The Newsletter of VanderWyden Consultants, Inc.
Additional Offices in Los Angeles, CA and Atlanta, GA
Toll-free Phone: 888-245-5826
INSIDE THIS ISSUE...
1. Wyden Your Horizons with an Attitude of Abundance Click
In this Spring 2005 Edition of our email newsletter, we explore ways that churches and non-profit organizations are Wydening Their Horizons by adopting Attitudes of Abundance to provide more services and ministries to their communities, and to raise the funds required to expand their facilities. We are happy to provide this free email newsletter as a way to share our insights about the blessings and joys of generous giving. This publication is provided as a resource for organizations, churches and individuals, who are raising 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.
Many times we hear leaders in churches and non-profit organizations bemoan the "fact" that "times are tough and our members just can't afford to give any more." They use this rationale to not expand their ministries to meet additional needs, or to cut existing programming and staffing. Often these restrictions on programming may come at times when some members may need those programs the most. Especially when times are tough, people need their community service organizations to be strong to assist them through life's crises.
We have never found that a lack of funds is really the limiting factor for a church or non-profit agency. It is always more a lack of creativity in how to present the case for giving and/or a lack of faith in God's providing. Another way to state this finding, is that "God never puts a need before us without providing a means to meet that need." The problem usually is not a lack of funds, but a lack of faith. We believe that God provides! Jesus said, "I have come that you may have life, and life in abundance."
In many churches and non-profit organizations, if they received $1,000,000 unexpectedly, the biggest problem would be a shortage of creative ideas about to how to use the money. That is why many times in such situations, the conventional wisdom is focused on how to "take care" of this money, instead of how to use the money to "take care" of more people. So the church or non-profit organization takes the million dollars, and sets up an endowment or foundation fund, puts restrictions on spending the principle and uses the income to support the ongoing programs. Such practices usually lead to lower giving by the members and dependency on the endowment funds to support the ongoing work. In effect, these churches and organizations follow the example of the timid servant in the parable, who buries his masters funds in the ground, rather than risking losing them. If you remember the parable, you remember that the master was not very pleased with such faith-less behavior. The other two servants took risks, but multiplied their master's resources and were rewarded for their courage and ingenuity.
Often we have found that the questions we ask church leaders at an initial interview make a real difference in what they raise. Since we operate from an "Abundance Theology", we often ask, "How much do you really need to raise to meet these needs." After a few uncomfortable coughs, someone speaks up and says, "We didn't think we could raise all that money, so we lowered our goal, and decided to go at the projects in phases." We generally respond with the question, "Wouldn't it be more cost-effective to raise all the money now, so you wouldn't have to pay for the increased costs of the projects done in later phases? And, don't your members and community members need those facilities and programs now?" The church leaders typically answer "Yes" to both questions. We then illustrate to them that God has provided abundant funds to support the projects, by showing them the results of our Financial Feasibility Study of their history of giving versus their potential for giving. When they see our findings, their confidence is raised and they go on to set ambitious goals based on attitudes of abundance, and they raise far more than they would have otherwise.
Many times church leaders have told us that our verification that they could raise all the funds they needed in one campaign, made all the difference in how much they raised. They say, "When you told us we could raise all the funds, we thought about the campaign in a different way." Typically, churches raise all the funds they require in one campaign, when they approach their project with an attitude of abundance.
We believe that we need to aim high when we set goals, both in life and in fund-raising Campaigns. By definition, a goal is a target we aim for, that causes us to raise our sights, toward the heavens. It is better to aim high, and not quite get to the high goal, than to aim very low and to achieve the low goal. If you are setting goals for your life, you will always achieve more in your life if you make a habit of aiming high, risking occasionally not reaching your goal. On the other hand, if you always aim low, you may always achieve your goals, but not accomplish much in your life.
To use numbers to illustrate this principle: "If you need one million dollars to renovate your facility, which is better? To set a goal of one million dollars and raise $950,000, or to set a goal of 600,000 and raise $650,000 toward your project? In the second option, it looks like you exceeded your goal, but in fact you fell far short of your Ultimate Goal, which is to build your facility with as little debt as possible.
