October 1st, 2014

Getting Million Dollar Ready

light image 1Every pastor dreams of what it would be like to receive a financial gift that would transform the future of the church. For many large institutions, a legacy gift or transformative gift is considered to be $1,000,000 or more. A recent study conducted by Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates and Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, focused its attention not on motivations of the key donor, but the characteristics of the non-profit institutions that receive large gifts. (Here is a link to the report if you are interested.) I took the time to review the research and convert the learnings into the church world. I have been a part of many capital projects that have received million dollar gifts. It may not surprise you that I have seen them come from long time members with a deep relationship to the pastor, church, and community. However, I have also seen more than one come from non-members, new members, and non-resident members.

Most of the pastors I work with under-estimate the potential of people to be extra-ordinarily generous. When you are wired and able to give, you actually enjoy the opportunity when it is presented. You may be saying that a million dollar gift is not in your sights. However, I promise that there are people that you know that are waiting to be more generous than you ever imagined. Please take the time to review my thoughts and step out in faith to create a culture that is ready for a transforming gift.

Just in case you still do not think this content may be for you. I recently visited with a young pastor in a medium size church in a small town. A year after Auxano completed a capital campaign with his church with a strategic focus on key leaders, he reported this finding. At the end of this calendar year their number #1 giver would have previously not been on their top 25 donor list. Not only has this family become the lead donor, but they are now volunteering for key leadership positions in the church. Previously, he was a fan, now he is a serious player in the mission. How many people like this might exist in your church?

Here are the findings that I think you will find important.

1. A long tenured pastor increases the opportunity for a transformative gift.

Relationship, security, and integrity over time are everything to a key donor. The long-term pastor that is able to consistently articulate a powerfully clear vision that connects both the passions of the donor and the results of their donation is critical. Most churches do not have a vision that is clear enough, consistent enough, or large enough to engage a big thinker.

It may surprise you to learn that most high capacity leaders find it very difficult to connect in a significant way to the vision of the local church. They have big dreams and unique passions that are not easily channeled through common church leadership structures. They also have very specific passions. A key donor will give a tip when asked, but they will release a flood when engaged via their passion.

I firmly believe that every lead pastor needs to have a list of 10-50 high capacity leaders that he consistently engages in a mutually meaningful discipleship relationship. This ministry will result in learning that goes two ways, increasing both the confidence of the pastor and transforming leader.

2. A church that has a demonstrated track record for success.

Waste, failure, inconsistency, or lack of clarity hurts churches more than you may realize. I regularly sit in church finance and leadership meetings with lay people who are frustrated by financial mismanagement. It typically revolves around historic church loyalties that over fund ineffective ministries, regularly over spend, or do not have solid practices tying expenses to results. Nothing will chase away a transforming leader like failure, laziness, and incompetence.

3. A senior leader with a clear vision that is easily transferable and calls for actionable support.

A powerfully clear and engaging vision should be tightly aligned with ministry direction, programming priorities, and staff accountability. Remember that key leaders exist in the business world and are held to a high standard of productivity. They are also consistently solicited by significant non-profits for support. You have real competition and a standard by which you are measured.

Learn to be a strong organizational leader. Have a clear vision, align your priorities, spend wisely, and demonstrate results.

Please click here to be taken to the last findings.

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