Fearless Church Fundraising

Fearless Church Fundraising

by Charles LaFond


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780819228635
Publisher: Church Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date: 02/15/2013
Pages: 216
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

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The Spiritual and Practical Approach to Stewardship

By Charles LaFond

Church Publishing Incorporated

Copyright © 2012 Charles D. LaFond
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8192-2863-5


The Joy of Giving: Growing Spiritual Gifts through Fundraising

Stop Battling and Start Abiding

All my life I battled being overweight, until one day I stopped dieting and began simply to change my relationship to food. The resistance to dieting was indeed giving energy to the cravings and the binges. One day I began to consider that food is wonderful and the body is a machine that needs some food and wants other food, and all those wants and cravings are based in the chemistry and biology of survival.

I finally stopped going on diets and counting calories—once the boney finger in my heart was replaced by a loving, open hand to life. Then, and only then, did my eating habits change and my weight stabilize.

I think the same can be true about our relationship with money. We can stop scolding ourselves and live peacefully and even joyfully with the bounty God has allowed us to enjoy. We can be intentional, make choices out of love rather than fear, imagine a way of life that creates more room for God and sets us on a path with Jesus. We can, in Jesus' words, begin to abide.

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. (John 15:9–11)

When Jesus meets his disciples on the road and calls them to follow, the conversation is also about abiding. When they ask him, "Where are you staying?" they are not seeking an address. They do not want to know where he lives but how he lives. They want to know about abiding.

To simply live requires rather little attention. We get up, we wash, we eat, we defecate and urinate, we work, we rest. In fact I know plenty of people who are living. And living is okay. And there are times when surviving is all we can manage—abiding has to wait.

But as a way of life, abiding is very different. To abide is the art of living rather than the function of living. To abide, to live well and beautifully, takes attention to the ingredients of life. To abide takes special and regular attention to details like love, prayer, work, other people, giving time, giving talent and giving money away, receiving from others' generosity, giving and receiving kind words, walks in the woods, worship, vegetables, fruit, water, intimacy, friendship, fidelity and lots and lots of truth.

And where does generosity enter this recipe? Since we follow a Savior who gave himself away on the cross, giving what we have away to each other is essential. It is to the recipe of the Christian life, as flour is to the recipe of bread. Giving our selves away is the primary ingredient to abiding. I give an hour to God in meditation, another hour to my heart and mind in thought and a third hour to my body in exercise. The other twenty-one hours of each day grows out of my Rule of Life and in them I abide. When I first started out, I gave each five minutes. It's a process.

To abide is to live in God's bounty, to see God's bounty and to share God's bounty with a tired, hungry, cranky and hardened world. And the more we give away, the more clearly we will see all that God has given us and wants to give to us still. Our relationship to money and things changes, and we are free and blessed to finally abide.

Becoming Sméagol

Most of us, with some saintly exceptions, find pledging money to God, through the church, hard to do. I want to hold it back, let others pull my weight, rest on dead people's gifts to the endowment.

That is my inner-Gollum talking. Do you remember J. R. R. Tolkien's gnarled character in The Lord of the Rings? He had a split personality; "Sméagol" still vaguely remembered things like friendship and love, while "Gollum" was a slave to the Ring who knew only treachery, scarcity and violence.

One summer day I took a friend on a tour of my farm. She ooo'd and ahhh'd over a summer squash, and though my impulse was to pick it for her to take home, something inside me sputtered, crackled, chilled, hissed and withdrew. "I had a poor crop," a voice in my head said. "It is my preeeecious," Gollum might have said. That squash was the only one I could see. So I smiled, rather too sweetly, and we moved on.

The next day I was playing with my dog Kai and his ball went into the garden. Searching for it among the squash plants, I lifted leaves and found six huge gourds, more than I could possibly eat. It turns out that I could have shared with my friend. I chose not to do so.

Our pledge is not about giving to the church. Our pledge is about being who we were designed to be, trusting that we will have enough and giving some away. To practice giving is to practice letting go. Since we will all one day die, this practice is essential for human wellness.

When I give, I am leaning into the Sméagol part of my nature and away from Gollum. I am giving because I was designed in the image of a God who is creator, lover and giver. We give to God's mission through the church because we are seeking to live as redeemed and divine creatures, to reclaim the Garden of Eden, one square foot at a time. When I think, "I can't afford to give! I might need the money!," I go back to the work of Byron Katie whose methods of inquiry have changed my life and brought me to a renewed relationship with my thoughts and with truth.

A Reconciling Ministry

Honest conversation about money can spur freedom and reconciliation: in ourselves, between us and our neighbors, between us and God.

