The Newsletter of VanderWyden Consultants, Inc.
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In this spring Edition of Wyden Your Horizons, we provide suggestions about how to improve results in Annual Operating Budget Campaigns, and how to find the cure for the international pandemic of the A-Flu. We are happy to provide this free email newsletter as a way to share our insights about the blessings of Fund-raising through Faith-raising, and the Joys of Generosity. 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 family, friends, colleagues, and co-workers who may be interested in subscribing themselves.
This year marks the 10th Anniversary of the founding of VanderWyden Consultants. We aim to equip churches to raise all of the financial resources they require, and to grow in faith as a result, in order to advance their essential programs and ministries. To celebrate our 10 years of service, we are conducting a research survey to ascertain the types of fund-raising services that are required by growing churches. We want our research to benefit as many congregations and individuals as possible, so we will make our findings available to consultants, conferences, judicatories, and denominations. If you would like to participate, please Click Here to Take Survey. The survey only takes about 2-3 minutes to complete and is structured to ensure that all responses are confidential. Thank you in advance for assisting us in this important effort.|
A virulent Flu is spreading rapidly around the globe, from continent to continent, nation to nation, to cities and small towns, infecting millions of individuals. The major means of transmission seems to be through the media, although it is also spread through person to person contact. The A-Flu results in numerous life-threatening illnesses and is seemingly unstoppable. If its spread is not halted, the results will be far more catastrophic for the world than the Bird-Flu, or any other previous international epidemic.
The A-Flu refers to "Affluenza," a term coined as the title of a
documentary television program which first aired on PBS in 1997. "It is a painful, contagious socially transmitted condition
of overload of debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of
more." The response to the television program was unexpectedly profound and
Even though the television program and the book drew great responses, almost ten years later we are still mired down in the disease. In some ways it seems that this desire to have more is entrenched in our national and global cultures. We designate nations as undeveloped if their resources have not been fully tapped and their citizens have not succumbed to needing tangible things to buy them happiness. We assess the health of our nation by the magnitude of our Gross National Product, as if the more stuff we produce the more successful we are. Just about fifty years ago, in 1957, the percentage of Americans who described themselves as "very happy" reached its pinnacle. Even though now in terms of GNP we have twice as much stuff as fifty years ago, the percentage of those who feel happy is decreasing. And to attain this ever-larger GNP we are taking on ever increasing levels of debt, both personally and nationally.
Every year we are told we "need" the "new and improved products", and many of us succumb to this marketing propaganda and go out and buy the new products and discard the old ones. As a result of our greed for more and more products, we are at the same time destroying the ecology of our planet. We ravage the earth of its minerals and resources to produce more and more products, and at the same time we create megatons of poisonous garbage from discarded used products. In addition to destroying the environment of the planet, the United States leads the world in its ability to destroy other human beings. The USA produces and owns more weapons than all of the other nations of the world combined.
In order to keep up with the "need" to purchase the new, improved products, we have to work overtime to purchase them. Then when we get home from work, we have to spend time taking care of our possessions. It now takes two incomes to purchase an average house because the average size of new homes is twice what it was fifty years ago. We expect that our children will make more money and have better things than we have, and are discouraged when it appears that may not be the case. We always expect that "new" and "better" products will make our lives easier. But bigger homes, bigger yards, more complicated cars, and electronic devices require more of our attention. So even though these new products are supposed to save us time, we in fact have far less "free time" than previous generations. Much of our time is spent just keeping track of our stuff.
I remember vividly when one of my seminary professors stated that "The more stuff you own, the more the stuff owns you" because you have to pay for it, take care of it, maintain it, etc. Jesus, made this point in this way, "Where your treasure is, there is your heart." A recent survey found that 7 out of 10 American homes are drowning in clutter. Self-storage has, in fact, become a $17 billion annual industry in the USA -- larger than the motion picture industry. So we add on to our homes, or buy second homes, or rent more storage units to make room for all the stuff we have. Ironically, we really need something we end up not being able to find it. So we go out and buy a new one.
Our freeways are congested because everyone has to have a car, and our garbage dumps are overflowing to the point that some states pay other states to take their junk. Even our airlines are congested with junk. The last flight I took was delayed over half an hour because those of us on the plane had taken along so much of our stuff that the storage cargo of the plane couldn't hold it all.
In addition to our freeways, airplanes, and homes, we are also becoming "stuffed" ourselves. Our national palates have become more discriminating. When we go out to eat, we expect a good restaurant will have a wine list, and food that will be presented with lots of special sauces and condiments. It is not just the fast-food restaurants that are causing us to have an epidemic of obesity. Having more food, doesn't necessarily mean healthier people. And of course, overweight and obesity is leading to epidemic increases in heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc. It seems we have forgotten the truth of the folk wisdom, "too much of a good thing can make you sick."
