years has paid off, and they are sharing the fruits of their past labors with us.
Volunteers then, aren't just in our offices. They are all over our community, working for us.
Click here for more of this month's TLC.
by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist
Raising funds is a challenge, certainly. Yet sometimes it is our perspective that creates its own challenges.
When funds are tight, it is easy for us to focus on what we don't have, and how to make our case known so we can get back to a financially-sound situation. It's natural for us, when things are tight, to be thinking of ways to try harder, to create new opportunities for gifts, etc.
The Apostle Paul was no stranger to tight situations, whether it be persecution, church turmoil, or finances. He also asked for gifts; making him—in our vernacular—a development director for the work of the fledgling church. If we don't believe this, all we have to do is read II Corinthians 8 and 9, two chapters where Paul lays out a plan for specific giving.
We can learn from Paul, primarily through his perspective. Read with me Philippians 4:16-17: "for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account."
Read that again. What does Paul actually want? "The profit which increases to your account." If we want a reason to look to Paul as our expert in fundraising, this is it. Paul is not interested in his own comfort, and while he knows his mission is to advance the power of the Gospel message, he sees another priority: Giving opportunity to build the faith and the resulting growth in the spiritual account of those who give.
If we are involved in development, these two verses should sit on our desk and be a focal point of our thinking, every single day. For if our perspective is to see our financial partners' "accounts" grow (instead of first focusing on our financial accounts), everything changes.
We will be:• More attuned to our donors' spiritual needs• More interested in seeing their spiritual growth through giving• More willing to listen to their desires for our ministries• Less worried about our ministry's financial situation• Less likely to give in to gimmicks in order to raise funds
Paul had it right, didn't he? That's why Phil. 4:16-17 is not simply a couple of nice verses to chat about during a workshop. It is instead a state of mind that zeroes in on the real reason for giving. Giving will fund our ministries, yes. But God is not simply interested in getting people to give to us so that our organization can do more.
No, God wants to build the faith and the spiritual "accounts" of those who love him. We are being used by God to bring this to fruition. This was Paul's perspective. It can be ours, too.
Click here for more of this month's TLC.
When we think of a Director of Development or a Director of Advancement, we often think of someone whose sole job it is to build the ministry's funding base.
There is truth in this, but let's add a caution which may blow our socks off: It's not about the money.
In a sense, it is about money and we may grade job performance partially on funds raised. And, we can make the point that adding this position should result in more funds raised. So partially at least, money is an issue.
But, the Director of Advancement is primarily a person who should be involved in creating relationships with those who give to the ministry. As an off-shoot of these relationships more funds may certainly come in; but at its foundation, the Director of Advancement is not . . . About the money.
For those ministries trying to make a case for this position, let's offer this: In most pregnancy help organizations there is a Director of Client Services, or perhaps a Center Director. This person may work closely with volunteers; setting up trainings, recruiting and building relationships with volunteers. She is often the go-to person for volunteers.
If we truly believe that our financial supporters volunteer for us, we now have a great reason to employ a Director of Advancement. We need someone who will not only work on our events, but who will make it a year-round endeavor to build relationships with all who support the ministry.
Usually, the CEO forms close relationships with those who give major gifts; but what about those who give $25 per month? $50 per month? How much time does the CEO have if the number of people giving monthly swells to 100, 200 or 500?
Let's keep in mind that those giving monthly today may be the very people who can fund a capital campaign tomorrow. By building these relationships now—and making these true relationships—asking these friends to help with major gifts tomorrow becomes much more natural, and easier.
But we need a person who has the time to make building these relationships a priority. That person is not the CEO, who is working with the board, personnel issues, making presentations and more (oh, and who should be building relationships with many donors already). No, we need someone else, whose job is solely to connect our friends to the ministry.
The primary job of our Director of Advancement is not money, not at all. It is relationships. When our Director of Advancement is actively building relationships in the community, that's building love and camaraderie. And yes, our funding will grow as well.
To gift or not to gift? That is the question we face with our donors.
Do we send a gift when a financial supporter reaches a certain "tier" in their giving? Do we offer gifts for an amount given? To get the answer, let's first define what a Gift actually is.
