As fundraising fashions come and go, which elements are vital and which can be varied or skipped from year to year? Congregations have successfully flouted techniques once thought essential—in-home canvassing, a published budget, the kickoff dinner, even the hallowed pledge card. Replacement approaches rise and fall: Consecration Sunday, crowdfunding, targeted giving. Has human nature changed so much, or do fundamental principles apply?
An entire philanthropic industry, complete with journals, associations, specialized vendors, academic research, and special reports, exists to support nonprofit fundraising. I know because in my day job as a nonprofit executive, I’m bombarded with articles, tools and reports designed to help me raise the $3.5 million that I need annually to feed 15,000 people a month. Ministers can learn a lot from this industry.
by Dan Hotchkiss
“Fundraising is the board’s main job.” I was stunned by this blunt advice from the executive director of a respected arts nonprofit. “I tell every new board member,” she continued, “give, get—or get out.” We expect each member to produce at least $5,000, either out of their own pockets or by asking others.”