I could on and on describing the symptoms of Affluenza. If you want to have an exhaustive list, you could buy the book, Affluenza, The All-Consuming Epidemic, just one more thing you need to buy, own, and store! :) But seriously, I do believe that all Americans need to read the book. (If you don't want to own it and store it in your home or office, most libraries have one on their shelves.) Not only have the authors, John de Graaf, David Wann, and Thomas H. Naylor, done a great job of describing all of the symptoms of Affluenza, they also have provided a variety self-diagnostic tools and new behaviors that can help individuals, cities, states, and nations to be cured of Affluenza.
I believe there is one cure that they have not mentioned in the book, however, that perhaps has the greatest potential to cure the disease. As with most diseases, if we want to be cured we often have to adopt new behaviors. The new behavior that can enable you to cure yourself of the disease is to practice the art of sacrificial, generous giving, and in doing so you will find the Joy of Generosity. Rather than buying and owning, think in terms of giving and sharing. Generous giving feels good. Studies have shown that when you give generously, going beyond the extra mile to help someone else, you feel different inside, and part of that different feeling is due to the fact that that feeling releases endorphins that are good for your health. Scientific studies have shown that regular givers have lower blood pressure, lower rates of heart disease, less depression, and live longer. In fact, the opposite is probably also true, the more stuff we have the more likely we are to have high blood pressure from trying to keep track of it all. On the other hand, regular generous giving releases the same endorphins that can provide you with the same wonderful feelings that runners experience as that "runners high."
I am not suggesting the extravagant giving behavior that is advertised during our national religious holidays -- the exhaustive need to give presents to our relatives, who often do not need any more possessions. I am talking about a daily attitude of thinking before you purchase, considering the consequences of that purchase, and of thinking what you could accomplish if you were to use that money to help someone who really had a need.
I have to admit that adopting this kind of daily behavior is not easy. It is a discipline that runs counter to our cultural habits. When I think this way, I realize that there are few new products that I really need to have. So I strive to think before I purchase something, especially if it is especially attractive or enticing, and to try to remember that this paraphrase of Jesus' words, "If you seek first God's realm, everything that you need will be provided for you." I also try to ask myself, "Is this product going to help me keep my life's priorities in order and to help me put first things first?" And when I am asked what I would like for my birthday or Christmas, I suggest a donation to Heifer Project or some other worthy cause. I appreciate and remember these gifts, which enable me to help others, far longer than the tangible gifts I receive, that a year later I may not remember, or which I may have misplaced.
As far as how much to give away, Jesus presents a humbling example for all of us. Even though we tithe as a family, giving away 10% of our gross income, we still have a long way to go to be giving truly sacrificially. But I yearn for that simpler life, where I have fewer possessions, more resources to give away to help others, and more time to enjoy being with my friends and loved ones, and a more meaningful life. When I am able to practice the Joy of Generosity daily, I will be truly cured of Affluenza. My hope is that you also will find the Joy of Generosity and consequently have a healthier, happier, more whole, and more holy life. Maybe we can encourage each other in finding a cure for Affluenza. As with changing most behaviors, it is beneficial to having a support system. I would love to hear from readers of this newsletter, who would like to share your struggles with Affluenza and your Joys of Generosity. Top
Any time you want to produce significant improvements, it is best to start with a plan. This is obviously common sense, but many churches and non-profits throw together their "Annual Appeal" in September or October, and conduct their "Stewardship Drive" in November, and do follow-up on those who don't initially respond. This last minute approach promotes anxiety, urgency, and the tendency to just do a little cosmetic touch up of last year's program. It is no wonder with this kind of approach that the results usually are disappointing.
Since many individuals are used to these efforts coming at the end of the year, they routinely tune them out as just another request for support among the many they receive at that time of year. In many churches, the Pastor's annual Stewardship Sermon is announced in advance, so that many members know that Sunday is a good time to take that last weekend vacation before winter. And since most non-profits conduct their annual mail appeals in the fall, often well-designed, expensive fund-raising materials are routinely discarded along with the myriad of catalogs and advertisements that arrive in advance of the Holiday Season.
Churches and organizations that effectively increase their giving from year to year, start planning their efforts several months in advance with an honest assessment of the previous year's efforts. This starts with a professional analysis of the giving habits of the key donors, specifically looking for trends or demographic indices of which donors increased their giving, which ones decreased their giving, and which ones maintained similar levels of giving, and whether the members are giving up to their potential. Based on this analysis and consideration of the effectiveness of the previous year's process, a new process is designed, and appropriate leaders leaders for the effort are recruited who have the specific talents required to match the tasks involved in the process.
