“Fearless Fundraising” is a series on church fundraising by Charles LaFond, an Episcopal Priest, author and master potter living on a farm in New Mexico. Charles is the author of many books including Fearless Church Fundraising and now, Fearless Major Gifts: Inspiring Meaning-making. For more information, videos and model documents go to fearlesschurchfundraising.com.
What I notice about a walk in the woods is that it happens one step at a time. A walk, is, by its very nature, a series of measurable objectives. Discussing a walk is not a walk. Meaning to take a walk is not a walk. Placing the walk on a to-do list is not a walk. A walk is opening the door, and taking one step at a time. If anyone asks me at my deathbed what my favorite parts of life were, the mentionable things on that list would be Dim Sum brunches and walks with Kai-the-dog.
“Major gifts” work in a church’s fundraising program is like taking a walk. Jesus did only some of the things our clergy do with their week, but one thing Jesus did do was take long walks. Luke says he also received major gifts from the women who followed him; I expect he asked for them. It’s usually how that works. Did then. Does now. He took one step after another.
Major gifts programming in church or non-profit work is as easy as taking a walk because it is as easy as a set of steps – measurable objectives. How many steps did you take to get from point A to point B? Do you get to a location on a walk without the steps? No, not unless you can levitate and fly. Similarly, asking for a major gift for your church or non-profit is as easy as simply joining a few people with high capacity and high interest in what you are funding – and from time to time, joining them for a stroll. I realize that asking for major gifts seems terrifying, but it is not. It is beautiful and it is midwifery.
One way I have found to get this work done is this; create a document on your desktop in Excel. Then in the first column title it “date” and in the second column title it “action,” in the third, title it “leader” (your name or that of others helping in major gifts work) and in the fourth column title it “next action” and the fifth title the column “ask amount” (The dollar amount of the next request) and finally make a column for “notes.” You can track the individual tasks, who is doing them and how many are accomplished as a way to measure what work you are doing to raise major gifts.
This list of steps you are taking, generally sorted by date of action, name or ask amount, will show you what progress has been made in a week or a month or a year towards your top major donors (usually 20% of your congregation or mailing list).
This can also be a helpful tracking tool for those engaged in the fundraising effort and as a helpful tool in explaining progress towards goal for the vestry or non-profit board.
What gets measured gets done.