I once had a housemate who was out of a job. I invited him to live in my guest-room and have the run of the house until he got back on his feet. My mortgage was $1,000 per month and I asked him to pay $150 per month (or 15 percent). He was grateful for the break and promised that, as soon as he had a job again, he would increase his share.

He paid his rent. He and his girlfriend would often have dinner with me, and we stayed up late laughing and talking about life. Our friendship deepened thanks to all the time and attention we gave to it.

A few months later, he found a job and bought new clothes and a new car with his new financial freedom. He never suggested that his rent go up, nor did I. In fact he paid half one month, saying that he would make it up the next month.

The next month he forgot to pay the rent at all. He never again paid the full rent of $150, even though his income was higher than mine. Eventually he moved to a new home he bought across town.

Over the months before his move, as he stopped paying his full share, he tended to avoid me. He and his girlfriend never stayed for dinner and he was usually gone when I came home and slept in long after I left for the office. Our friendship began to atrophy and die from malnutrition.

Years later he and I bumped into each other at a church conference. I suggested we meet for a beer. The conversation started out stiff and awkward until I said, "You know, I must have done or said something that offended you, because our friendship seemed to die before you moved out."

His eyes welled up and he said, "No, you did not do or say anything. It was me. I was so excited about my new job and was so busy dressing up to look the part that I had no money left over for the rent. The more I failed to pay the rent— which I knew to be only a fraction of what I should be paying—the more awkward I felt around you. I started to avoid you out of embarrassment. I saved a few bucks, but I destroyed our friendship."

I confessed that the gesture of using the house and not paying the rent made me feel a bit used. But the money was never really the issue for me; what I missed was the friendship. He apologized, I accepted his apology and now we are close friends. We laugh a lot these days.

No analogy about God is perfect, but this parable is the most apt description I can offer for what I see in our church and in our culture around stewardship. When I receive the bounty of this life—family, talent, land, money, safety, health, energy, food—as a result of God's creativity and generosity, and I give nothing back to God through the church, I begin to do what my housemate did. I begin to pull back from God, knowing that I am not keeping my part of a deal, a deal that is heavily weighted in my favor. I live a lie and my thoughts use shame to harm my heart. Shame says "I am a bad person." Indeed I am not. But healthy guilt says "I did a bad thing." Which is the start to living out our conversion. This book helps people out of financial shame, birthing guilt (mindfulness) into pledging and giving.

I can never truly repay the gift, but I can make a symbolic offering. It represents my understanding that what I have did not come from me but was a gift from God. No matter how hard I work for my salary, all of life is a gift from God. My pledge is simply a sign that I honor that relationship and reality and that I want it to flourish.

Free to Live and Give

My black lab, Kai, and I—like most families, I suppose—have a morning routine.

We get up around 5:00 a.m., and while I shower Kai goes off into the pasture to do what dogs do in pastures. Then I make coffee and get the fire going again. Kai sits in the kitchen by his bowl silently staring at me. When breakfast comes, Kai eats it. "Slurp, slurp, munch, munch ..." His huge pink tongue licks his face. "Sigh."

I wish I could be as Kai is when he receives his food. He sits there, very peacefully, gently waiting for breakfast but never asking for it. He just waits there by his bowl. If I change the routine, he just waits longer but never objects. Never leaves that spot. Never makes a sound. And whatever I give him he eats happily. And when he is done, he bounds over to me after his sigh to rub his face on my leg in thanks.

I wish I could be that way with God. I wish I could just accept what I receive without worrying about getting more or having enough or being sure of what I get tomorrow. I wish we all could. It would free up our living and our giving.


The Fundraiser as Spiritual Leader

When it comes to money, the church has dirty hands. Reading novels like Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth or Susan Howatch's Starbridge series about the Anglican Church over the centuries, or watching recent television melodramas like The Tudors (about the sixteenth-century Anglican Church), it is easy to see how manipulative the church has been about money. And the people in our pews have made the connection.

There is nothing we can do to change the reality that the church has, for centuries, used fear and intimidation to raise money for its structure and its buildings, often on the backs of illiterate peasants whose superstitions made them easy targets for manipulation. Monasteries and cathedrals charged pilgrims to see relics with supposed healing powers. Preachers frightened their parishioners with stories of demons torturing the damned with lava and pitchforks, knowing the congregation would pay big money to be released from their sins.

Those tactics do not work the way they used to, nor should they. A people living in fear will either give grudgingly or they will hold on to what they have for dear life, whereas a people who live in peace and joy will be more willing to part with what they have and share it with others. Fear curdles gratitude like lemon juice curdles milk. Unfortunately, we live in a church whose DNA is fear-based.