Some fund-raising consultants make a habit of setting lower financial goals for the organizations they work with. Often, these fund-raisers are employees of large, mega fund-raising firms. They are pre-occupied with numbers. When they make a report of their campaign results, it looks better on paper for it to appear that they always reach their goals. But in fact, much of the time they may have dramatically missed the ultimate goal of the organizations they have worked with. Such organizations are not serving in your best interest but theirs.
Attitudes of Abundance lead to faith-filled goal setting, rather than play it safe, fear-full goal-setting. An Attitude of Abundance will always move you farther, will raise more funds, and will raise more faith, than minimal goal setting. Because we function with an Attitude of Abundant thinking as we help churches and organizations, we regularly enable organizations to raise record amounts for their needs. Abundant Attitudes and faith-filled goal setting truly can Wyden Your Horizons in your life, and Wyden the Horizons of the organizations you work with. Top
Immanuel Congregational United Church of Christ is a mid-size church in downtown Hartford, Connecticut with a vital mission, providing critical ministries to its members and community. For many years the church had supplemented its Operating Budget with the interest from its significant endowment funds. When the principle amount of that endowment shrunk dramatically in the recent recession, the church had to find some other way to increase its Annual Operating Budget funds.
At the same time, the church also needed to renovate its facilities that had undergone much deterioration over the years. They needed to raise major increases for Operating needs for Programming and Staffing, and to conduct a million dollar plus Capital Fund Campaign for renovation of their facilities at the same time.
VanderWyden Consultants, Inc. was asked to assist the church with these challenges. We conducted a Comprehensive Financial Feasibility Study, which included a review of the church's history of giving, a review of the demographics of the area and the potential for increased giving, and confidential interviews of a significant number of church members.
The Financial Feasibility Study found that the church members were giving far below their potential, for the Operating Budget needs of the church. Often when a church has an Endowment Fund, a congregation can become dependent on the proceeds from those funds to supplement the on-going programming of the church, and the membership is not challenged to give up to its potential. This can become a long-term habit, which can be very difficult to turn around.
The Financial Feasibility Study also found that the members we interviewed were in possession of major asset funds that could enable the congregation to fully raise all the funds required to renovate its facilities. The church leadership received our positive findings and proceeded to launch ambitious campaigns, to supplement their Operating Budget funds, and a million dollar plus Capital Fund Campaign for renovations to its facilities.
The church proceeded with the Stewardship Operating Budget Campaign first. We provided our Wyden Your Horizons Operating Budget Campaign Program, which involves many members in a very personal way in the campaign. It is a well-know fact that the more personal the campaign, the more effective it will be. Some consultants may try to convince you that you can improve the giving of your members through more information, by producing attractive, slick brochures and compelling cover letters. But in these highly technical times we are all bombarded with information on a daily basis. Information can be ignored, but involvement cannot be ignored. The more you involve your members in a campaign, the more ownership your members will feel for your programs, and the more funds you will raise.
In addition to involving members in a campaign, it is also important to create a convincing "Case Statement" for the need for increased giving. We assisted the church in creating a convincing Case Statement, for the urgency for increasing giving from incomes, to support the church's programming, ministries, and staffing. We also provided guidance for creative campaign publicity that inspired members to realize their blessings and potential for increased giving. The Stewardship Operating Budget Campaign resulted in increases in giving of over 20% for programming and staffing for the first year, and combined with the following two years, the program produced increases in the church's per household giving of over 35%!
The Church followed the Operated Budget Campaign by asking us to assist them with our Joy of Generosity Capital Fund Campaign Program to raise the funds to renovate their facilities. The church enlisted excellent leadership from its membership, who inspired their fellow members to join them in increasing their giving from their assets and income, and the campaign resulted in commitments in excess of $1,100,000. The church's programs have been revitalized through increased support for the Operating Budget, and the church is in the midst of renovating its facilities for greater service to its congregation and community.
