Wyden Your Horizons!

The Newsletter of VanderWyden Consultants, Inc.
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Providing Professional Giving Counsel
for Churches & Non-profit Organizations

Capital Fund Campaigns - Operating Budget Campaigns - Planned Giving
Wyden Your Horizons and Find The Joy of Generosity

August 2008 - INSIDE THIS ISSUE. . .

1. Guidelines for Giving are Important for Operating Budget Campaigns Click
2. It's Time to Plan for a Planned Giving Campaign Click
3. About VanderWyden Consultants, Inc. Click
4. Subscribe / Unsubscribe Instructions Click

We hope you are enjoyed your summer. Most churches' program years begin in a week or two, so it's time to begin to make some key decisions regarding upcoming fund-raising. Although it may seem unappealing to some, churches and non-profit organizations must always be raising funds if they are to provide the ministries and services that are essential for their congregations, constituencies, and communities. At VanderWyden Consultants we strive to provide services that enable fund-raising campaigns to be well-organized, pleasant, no-pressure endeavors that invite individuals and members to give willingly and cheerfully. We have found that when members and donors give because they want to, they give wholeheartedly and often far more than if they had been pressured or persuaded into giving.

We also delight in training volunteers, who may feel anxious about talking about money, to develop the confidence to express their feelings about the worthy cause they are supporting and the conviction that they are engaged in a very significant endeavor. A lot of volunteers say, "I don't want to ask someone for money." Our training provides ways to not "ask for money" but to share your enthusiasm and to invite others to join you in making important improvements in the world.

We believe fund-raising is a truly meaningful calling. In essence, it is to be about the work of encouraging the act of sharing, which can provide for the voluntary redistribution of wealth from those who have been financially blessed to those who are in need. In this edition of Wyden Your Horizons, we share guidance about the importance of providing giving guidelines for donors in Operating Budget Campaigns, and suggestions for how to prepare for a Planned Giving Campaign.

We are happy to share what we learn through our work and pray that this publication may provide helpful suggestions for your worthwhile fund-raising efforts. We also are happy to share the insights of our readers. If you have any ideas you would like to share, or if you have any questions about our services, please don't hesitate to call using our toll-free number. We pray that you will have a wonderful program year throughout 2008 - 2009.

Guidelines for giving are important for operating budget campaigns

Many churches and non-profits make the mistake of not giving their donors suggestions for the level of support that will be necessary, or they provide guidelines for giving that are not helpful. Then, when the results of their fund-raising does not come up to the level that is needed, they wonder what went wrong.

Years ago, when I was involved in one of my first Operating Budget Campaigns, the volunteer leader suggested that we just ask people to give as much as they were able. "I'm sure they'll give as much as possible, and we'll have the funds we need." I expressed my reservations about such an approach, but he was committed to that plan, and he was a well-respected leader of the organization. The campaign was conducted and as could be expected, the results were severely below what was required for the organization to provide its services for the coming year. We discussed the situation, and concluded that the only thing we could do was to conduct a "second mile" appeal. This time when I suggested that we fully inform the members about the situation and how much additional funds were needed and what this meant for each donor, the volunteer agreed readily.

Unfortunately, this low commitment approach is quite common. Even worse than not giving any guidelines for giving is to not expect members to make any indication as to what they will give to support the organization for the coming years. Many churches function in this manner, not requiring members to "pledge" for the coming year. When I am invited to assist these churches, I always ask, "How do you plan in such situations when you have no idea what members will give?" The most frequent response is, "We pretty much know the total of what the members gave last year, so we plan for a similar amount, occasionally we bump the numbers up a little." Of course, it is very difficult to plan for any major increase in services, or even to provide for significant increases in compensation for staff with this approach. When I ask, "Why don't you ask your members to make any commitments?" I usually hear the response, "We've always done it this way, and we're afraid if we asked members to make commitments, members would get mad." This clearly is a case of putting fear in front of faith, and preaching the 7 last words of a dying church: "We have always done it this way." It could be a wondered how the members of such a church could reconcile such behavior with their professed beliefs, because this practice makes it appear that the church doesn't deserve commitments. It's also worth noting that banks and other lending institutions seem to get more devotion, since church members willingly and even gratefully make commitments to secure loans for their homes or for their cars. Sometimes I ask, "How many of you would work in a job where they tell you, "We want you to work hard, but we can't tell you how much we will pay you, or even if we will pay you."? No one ever raises their hand.

Sometimes I ask if church members say, "I wouldn't want to pledge something I couldn't be sure I can give." The answer in such churches always is, " A lot of our members say that." I suggest that this approaches heresy, because it implies that the test is whether you can be sure you can give a certain amount. Only God knows exactly what you can be certain you can give. Indicating what you intend to give is a responsible way to indicate that you are committed to your church, and to enable them to estimate the level of support that they can expect in the coming year. Also, to indicate an amount that you intend to give, God willing, is an act of faith in God's abundant providing. I have found that commitments to purposes or organizations that motivate us to be better persons are good for us, as they cause us to strive to grow to reach our goals. Churches that don't ask their members to give indications of what they intend to give typically have great difficulty in growing because they aren't able to plan for additional or improved ministries. To not give the church any indication of what you intend to give is an indication that you have little faith in God's providing, and that your fear of commitment is stronger than your commitment to your church.