But this is a new day. The death of patriarchy has begun and with it may come a new form of Christianity—even a new form of society. As we heal and our perception of God moves from the perspective of a bad boy or girl standing in front of an angry and disinterested parent to being a good boy or girl standing in front of a loving and nurturing parent, our selfperception will change and our clenched fists will loosen on our money and our time. Fundraising and honest reflection on money and God heals us and heals our relationship with the church and with God.

The Fundraiser as Minister

What would stewardship and fundraising be like in our churches if we were to make the shift from fundraising being a nasty seasonal job to a ministry that helps people to be stronger Christians and better humans?

If you have ever been in a household with a teenager, you have seen the attitude some teens wear when doing their chores. Mom asks Joey to take out the trash and his whole body language tells the story—shoulders slump, a long, painful sigh oozes out of his pursed lips, his eyelids slide to half-mast, and his chin hits his chest. He stomps to the trashcan and pulls out the bag as if it is made of scalding lava. Then he plods to the garage as if the weight of the world were on his shoulders. It pulls the air out of the room and makes everyone around him miserable. And yet, to be a member of the family, he needs to be encouraged to do his part.

I think this is often what it feels like during campaign season in our churches. The leaders wince at having to raise money; they sulk at having to manage a dull and lifeless system (even sometimes a dull and lifeless liturgy). The members slump and their chins sink to their chests as they give their guilty offering, and the stewardship program ekes out its meager existence until the worst is over.

This need not be the case. Just as some doctors are joyful about the health they are bringing to the sick in a hospital, fundraisers in our churches can choose to be joyful about the ministry of helping people to be their best selves.

That may be easier said than done. For most of us, the idea of talking with people about their money and their giving is frightening and upsetting. There is a good reason: inviting people to release their grip on their money and to reconsider the level of their giving to the church, within the context of their relationship to God, touches on some very tender nerves. By improving stewardship campaigns, ramping up the conversation about money in order to change giving patterns, you will push many buttons and upset some people greatly.

It is only human for you to pull back from doing that, especially since you and they are in the same church and so are in a kind of family together. This is why so many people hate the notion of raising money in church and why stewardship campaigns are waylaid by procrastination. Procrastination is just resistance with a calendar attached to it!

Likewise, it is perfectly normal for clergy, whose salaries and benefits come from the money they are raising, to be squeamish about asking boldly for that money in a fundraising campaign. "Conversion of life" is often a term used for a moment of change such as an altar call or a public confession, however in its etymological sense conversion is simply the slow turning we do in life which reorients us away from sin and towards God. As I change my spending habits in order to make a larger pledge possible, I am as much in the process of conversion as if I were quitting smoking or moving from obesity to fitness. Conversion regarding stewardship is a slow process of improved choice-making around money. The only way to move forward is to remember that your work is conversion around money and the funding of mission, and not just asking for money.

The Fundraiser as Shepherd

The ministry of fundraising and the associated work of planning and communications is holy—not because it is called "stewardship," but because it helps people to know how to live well. It is important because it reduces their fear and shame around money and God.

People know they need to give their money away. People know they are only shopping and consuming in order to anesthetize their fears. They know the flourishing of their church depends, in part, on money, and they know the money comes from people who attend the church and consider it their community.

But when it comes to money, the people in our pews are, as scripture says, sheep wandering without a shepherd. The one thing we manage and touch every day—money—is the one thing we are anxious about discussing boldly. The one thing about which we are most afraid—having money—is the one thing that we so often fence into the four weeks of a poorly run stewardship or annual fundraising campaign. The one subject in which we need real logistical and spiritual help—financial stewardship—is the one that we leaders are likely to discuss only superficially and with hesitation.

That has to change, because people need to be freed, and only the gospel and the giving away of our lives, and sharing of our possessions, will save us.


Excerpted from FEARLESS CHURCH FUNDRAISING by Charles LaFond. Copyright © 2012 Charles D. LaFond. Excerpted by permission of Church Publishing Incorporated.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction xv

Part I Fundraising and Giving as Spiritual Practice 1

Chapter 1 The Joy of Giving: Growing Spiritual Gifts through Fundraising 3

Stop Battling and Start Abiding 3

Becoming Sméagol 4

A Reconciling Ministry 5

Free to Live and Give 6

Chapter 2 The Fundraiser as Spiritual Leader 8

The Fundraiser as Minister 9

The Fundraiser as Shepherd 10

The Fundraiser as Presence-Maker 11

The Fundraiser as Coach 12

Chapter 3 Fear, Resistance and Acedia: Removing Spiritual Blocks to Giving 14

On Fear 14

On Resistance 17

On Acedia 21

Leaders on the Frontline 24

Part II Getting Practical about Fundraising 27

Chapter 4 Essential Leadership Practices 29

Be Effective and Kind, not Nice 29

Nurture a Vibrant Church 31

Deserve the Money 32

Chapter 5 Stewardship Campaign Leadership 34

Roles of Campaign Leadership 34

Stewardship Leaders' Ideal Qualifications 39

Chapter 6 Weaving Stewardship Formation into Church Life 43

Resource: Adult Forums on Money 45

Resource: Family Reflection on Money, Giving and God 47

Resource: Tips on Speaking to Young People About Pledging 49

Resource: Six-Week Sunday School Lesson on Stewardship 50

Resource: Financial Planning as Spiritual Practice A Three-part Adult Formation Program 52