A gift is given freely, either as a way of saying "thank you" or simply because. There are no strings, no expectations.
This is where we get mixed up. When a ministry offers a free book for a gift of $100 or more, it is not a gift. Because there is a prerequisite involved (giving the ministry financial support of a certain value) this is no longer a gift but an incentive.
Let's stop here, because it is important to note that incentives are not bad or wrong. I remember giving a gift to a major ministry, and I raised my amount because I could receive a print of a painting in return for that gift. Instead of buying the print, I gave the gift. So this clarification is not to say that incentives are somehow unchristian.
But they are what they are: Incentives. This is a different discussion for another article, certainly. But a gift is freely given.
Answering a question with a question, "Do we give gifts to our friends? To our family members? To those who have helped us in some way?" I would think the answer is . . . Yes.
Our financial supporters should be our friends. We should always be in process of building relationships (friendships!) with them. It might naturally follow that gifts could be a part of this. Not in every case, but at times a well thought-out gift may be extremely appropriate.
Some supporters will eschew gifts ("Don't spend the ministry's money on a gift for me") so it may be important for the board to set up a separate fund, perhaps funded by ministry board and staff, for these gifts. When a donor, concerned that ministry funds be designated for clients, raises an objection, we can answer with, "You can be assured that we did not use ministry-designated funds for this; this is simply a gift, nothing more and nothing less."
A gift is welcome, when it is heartfelt. And a gift is quite different from an incentive, in that incentives are designed to draw in certain donations; gifts are designed to build donor relationships. We can invest in both; but must know the difference.
Each month, The LifeTrends Connection brings you a sample "Thank you note" to send to your supporters. October's letter is below:
Dear George and Laura,
The Apostle Paul, closing his letter to the Philippians, noted that while no other church assisted him with a financial gift, his friends in Philippi had.
Paul noted that they sent "a gift more than once for my needs," then makes an interesting statement: "Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account."
This is a statement we can "bank on," a reminder that all of our gifts bring profit to an account we cannot see our touch. It is an eternal account, one that will always grow.
Your gift brings profit to your account, and we are ever mindful of this. And yet, here on Earth, we are thankful because your gift is being invested in changing lives, and saving lives—another way your gift is bringing profit every day.
Thank you. We appreciate your investment in this work. Every day, we are seeing the fruits of your investment. And I believe one day, we will see even more.
The following is a commentary for the CEO or Director of Advancement to include in an E-Blast, Newsletter or other communication. Use as you wish—no credit is due to LifeTrends or Heartbeat International. This is for you to spark ideas, or use "as is."
In our communication with you we often mention new projects and the need for funding. This is nothing new; we can find this concept as far back as the Bible. In the Old Testament, God gave the charge to Solomon to build a temple (I Kings 5:1-6) and in the New Testament, Paul uses a large portion of II Corinthians (Chapters 8 & 9, for starters) to ask for funding.
What is most important in funding any project however, is not the need for funds. After all, God can fund any project He wishes, without our help. Yet, He chooses to use ordinary people to accomplish His purposes.
None other than Paul touches on what is most important, in Philippians 4:16-17: "for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account."
This is a perspective so often missed. Good-hearted organizations can get so caught up in a current need that the priority purpose for giving is to increase the spiritual account of those who give.
In God's economy (according to Paul, an expert!), we have accounts that grow as we give. How this works is not totally clear, but what we do know is something fruitful is taking place that we cannot see with our own eyes.
As we move forward in this mighty endeavor to turn our culture toward life—and to do our part here in (name of city, county or area)—we have financial needs, certainly.
Yet we never want to lose our perspective as we seek to raise the funds necessary to impart positive change. This perspective is a simple one; an understanding that when one gives, it is a spiritual transaction that builds faith and builds a relationship with God.
This concept mattered to Paul, and it matters to us. As we grow as a ministry, we want to always keep in mind that those who contribute grow as well. And we are all stronger because of that growth.
The Board of Directors plays a key role in fundraising; many of its decisions have a direct impact on the overall development plan—and on the amount of funds raised.
Here are two decisions a board must consider if it wants to build a strong financial foundation for the ministry.
