Doing Nothing vs. Doing Something

I subscribe to a periodic blog, Future Fundraising Now. A few years ago there was an entry on Fundraising Predictions. One of the five predictions was titled, “Doing Nothing Will Not Be Less Risky.” I would like to explore that with our area Lutheran schools.

Indeed, keeping the status quo is always easier. Fundraising has not been a long tradition for most of our schools. It has been referred to as “third-source funding” for a reason: schools first relied on their congregations for support (and still do!) “Second-source” funding then came from tuition and fees charged to families to help cover the increasing cost of education. Then came fundraising, but in many cases, it was equated to bake sales, the Scrip counter, and car washes.

However, most school leadership knew there had to be something better, but maybe “next year”. With long board meetings, overworked teachers, and enrollment worries, focusing on fundraising was just too risky in time and effort to take the plunge.

Then came Indiana School Choice and the SGO program. Other than a periodic building campaign or a pew appeal for a new boiler, for most schools, there has never been a catalyst like the SGO Scholarship program to usher a change in fundraising thinking. For the first time, there was an identifiable, quantifiable reason to begin a systematic, annual giving program. In other words, it was time to jump into the fundraising water. Families needed scholarships, donors loved the state tax credit, and new students loved our schools. Fundraising could result in Catching the Lutheran Spirit.

However, some schools were slow to adopt SGO promotional activities; after all, it did involve the government, didn’t it? As they sat on the sidelines and didn’t do anything, those schools that jumped into the SGO pool with both feet saw early success that continues to grow as more donors participate and existing donors give more every year.

Looking back nearly three years since this prediction was made, I think we can stamp this prediction as TRUE. While Doing Nothing may always be an option, when your donors exclaim, “I went from owing state tax to receiving a refund; I’m giving more next year!”, sometimes stepping out into the water may not be such a bad idea.

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