Session 1 Hope and Fear around Money and Giving 52

Session 2 A Rule of Life Chapter on Money 54

Session 3 Money Management as Spiritual Practice 58

Resource: Prayers for Stewardship 60

Resource: Preaching Stewardship and Giving 63

Part III The Warm-up: Planning, Recruitment and Communications 65

Chapter 7 Prepare for Planning 67

What-and How-Are You Planning? 67

Five Points for Strategic Planning 68

The Year-Long Campaign Ministry Plan 71

Resource: Campaign Ministry Plan Checklist 73

Chapter 8 Pre-Campaign Discernment 76

Research and Listening Campaign (January) 77

Resource: Member Questionnaire 78

Resource: Survey and Study of Specific Ministries 79

Resource: Community Leader Interviews 80

Discernment of Call and Communication (February-March) 83

Chapter 9 Planning the Annual Pledge Campaign 84

Campaign Plan and Assessment (April-May) 84

Resource: Involvement Assessment 86

Campaign Communications Planning (April-August) 93

Resource: Advanced Communications Toolkit 94

Resource: Essential Communications Toolkit 96

Special Events 97

Resource: Events that put the "Fun" in Fundraising 98

Resource: Special Event Planning Questionnaire 100

Campaign Checklist 102

Resource: Stewardship Campaign Checklist 102

Part IV The Campaign 105

Chapter 10 The Case for Support 107

Craft the Case 108

Resource: Case Development Survey Letter 112

Resource: Components of the Case 115

Resource: Composing Your Case 116

Communicating the Case 117

Resource: What Form Will Your Case Take? 118

Resource: Campaign Case Presentation Letter 119

Chapter 11 Campaign Materials 121

The Lead-up to Kickoff 121

The Pledge Card or "Certificate" 122

Resource: Sample Pledge Certificate 124

Stewardship Campaign Kickoff Sunday 126

Ministry Minutes 126

Resource: Ministry Minute Flyer 129

Participation Thermometer 130

A Final Word on Cost, Speed and Creativity 130

Chapter 12 In the Thick of the Campaign 132

Resource: Model Campaign Schedule 133

Mid-Campaign Check-ins 135

Resource: Weekly Checklist for Campaign Leaders 137

Resource: Weekly Stewardship Ministry Meeting Agenda 138

Resource: Tips on Converting Non-Pledgers to Pledgers 140

Final Weeks of the Campaign 141

Resource: Script: Last Year But Not This Year (or "LYBUNT") 142

Resource: Handwritten, Post Phone-a-thon Note 144

Resource: Script: Prior Year But Not This Year (or "PYBUNT") 145

The Final Sunday 147

Victory Celebration 147

Stewardship Campaign Follow-up 148

The "Thank You" Process 149

Resource: Tips for the Pledge Acknowledgement Process 150

Passing the Torch 151

Campaign Evaluation 151

Resource: Stewardship Campaign Evaluation 153

Stewardship Questionnaires 158

Resource: Stewardship Congregational Questionnaire 159

Chapter 13 The Major Gift 160

The Fear of the Major Gift 161

What Is a Major Gift? 162

The Process Behind Major Gifts 162

The Major Ask 163

The Ask on the Telephone 167

Resource: Tips on Dealing with Voicemail 170

Donor Recognition 171

Resource: Acknowledgement Letter from Clergy 171

Resource: Quarterly Acknowledgement Letter 173

Four Reasons People Don't Give a Major Gift 174

Part V The Ripple Effect: Stewardship-Related Concerns 177

Chapter 14 Planned Giving Programs 179

Resource: Job Description for Planned Giving Contact Person 180

Resource: Planned Giving Sunday Bulletin Insert 181

Chapter 15 Capital Campaign Management 183

The Changing Tide 183

Preparing for the Campaign 184

The Phases of a Capital Campaign 185

Chapter 16 Generational Sensitivity and Strategy 188

Planning for the Generational Shift 188

Getting to Know the Generations 189

The Church Philanthropy Turning (CPT) 190

Donor-Driven Mission versus Church-Driven Mission 191

Resource: Making the Link with Younger Members 194

Conclusion 195

The One Thing 196

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