Many boards are reticent to hire this person, wondering whether this position is needed or a good investment. If we are looking long-term, this person is a great investment.
A quick note: This person is not simply an events planner. If we utilize our Director of Advancement as only a banquet planner or to work on other events, we are missing the big picture. This person builds relationships with our donors; getting out of the office to spend time with them, get to know them and create long-term connections with the organization. A good Director of Advancement understands that our donors are actually volunteers who give their time at work (and the funds they earn) to our organization to save lives.
The ability to raise funds is not innate. It is part craft, part science. Unless a board is blessed to be full of those who are professionals in this area, batting fundraising ideas around at a board meeting takes a lot of time and rarely yields fruit.
Investing in those who can come in to the organization, assess its needs and assist in crafting a plan for development is a wise decision. My heart breaks for those organizations that try idea after idea, thinking fundraising is about finding the next gimmick or hot idea.
Fundraising is a ministry that connects God's people to God's work. There are gifted Christians who understand this principle and make it their life's work to assist ministries in fulfilling their missions by teaching ways to create these connections. A wise board seeks out the help of these leaders in stewardship practices, who can transform events, design capital campaigns, and show ministries how to implement effective, long-term development plans that are God-honoring, faith-building and effective in laying a strong financial foundation for the ministry.
A board that is committed to making these two decisions will, over time, oversee an organization that is always on an upward trajectory.
Preparing for her workshop on mergers and strategic partnerships at the 2013 Heartbeat International Annual Conference in Dallas, Texas, Vivan Koob was hoping her hard work would pay off in the encouragement and equipping of her fellow pregnancy help leaders.
When it came time for her to present, however, the room didn’t quite fill up as she’d hoped.
But that initial disappointment was long-gone by the time the calendar flipped to 2014, as Vivian’s pregnancy help organization, Elizabeth’s New Life Center in Dayton, Ohio, was in the process of reaping a bountiful harvest from the meagerly attended workshop.
As it turned out, the presentation Vivan was so busy preparing—and the fact that she presented it at Heartbeat’s conference—was the perfect fit for a strategic grant from the Dayton Foundation.
“It really was helpful to have given that talk at the conference,” Vivian said. “The grant itself is not a large grant, and it isn’t the first we’ve received from the Dayton Foundation, but it is going to go a long way to help us develop strategic alliances that will help us become less grant-reliant in the future.”
The grant covers the cost of a consultant whose role is to build strategic alliances with community entities, and promises to open the door to potential partnerships Elizabeth’s New Life Center may never have had the chance to approach otherwise.
Throughout the process, Vivan has also been invited by the Dayton Foundation to share her expertise on mergers with other nonprofits in the area, again setting the table for future partnerships that otherwise may not have been realized.
“This was an exciting grant for us to have received,” Vivian said. “Being able to say that we’d gone through three mergers and presented on the topic at Heartbeat’s conference really helped us to make our case.”
With two representatives from the development team at Elizabeth’s New Life Center slated to lead workshops at the 2014 Heartbeat International Annual Conference in Charleston, S.C., Vivian is hoping for the bountiful harvest to continue.
Hopefully, this year, the harvest won’t come at the cost of a sparse crowd.
Check out the workshops from the development team at Elizabeth’s New Life Center:
Panning for Gold in the Grant Funding Stream, Kima Jude
Development Bootcamp, Debbie Nieport LAS
Win: $68.00/Lose: $4,000.00 plus legal fees
From On the LeaderBoard | Volume 1, Issue 1
True Story: a non-profit organization, set up as a 501(c)(3), recently was fined $4,000.00 (it was negotiated down from $10,000.00) for receiving a donation in the amount of $68.00. The reason: the organization failed to register to solicit donations as a charitable organization in the pertinent state.
True Fact: Your organization MUST register to solicit donations in 39 of the 50 states as well as in Washington D.C. if your organization collects more than $25,000.01 in total gross receipts AND if anyone in your organization is compensated to conduct solicitations (even as only part of the job). Further, registration in the states in which you solicit must occur before solicitation actually occurs. The specific exemptions, exclusions, and requirements vary from state to state.