Often the way to break out of such unhealthy habits is to decide to not ask for pledges. I believe the word "pledge" has become poisoned for some. They believe it means a legal commitment and, if you don't keep your pledge, someone will come collecting or you ought to feel guilty for letting down the church and God. Of course no one in the church comes collecting and God is more concerned that we step out in faith. So to help churches overcome such unhealthy beliefs, and to enable these members to step out in faith, we suggest that churches remove the word "pledge" from their vocabulary. We recommend that the church ask for indications of the amounts that members will give by asking them to fill out "Letters of Intent" or to fill out "Good Faith Estimate of Giving Cards." If members say, "I don't pledge." they can be told, you don't have to make a pledge. Sometimes churches ask, "What if some members don't give what they indicate? Will we have a major shortfall in our budget." I suggest that if the church implements our process throughout the following year that there will not be a shortfall. Those members who increase their giving beyond what they indicated will more than make up for those who give less. Typically, people who give less than they indicated they would give have unanticipated crises occur, like job losses or large medical expenses. If the rest of the members understand that some members are not able to give because "sometimes life happens in the middle of your plan", they will give more to make up for those who can't keep their indications.

Now you may be asking, "If our church does ask our members to make indications of what they intend to give, what "Guideline for Giving" do you suggest?" If members are really committed and want the church to have the funds it requires to provide its ministries and services, they will want to know how much the church needs. A guarantee for failure is to inform the members of the percentage of increase in the church budget, and to ask them to increase their giving by that percentage. Those who can increase their giving by that percentage may do so, and those who can't afford to do so, of course, will not do so. There will be a shortfall at least in the amount of those members who cannot make a commitment to such an increase. The other disadvantage of this approach is that it promotes a relationship between giving and the church budget, as opposed to enabling members to realize that their giving needs to be in relation to God.

In fact the most direct indicator of our commitment to God is our level of giving. But of course from God's perspective this level of giving is not measured by the amount of the gift, but rather by the level of sacrifice in relation to one's blessings. We suggest that churches adopt a commitment to "strive to tithe" as a way to help members understand that this attitude and behavior is a way to demonstrate their faith and commitment to God. Many individuals may feel that they cannot give 10% of their income to the church. They may have gotten used to giving the church whatever is left after they pay their other expenses. That is perhaps why the average church household in the United States only gives about 2% of income to the church. We suggest that a way to begin "striving to tithe" is to ask members to increase their giving by 1% of their income for the coming year. That's a way to begin model tithing, and it gives members a way to work tithing into their personal budgets. I have always found that tithing provides great benefits to those who do so, because invariably they are happier, more confident individuals, as they have their values and financial house in order, and they know that God provides everything that we really need to be happy. In addition, encouraging tithing is a wonderful way to enable the members to give at levels where the church can afford to pay its staff a fair wage, and to provide the ministries, programs, and services that are required by its members and its community. If your members are giving around an average of 2% of their incomes, imagine the percentage of increase in your giving for the church's Operating Budget if many of them increased their giving by just 1% of their incomes! Top

 it's time to plan for a planned giving campaign

Many congregations in our churches are aging. As our American population ages, the trend is accelerating in many of our churches. This seemingly terrible problem has a potential silver lining. This circumstance provides a major opportunity for those churches to lay a strong foundation for their future.

There is a tremendous transfer of wealth going on in our country. Many of those aged members have accumulated significant assets. It is very appropriate for churches to ask those devoted members to give all or a portion of those financial blessings back to God through the church. But many churches, for a variety of reasons, are not asking. Unfortunately these churches are not offering their members a very meaningful opportunity to give or to make a bequest of their accumulated assets to a worthy organization, their church. On the other hand, if a church conducts a Planned Giving Campaign, it enables its members to realize the tax benefits of making such donations, and the church can benefit by receiving funds that can underwrite and ensure its future. Planned Giving Funds or Endowment Funds can enable your church to offer the additional and increased ministries that can enable your church to grow and to thrive.

There is the proverbial story, where a Pastor reads in the newspaper that a member of her church has made a large contribution to a university or a hospital. The Pastor approaches the member and asks, "Why didn't you give that money to the church?" The member responds, "Pastor, you never asked for it." That story is not just a proverb. It happens regularly in churches throughout our country. Pastors have told me numerous times of reading of donations from their members, when they have not received that level of support from those members.

That's why it's time for many churches to conduct a Planned Giving Campaign. As the scripture says, "Ask and you shall receive." By definition, a Planned Giving Campaign uses different processes than Operating Budget Campaigns and Capital Fund Campaigns. The manner is which members are asked for gifts, and the ways that members make those gifts, are different in Planned Giving Campaigns. Orchestrating such campaigns is an intricate undertaking.

The initial step that is essential before conducting such campaigns is to set up a vehicle for receiving assets and bequests, and a brokerage account, which can enable members to transfer assets directly to the church, so that they can benefit from tax savings for doing so. The church also needs to create a set of by-laws or rules for receiving these gifts, so that donors are guaranteed that their wishes will be followed in the distribution of the funds in the years ahead.

Because of all these complexities, it is usually best to contract for professional guidance to assist you in conducting such a campaign. As we begin this program year, it's a good time to begin to plan your Planned Giving Campaign. Top


VanderWyden Consultants provide professional fund-raising guidance to non-profit organizations and churches throughout the United States who require 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 Workshops on the dynamics of stimulating growth in membership. If you would like to meet with us, since we provide our services throughout the United States, we can be available to meet with your leadership. If your church would like to host one of our Professional Workshops for churches or non-profit organizations in your area, we can provide a discount in our services for your church.

Our staff has conducted over 350 successful campaigns throughout the United States. Our "Joy of Generosity" Capital Fund Campaign program enables churches to raise as much as 13 times existing giving levels, and our "Wyden Your Horizons" Operating Budget Stewardship program results in increases of 15 - 45%. Top


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Bill VanderWyden

Rev. P. William VanderWyden, CFRE
President VanderWyden Consultants, Inc.
Headquarters -118 Westchester Drive, Amherst, Ohio 44001
Toll-Free Phone: 888-245-5826 (888-Bill-Van)
E-mail: Bill@WydenYourHorizons. com
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