Wyden Your Horizons!

The Newsletter of VanderWyden Consultants, Inc.
Headquarters: 118 Westchester Drive, Amherst, Ohio 44001

Additional Offices in Los Angeles, CA and Atlanta, GA     Toll-free Phone: 888-245-5826
E-mail: Bill@WydenYourHorizons.com Web: www.WydenYourHorizons.com

                                 January 2005                    Your #1 Source for Professional Fund-raising Counsel for Churches and Non-profit Organizations


1. Wyden Your Horizons with Happy Giving Click
2. Congregational Success Story: Wilbraham United Church, Wilbraham, Massachusetts Click
3. Quotes about Giving Click
4. Current Fund-Raising Trends: Once again Americans are Generous Givers!! Click
5. Scriptures about Giving Click
6. In The News: Will Giving to Aid Tsunami Victims Affect Giving for Other Causes? Click
7. Featured Book: The Lost Art of Church Fund Raising Click
8. About VanderWyden Consultants, Inc. Click
9. Subscribe / Unsubscribe Instructions Click


We are pleased to present this first 2005 Edition of Wyden Your Horizons. We received much positive feedback about our first editions provided in 2004. We provide this free email newsletter as a way to share our learnings about the blessings of generous giving. This publication is provided as a resource for organizations, churches and individuals who raise funds for good causes. Please feel free to forward this email to any family, friends, colleagues, and co-workers who may be interested in subscribing themselves.

Earlier this month we practiced our annual ritual of wishing each other a" Happy New Year." But we all know that wishing does not bring happiness. The Founding Fathers of our nation recognized that fact in the Declaration of Independence by identifying happiness as more of a "pursuit" than a possession. And yet, many in our society seem to act as if happiness comes as we accumulate more possessions. We see this belief portrayed throughout our culture, but it is especially prevalent in our advertising and on television shows such as "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous", "The Apprentice", "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?", etc. which seem to equate opulent wealth with happiness.

However, social scientists have found that there is no direct relationship between attaining abundant possessions and happiness. It has been documented in several studies, that after attaining a certain earning level, perhaps about $40,000 for a family of four in the United States, increased affluence hardly affects happiness. Financial Planner, Elisabeth Plax states, "I would describe happiness as a certain level of inner peace and feeling satisfaction with the family and friends that you have. If that's happiness, money is only going to ad and subtract some, but it's not going to touch the core."

Research shows that people in rich countries are not happier than those in poorer ones. "During the 1980s, The West Germans had double the incomes of the poor Irish, who year after year reported more satisfaction with their lives", says David Myers, a sociologist at Hope College in Michigan, who authored the book, The Pursuit of Happiness. "In the United States, providing that life's necessities are met, the connections between money and reported happiness is weak", Myers stated. 

Ed Diener, a psychologist at the University of Illinois, found no significant difference when he compared the overall feeling of well-being of billionaires and millionaires and the Maasai herdsmen of eastern Africa. Economist Richard Esterlin, says that as people go through each step of the life cycle, they acquire more of the big ticket "good life" possessions like a home, cars, televisions, a swimming pool, etc. , but then their aspirations for such possessions rise proportionately to the gains leaving them "no happier than before."

In fact, a focus on money can contribute to feelings of depression. Richard Ryan, a University of Rochester psychology professor who has studied how the the desire for money affects mental health has found that college students who were most focused on materialism, also were more likely to exhibit attitudes of anxiety and depression. Even as our society has become more affluent, we have skyrocketing use of drugs to fight anxiety and depression.

To find true happiness we have to take the focus off ourselves. Stephen Post, President of The Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, based at the medical school of Case Western Reserve University, which has commissioned 21 studies on altruism and human motivation, says "Happiness is generally not something you can buy or attempt to gain for yourself. It's a byproduct of helping others."

Post's insights seem to echo Jesus' teaching that "it is better to give than receive", and St. Paul's teaching about giving in the ninth chapter of his second letter to the church at Corinth, where he reminds us that "God loves a cheerful giver", and the guidance from proverbs 14: 21 "The person who has mercy on the poor is happy." (paraphrased).

There is an insightful anecdote about the famed Dr. Karl Menninger in this regard. He was asked," if someone came into your office who was very discouraged about his life how would you counsel this person?" Dr. Menninger answered very directly, "I would tell him to get up and go out of my office and go across the tracks and find someone who's situation is worse than yours and help that person."