Senior Pastor of The Church, Rev. Ed Horstmann commented, "Bill VanderWyden was a challenging and prophetic presence in our midst, who called us to stretch toward a higher standard of generosity, and gave us practical guidance and insights to realize our dreams. I am deeply grateful for his faith, his leadership, and his inspiration." We felt very privileged to have assisted this church to grow in its faith in God's providing. Top
Faith is assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
Living with an "attitude of abundance" means acting as if you are sure that God will provide.
"I have come that you might have life, and life in abundance!" Jesus of Nazareth (John 10:10)
God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything, and may provide in abundance for every good work. II Cor 9:8 Top
Individuals in Generation X are not, at this time, as generous as their parents and grandparents. Some may excuse this lack of benevolence, by believing that this generation may have less disposable income due to increased costs of housing, college debts, taxes, etc. However, this may be a very misguided assumption.
Most of Generation X, defined by demographers as those born between 1965 and 1981, are in their thirties, and the oldest are turning 40 this year. Consequently, many have progressed in their vocations to the point where they can make significant gifts to public service organizations. In addition, some of this generation is beginning to benefit from the greatest transfer of wealth in U.S. history. Trillions of dollars will be passed on to this generation through inheritances from their parents and their grandparents.
Unfortunately, most non-profit organizations have been relatively unsuccessful in reaching this generation. Churches and non-profits that want to appeal to Generation X must provide activities that relate to this generation's desires and ideals. Many members of Generation X have seen their parents become divorced or laid off from their jobs. Many are very devoted to spending time with their families, and are less dedicated to their employers than their parents and grandparents.
Public service organizations who want to appeal to this generation must be able to articulate the vision of their programs and ministries, so that members can easily understand how their funds are directly helping people. Some organizations have found success in enlisting financial support from members of Generation X by first offering opportunities for donations of time. It is also beneficial to create groups where members of this generation can receive training about how best to make gifts, and to offer gatherings where members of Generation X can discuss how their gifts can make a difference. This generation values networking which can lead them to working with others for the common good.
Far more of Generation X have gone to college than previous generations. They are far more mobile and less committed to large organizations than their parents and grandparents. By developing programs that offer the possibility of using their professional skills, some organizations are having great success in attracting large numbers of Generation X. These hands-on activities give the volunteers first-hand knowledge of how the church or non-profit organization is functioning, and how increased giving will help more people. These gifts of time can lead to an openness to making financial donations.
Members of Generation X want to make contributions to their communities. Once these individuals become involved, many will give generously if asked. They have significant resources to give, and are coming into their own, and are looking for ways to make lasting differences in their communities and the world.
Once again, in our present social milieu, there is not a shortage of funds, but a shortage of creative endeavors to involve people in the work of an organization that can enable them to see how their gifts can make a difference. It is critical time for the future survival of many denominations, churches, and public service agencies. Many churches and public service agencies are experiencing financial struggles due to the aging of their membership. Many of these organizations may not survive if they do not find ways to involve members of Generation X in their activities.
If social service agencies start with an Attitude of Abundance when they think of members of Generation X, they will have the courage, creativity and faith to establish programs that benefit members of this emerging generation. These programs will require volunteer hands-on activities to make them function. When members of Generation X are asked to become involved in their neighborhoods in this way many are happy to be invited to serve, and they donate their time and skills, which can lead to them making significant gifts from their financial resources. Churches and non-profit organizations can create a win-win situation, if they focus on offering programs that benefit young people and offer activities where members of Generation X can engage in public service.
Adopting an Attitude of Abundance in approaching members of Generation X can Wyden the Horizons for service for many individuals and can provide sustaining support for many churches, denominations, and social service agencies. It is truly a situation of asking and you shall receive. Top
Many local communities have started their
own versions of larger organizations, and many new charities have been
created through the use of the internet. This explosion in the number of
charities has produced some benefits by giving donors more opportunities
to direct their giving, and also some new challenges as some organizations
compete for support.
