This is the third blog in a four-week series about Lake Institute on Faith & Giving’s Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising (ECRF). Each week will provide a different perspective on this course and the way it has impacted individuals and religious organizations.
By Cynthia Newman
Cynthia Newman is Minister of Clergy Economic Empowerment for the Christian Church in Indiana and Project Director for FLOURISH! She gets great joy learning new things and empowering others to live their best lives. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today, more than ever before, we have an option of whom we support with our financial gifts. In the not too distant past, many people considered the church as the primary place to which they directed their generosity. While technological advances and social media have brought the world to our doorsteps, it has opened the doors for our funds to flow away from our churches to other noble causes that are now in full view of our eyes and wallets.
Thankfully, Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, through the Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising (ECRF) course offers an answer. This program skillfully equips churches and other religious organizations to retain the vital contributions of their supporters and develop new donors in their quest to survive and thrive.
In receiving a grant through Lilly Endowment Inc. to address clergy economic challenges, the Christian Church in Indiana (DOC) created the FLOURISH! Project, which is now serving nearly 35 clergy with grants and both personal and congregational financial education. The caveat of our program is that we must raise matching funds to support our initiative. The ECRF program is a key component in helping us meet our fundraising responsibility.
Inherent in the FLOURISH! Project design is offering training to staff, board members, and church leaders (lay and clergy) in the area of fundraising and then launching these leaders to serve as trainers to our congregations at large. For the FLOURISH! Project to really be impactful, we felt that we needed to broaden the base of those in our region who are able to communicate with both our donors and with those we serve. We saw the ECRF program as pivotal to our success because fundraising is how we survive!
Training in generosity has provided excellent knowledge of building capacity to help our congregations and constituents be more generous. Whether learning of the importance of communicating a clearly defined mission, being sensitive and open to challenging the idea of obligatory giving, or learning how to thank donors in a way that keeps them coming back, Lake Institute’s course has prepared us for the task at hand.
Over the last 15 months, the Christian Church in Indiana (CCI) has matriculated 10 individuals through the program, planned attendance of an additional 15, and sponsored a mass training of our congregational leaders because we recognize that we must be equipped to connect with our donors in new and significant ways.
Belinda King, CCI board member and Assistant Vice President, Disciples Church Extension Fund stated, “This course has changed my perspective. I now get that fundraising is not always about asking for money but about developing relationships as we invite others to give.”
Rex Henthorn, attorney and CCI board member asserted, “The Lake Institute conference addressed an essential but under-serviced need of all churches, which is how to uplift in a sensitive, balanced fashion, our duty to effectively act as the hands and feet of Christ, as we offer potential donors the opportunity to express their passion and service through our cause.”
Indeed, we see this partnership as invaluable as we seek to develop generous leaders in this generation and beyond! Thank you, Lake Institute.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official views of the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.