Although there is much wisdom to conducting the enlistment portion of Operating Budget Campaigns in the fall, we have found that organizations that have effective Operating Budget efforts work year-round to inform their members of the benefits of their giving. The more positive contacts that individuals receive throughout the year, the less they have to be "pushed" to increase giving in the fall. We recommend sending out regular "Thank You notes" throughout the year as the best way to avoid the fall "pressure-filled" campaign. Monthly or quarterly mailings that state, "Thank you for your generosity. Your gifts have made these programs and ministries possible..." provide compelling highlights and valuable information to donors that their gifts are being used well and that they are making a significant difference in the world. Also fund-raising research verifies that donors who receive a thank you note are much more likely to donate again, when a second request is made. The year-round publication of your services ensures that donors are well-informed about your programs and/or ministries so that you don't have to do a fall 'blitz."
So if you are to have a successful Operating Budget Campaign this fall, start planning and publicizing your programs now, and decide which process you are going to use. If you want to have an effective, exceptional annual appeal this fall, now is the time to begin organizing this effort, if you want to be sure to succeed.
Note: VanderWyden Consultants, Inc. offers an Operating Budget Program that
dependably produces 15 -35% increases in giving. Our Wyden Your
Horizons Program provides a comprehensive process that builds donor loyalty
and relationships, increases the number of members filling out cards and
dramatically increases the total amount committed for a church or non-profit
organization's annual operating expenses and programs and ministries. The
program incorporates all of the state of the art processes. The Program
culminates in Campaign Month, and there is no follow-up required to members
after Campaign Month. The following article highlights how this program
worked last year in one of the churches we worked with. However, The Wyden
Your Horizons Program requires several months of preparation, so fall
efforts must be started during the spring. If you are interested in learning
more about the Wyden Your Horizon's Program contact us through our toll-free
number 1- 888-Bill Van or 1-888-245-5826 Top
Plymouth Church of Shaker Heights, Ohio ran its 2004 Operating Campaign by sending out Pledge Cards and asking members to return them to the church. The results of this effort for the church's 2005 ministries were especially discouraging, since the pledges of the membership did not come close to the level of funding that was required. Consequently, the church had to make significant cuts in its 2005 Operating Budget.
Realizing that an innovative, inspiring program would be required to change the giving habits of its congregation, the Church contracted with VanderWyden Consultants, Inc. to implement our Wyden Your Horizons Program for its Operating Budget Campaign for 2005. We created a tailor-made Campaign Plan for the church in the spring, including Campaign Plan Manuals. The church recruited outstanding campaign leaders who energetically implemented the campaign plan.
One of the key points of our program is the emphasis on helping members to realize that their giving is in relation to God, not in relation to the church's annual budget. The campaign leadership decided to encourage this insight among the membership by adopting our recommended guidelines for giving for Annual Giving Campaigns, by asking all households in the church to prayerfully consider increasing their annual giving by 1% of their income, with the long term goal of "striving to tithe." The campaign leadership created the campaign theme, "Look Inside," to emphasize this paradigm shift in thinking about giving.
Such significant change obviously requires leadership by example. The campaign leadership followed our guidance by committing themselves to increasing their giving by at least 1% of their incomes, and by asking the church council and other church leaders to join them at this level of increased giving. We also provided professional training for church leaders, so that they could make personal calls on other members who had the potential to make significant increases in giving, to ask them to join them in making lead gifts for the campaign. These calls were conducted early in the fall of 2005, so by the time we began campaign month, October 2005, we were able to announce that the church leadership had committed itself to major increases in giving for 2006.
In addition, in advance of campaign month, the campaign committee produced printed informational materials and the campaign video, which illustrated the church's programs and the need to increase giving. Members were invited to attend pre-decision parties during the first two weeks of campaign month, the campaign video was shown at these parties, and trained presenters shared illustrations about how members could increase their giving
During the second two weeks of campaign month, the campaign leadership conducted our Pass-Along-Packet Process, where informational materials were passed from home to home and members could write their testimonials about their love of the church and fill out their Intention-to-Give Cards.
Due to the dedication and leadership of the campaign leadership, the congregation was inspired to reaffirm their relationship to God and to give generously in response to Gods' abundant providing. The per capita pledge increased from $2,254 to $2,782, and there were 30 new pledging units as a result of the campaign. The overall giving indications increased by $85,174, which represents a 15% increase in giving over the previous year.
Rev. Jim Antal, Senior Pastor of the church shared these comments about
the campaign, "Bill VanderWyden invited Plymouth to look at annual giving
strictly as an act of gratitude and faithfulness. Those who preferred to
focus on the needs of the church were urged to "look inside" their hearts
and consider increasing their pledge by 1% of gross annual income.
VanderWyden Consultants helped us to create a campaign that featured
numerous opportunities for people to talk about what the church meant to
them, and to hear others' inspiring testimonies. Altogether, the campaign
represented a watershed of unprecedented increases in giving."
VanderWyden Consultants provide professional fund-raising
guidance to non-profit organizations and churches who need assistance
with their fund-raising. We provide professional guidance for Capital Fund Campaigns, Stewardship
Operating Budget Campaigns, Planned Giving Campaigns, Comprehensive
Financial Feasibility Studies, and the dynamics of stimulating growth in
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Rev. P. William VanderWyden, C.F.R.E.