In fact, as we focus on the needs of others and turn our talents and time to help those who are less fortunate than we are, we Wyden Our Horizons about our own lives and our own potential. Many of those Americans who have literally Wydened their Horizons by leaving their homes to travel to foreign countries to voluntarily help strangers they have never met before, have also Wydened their personal Horizons of self-worth, and confidence and capability. Happiness has a marvelous multiplying behavior. The more you give of yourself to provide it for others the more you find happiness for yourself. Happy Giving truly can Wyden Your Horizons! Top


In 2002 The Wilbraham United Church of Wilbraham, Massachusetts was in a very challenging situation. The membership had been declining in significant numbers for several years, and their facility was in very neglected state. They had to raise about a million dollars and they had an interim minister. They felt that they might be at a disadvantage if they had to tell every potential pastor that they interviewed that the first thing they would have to do when they came to the church would be to conduct a million dollar Capital Fund Campaign.

They asked us to conduct a Comprehensive Financial Feasibility Study to assess the congregation's financial capacity and the willingness to give generously to renovate their facility. In a Comprehensive Study we first review a church's history of giving for the past five years and study the demographics of the area to discern if the required funds are available in the possession of the membership. In this regard the news was good. The membership had not been challenged to give to its capacity for many years, and God had abundantly blessed the membership with more than sufficient funds to fully fund the renovations.

The second thing we do in a Comprehensive Study is to privately interview members who have the capacity to make large leadership gifts to ask how they feel about the church and to hear whether they will support the project. On this front many of the responses were discouraging. Many of these key potential campaign leaders were hesitant to give generously in the midst of an Interim Pastorate when they didn't know if they would like the next pastor.

We next present the full report of our findings to the congregation's leadership. In our Comprehensive Financial Feasibility Study Reports we not only present our findings, but we also provide recommendations about how to remedy challenging circumstances. The congregational leadership carefully reviewed our report, and acknowledged the difficulty of their situation, and then took a leap of faith and decided to launch a Capital Fund Campaign with the goal to fully fund all of the projects. They surmised that if they didn't raise all of the funds, at least they could raise some, and do some of the renovations of their facility. But they decided to aim high toward the ultimate goal and pray for God's assistance.

Tom Toman agreed to be the Campaign Chair and Tom made sure to follow our Campaign Plan completely. He checked in regularly with our office to make sure they were doing everything in the best possible manner. The initial results of the early part of the leadership gifts portion of the campaign were encouraging. As we neared the last couple weeks of the campaign we had exceeded $600,000 in lead gifts. But we knew if we were to reach the goal we still needed a top lead gift of 10% of the overall goal, and all of those who seemed to have that capacity had declined to make such a gift.

Then a miracle occurred! We always expect miracles in our campaigns, as we always set goals that are large enough for God to intervene in the proceedings and this campaign really fit this description. A couple in the church had some property that they had purchased quite a while ago, and they decided to give it to the church as part of the campaign. This gift provided the top lead gift for the campaign. Truly a God send!

When on the morning of Decision Sunday it was announced that the lead gifts had raised over $750,000 the congregation was truly inspired. As the rest of the congregation made their commitments later that day the million dollar goal was exceeded!

The church is now about half way into the campaign's three-year giving period. A new full time pastor has been in place for a little over a year and has been well received. Over $654,000 has been given so far and 18 of the 27 parts of the renovations are either completed or are well underway.

Tom Toman had these reflections on the experience. "We have been extremely busy. We're beginning to think that spending the money is more work than raising it, although not nearly as challenging and inspiring. Overall God is good, our challenges are doable and we are far better off than a year or two ago. Thanks for building our faith and confidence in God and in ourselves." This was truly a high point inspiring campaign for our staff. We always say we are FAITH-raisers rather than fund-raisers, and in this case we really felt our calling was fulfilled. Top


Happiness may be found at the midpoint between having too little and too much.

Never measure your generosity by what you give, but rather, by what you have left. Bishop Fulton Sheen

Happiness is abundantly available. The more you help others find happiness, the more you find you own. Top


In early January, President Bush proclaimed, "The greatest source of America's generosity is not our government; it's the good heart of the American people." The giving of Americans this past year has proved the accuracy of the President's comment. Americans are generous by nature. No other part of the world approaches our level of private giving. The Independent Sector, which tracks philanthropic giving, reported that 89% of American households contribute to charities or religious institutions.

Our giving is distributed throughout the economic sectors of our society. Two thirds of Americans contributed to aid for the victims of the 9/11 attacks, and three quarters of gifts were $100 or less. In the past month online donations to the American Red Cross for Tsunami victims have averaged $104. Americans have given about $500 million dollars so far for the tsunami victims, significantly out-giving the $350 million committed by our government.

Unfortunately our government is not as generous as our citizens. The $350 million dollars committed by our government to aid the tsunami victims is not additional dollars, but will likely come from present foreign aid budgets, which means money for the victims of the tsunami, means less money for needy people in other parts of the world. In terms of our ongoing giving to developing nations our foreign aid is a minuscule percentage of the US Federal Budget. in recent years the European Sector has been far ahead of the United States in aid to developing nations.