The explosion of the number of non-profits on the business and cultural landscape combined with the explosion of internet usage has created a regulatory and legal morass seemingly waiting to suck non-profits into the quagmire. The regulatory morass is best exemplified by the proliferation in recent years of charitable solicitation laws. Most state charitable solicitation laws are based on the “Model Act Concerning the Solicitation of Funds for Charitable Purposes” (Model Act). The laws are designed to keep charitable organizations honest with their donors and the IRS, as well as to prevent fraud. The down sides of the laws are that they are tedious, and if your pregnancy help center (PHC) or ministry solicits funds from more than one state, the laws can become burdensome.
The primary question raised is what exactly is a solicitation.
Solicitation, according to the Model Act, defined very broadly, includes any direct or indirect request, oral, written, or electronic, for money, credit, or thing of value for a charitable purpose or organization. A direct request is easy enough to understand. The PHC executive director asking anyone for a donation would be an example of a direct solicitation. A volunteer at the PHC who participates in a walk for life and asks Aunt Sally three states away to contribute $10.00 toward her goal would be more of an indirect solicitation. Or consider Uncle Fred who decides on December 30th that he needs a good tax break and donates to his favorite niece’s place of employment in the next state over. As soon as the PHC sends a thank you note and tax receipt with the ever-present “please consider another donation” in any of these scenarios, the PHC has made a request according to the Model Act’s definition.
The ultimate jurisdictional question is: has someone purposefully directed a charitable solicitation, “made an ask,” to a resident in our state? If the answer is “yes,” then the statute is triggered. Note that the answer to the question is not conditioned upon whether or not the ask is successful. That may or may not be considered by a state regulator. But overall, whether the charitable organization was successful or not in the ask is immaterial.
Thus, under a broad interpretation of most states’ charitable solicitation laws, a PHC fundraising newsletter sent out of state could be interpreted as a solicitation. Although there is not enough case law on this yet, it is possible for a far-reaching court to determine even that a “donate now” or “click here” button on a website (accessible by anyone in the nation) would be a direct appeal sufficient to trigger registration requirements.(There is some “give” -- no pun intended -- on the website appeal issue.)
What does this mean for your PHC? It means that there are very likely more states in which your PHC should be registered under the charitable solicitation laws than you might currently think. The good news is that most state regulators have more to do than they can handle exactly because of the dramatic growth in non-profit organizations. The bad news is that your PHC must still navigate these waters carefully because we face an active opposition.
True Recommendation: As a leader and board member, you have been entrusted with dollars which you must wisely and efficiently steward. The temptation can be to let such requirements overwhelm you to the point where it is easier to ignore the statute.
Resist the temptation.
Consult your local attorney to get advice regarding the registration requirements of the states from which you solicit or receive donations. Even though it may only be a $25.00 or $50.00 annual donation coming into your organization through a “donate now” button or an annual appeal letter, a fine of $4,000.00 or $10,000.00 plus related legal costs and staff time are a far heavier burden than the cost and bother of registering.
Note: The “Model Act Concerning the Solicitation of Funds for Charitable Purposes” was drafted in 1986 by The National Association of Attorneys General Committee on Trusts and Solicitations. It still remains the standard on which most states have modeled their individual state statutes.
Book by Kirk Walden
Review by Jor-El Godsey, Vice President
It’s all too easy to get so close to the trees that you miss the forest.
In our world, we can be so focused on the “trees”—day-to-day tasks needed to accomplish our mission—we miss the “forest” that our movement represents.
Kirk Walden, in his freshly printed book, The Wall: Building a Culture of Life in American and Ending Abortion as We Know It, shows us the big picture of how far we’ve come in the pregnancy help movement over our first 40-plus years. Kirk pictures pro-life Americans—specifically those in the pregnancy help movement—as the figurative wall of Nehemiah built to half its height (Nehemiah 4:6).
Moreover, Kirk challenges us all to remember there is half the wall—more of us doing what we do—yet to build!
The Wall is a short, but invigorating read. Kirk, a seasoned advocate for pregnancy help work, deftly weaves the biblical narrative together with a vision for victory!
Click here to read more.
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