Some organizations think consolidation is in order at this time, while others think it is beneficial for individuals to have opportunities to donate in their separate neighborhoods and/or directly to their favorite interest or cause.
We are interested in what our readers think about this huge increase in the number of agencies and churches that are providing public service and competing for donations from members and citizens. How is this phenomenon affecting your church or non-profit agency? What are your feelings about this phenomenon? Please provide us with your feedback though our email address: Bill@WydenYourHorizons.com. We will report your insights in a following issue of Wyden Your Horizons! Top
In this season of Eastertide, as we celebrate Christ's victory over death, it is an appropriate time to feature a book which focuses on the most challenging topic of life - death.
We live in a society that in many ways is "death-defying" and "death-denying." We are pre-occupied with having healthy lifestyles, and having the best possible health care so that life can be extended at all costs. We exercise, eat the right foods, have our regular physicals and check-ups, and in many ways act as if we can avoid death.
We also avoid talking about death. Death is perhaps the most taboo topic in our society. We act like death is too depressing, too worrisome, too challenging for us to discuss it. We provide antiseptic memorial services, and then act as if we can just right back to the routines of their lives, without taking time for grieving and healing.
Since we avoid talking about death, we are unable to provide answers to our children's questions about death. They ask tough questions. "Why do people die?" "Why does God allow people to kill other people?" "Why does God allow suffering?"
Even if we avoid talking about death with our children, we cannot shield them from death. Our media bombard us with images of death - images of killings in Iraq and Afghanistan, the devastation of the hundreds of thousands lost in the Tsunami, and the recent deaths of Terri Schiavo and Pope John Paul II. Children see and hear about death daily, and they have important questions.
Before I was called to this special ministry of faith-raising, I was a local church Pastor for fifteen years. During that period of time I had to preside at Funerals for very young children. I met with the families and struggled for words to "make sense" of the sense-less loss of the life of a young child. But there are no words that can console a family that has lost a child. The death of a child is devastating because it can cause us to question our faith, as we cannot understand how a child can be taken from us before reaching their prime, and how a loving God can let innocent little children endure painful suffering. Families who have lost children need time for grieving, to sort things out, and to find healing and hope.
I searched for resources that I could give to the families for them to read as they struggled with their grief, that could provide some consolation and that could help them to eventually find healing and hope. But I could not find any resource that really met the criteria that I thought was essential - a practical and easy to read book, that would help provide answers for children and their parents and other family members as they dealt with the death of children
I believe if you see a need and you don't see a resource to meet that need, you are being called by God to use your talents to find a way to meet that need. So I began to write a book that could meet this critical need to be able to answer children's questions about death and life eternal, and which would provide guidance in how to talk with children who may be dying, or who has lost a loved one, and are trying to make sense of this great loss.
This was not an easy book to write, as I had a very human aversion to the topic. I had doubts that anyone would ever want to buy a book about death, and that the whole effort might be an exercise in futility. But I felt I had to find a way to help with this great need. And I found that, as always, when you respond to a call from God, you can count on God's help. At the time I was writing the book, our children were very young, and an experience with them provided the essential metaphor for the book, "Butterflies", that provided a hopeful title for the book. My wife, Renee, is an elementary school teacher. From her experience, she helped me write the chapter where we suggest that we need to use different approaches for children of different ages. The book provides a roadmap through the stages of grief and healing, and answers to the 8 questions that children ask about death and life eternal.
I have been asked to speak about the book in many settings and have found that people of all ages want to talk about how they experienced deaths in their childhood. It seems that the book provides the permission to talk about this difficult topic, and most everyone has an unresolved grief from their childhood, and are hungering for a format where they can talk about their feelings and attempt to find some kind of closure.
It is best to talk with children about death in the normal course of life, rather than waiting for a crises and not being prepared. They need to be taught that death is a part of life, but that our faith provides hope. Especially at this time of year, as we see in the beauty in nature as life returns after the death of winter, we can talk with our children about death, and our faith that love can overcome death, and can lead to life eternal and a reunion with our loved ones.
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.
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