During the past few years due to tax cuts and and other government policies the gaps between the rich and the rest of our nation are growing geometrically. Compared to other developed nations we are demonstrating a lack of compassion for the most needy in our society. In 2000, 9.8 % of French children lived in poverty, in the Netherlands it was 8.4%, in Sweden 3.7%, but in the United States 26.3% of children lived in poverty. At the same time, in the 90s top level CEOs saw their pay grow by 571 percent, and the most affluent 5% of families saw their incomes rise 111%, and the top 1% increased their incomes by 184%, while the average workers pay barely outpaced inflation.

Neal Pierce, a columnist for the Washington Post Writers Group, makes the following comments, "The tragedy is that 50 years ago we made such radically better decisions. We invested in people. We democratized higher education with the G.I. Bill. We used federally guaranteed loans to open housing opportunities to an expanding middle class. We put vast public wealth into infrastructure, from schools to cyclotrons to interstate highways. In the 60s we launched a war on poverty. Through these policies we boosted our productivity dramatically, cementing our position as a global economic leader." Top


Proverbs 3:10, Matthew 6:19-21, John 16:24 Top


"The millions of dollars donated to American charities to aid victims of the tsunami probably will not detract from other charitable giving", writes David Gross in a recent article for Slate magazine, which is a daily commentary on Business and Finance. In 2001 Americans gave about 2 billion dollars to aid the victims of the 9/11 terrorists attacks. That figure is about 4 times the amount given to aid the victims of the Tsunami so far. Yet that $2 billion dollars was less than 1% of total giving of Americans to charities in 2001. Mr. Gross suggests that the tsunami giving is a "drop in the bucket of overall donations."

In 2003, $241 billion dollars, or about 2.2% of gross domestic products was donated to charities by individuals, estates, corporations, and foundations, according to The Giving USA 2003 Report which is compiled by the Center for Philanthropy at the University of Indianapolis. This $241 billion dollars is an estimate since it's virtually impossible to know the exact figure, and this total does not even include giving to churches.

On the other hand, Crain's New York Business reported that non-profits for homelessness and hunger relief have seen their giving from their regular donors decline dramatically since the Tsunami, and some agencies have even received letters from donors indicating that amounts given to these charities will be less in 2005 due to giving to aid Tsunami victims.

In our work we have found that non-profit organizations do not need to presume that their revenues will diminish in challenging social circumstances. In our many years serving in this specialized ministry we have many times encountered very challenging financial situations. Each time we have found that God had provided abundantly to meet the giving requirements, but members of the organization needed to be inspired to give more than ever before. We have found that God never puts a need before us without providing a means to meet that need. There is never a shortage of funds to meet a need, but rather a lack of faith in God's providing, and a lack of a convincing Case Statement for the need, and a lack of creativity in how to conduct a campaign that can inspire the membership to raise its level of sacrifice and generosity. Top


Ashley Hale has been long recognized as the Dean of Church Fund-raisers. At one time Mr. Hale was the managing partner of the Wells Organization, which was by far the largest-ever church fund-raising organization. At one time, Ashley, as he preferred to be addressed, supervised the work of 150 church fund-raising consultants. Ashley also wrote a regular column on Stewardship for the Clergy Journal.

I was very fortunate to have Ashley as my mentor when I began my fund-raising ministry. Ashley was in retirement and he agreed to serve as a consultant to help us improve our ability to raise funds for churches. At first I was challenged by Ashley's insistence that church members could give far more than they were giving. But as I began to follow Ashley's guidance and saw the results of his Gospel of Good Giving in practice I became a convert and believer and was thrilled to glean as much knowledge as possible from Ashley.

The chapter titles in this easy to read book highlight Ashley's strikingly blunt, amusing principles, for example : "A Farewell to Alms", "Never hear the Deadly, 'No'"; "Your Unemployed Millionaires", "Happy Money", "Your Church is not a Charity," and "Reasons vs. Excuses".

This book can truly transform the attitudes of your church members about giving and their church's potential to raise all the funds that are required for your church's ministries. The Lost Art of Church Fund Raising is published by Precept Press and is available through Amazon.com  This book review was written by Bill VanderWyden. Top


VanderWyden Consultants provide professional fund-raising guidance to non-profit organizations and churches who need assistance with their fund-raising, including Comprehensive Financial Feasibility Studies, Capital Fund Campaigns, Stewardship Operating Budget Campaigns, Planned Giving Campaigns, as well as Evangelism and Membership Growth Campaigns.

Our staff has conducted over 350 successful campaigns throughout the United States. Our Capital Fund Campaign program can help churches raise as much as 13 times existing giving levels, and our Operating Budget Stewardship program results in increases of 10-35%. Top


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Bill VanderWyden
VanderWyden Consultants, Inc.
118 Westchester Drive
Amherst, Ohio 44001
Toll-free Phone: 888-245-5826 (888-Bill-Van)
E-mail: Bill@WydenYourHorizons.com
Web: www.WydenYourHorizons.com