Transformational fundraising takes a long time.
Urgency is the enemy of fundraising.
— Eileen Savage, J Paul Getty Trust
Many boards hire fundraising staff in a drought
and expect them to make it rain the next day.
— Joan Baumgartner Brown
— Jon’s High School Latin Teacher
When I coach our 19 Lutheran schools on fundraising or present to school leaders around the country, I try to impress upon those new to fundraising that it takes time to create a systematic, successful fundraising program. You can’t just run out and make things happen; this is why many organizations see fundraising as a “shotgun” approach, or as one former local principal would say, “Let’s throw several things on the wall and see what sticks.”
On the contrary, we first must work on the following basics:
- Decide what are the goals of the school
- What are its resources (staff, time, and budget)
- Who will own the process (who will be ultimately responsible for implementation)
- How do they define a major gift
- Do they have a list of needs and wants
- Can we create a 12-month fundraising plan
- and Can we create a model of our constituency based on Link, Interest, and Ability
However hard it may seem, we do have some local success stories as schools Catch the Lutheran Spirit through fundraising and are now seeing the benefits. Consider below just a few of the many examples:
- St. Peter-Immanuel Lutheran School, Decatur: through systematic planning and improvement of their annual gala, over the past 6-7 years they have gone from nearly losing money on their event to netting over $50,000 a year for their school.
- Holy Cross Lutheran School, Fort Wayne: through the efforts of an estate planning committee a decade ago, the school is receiving at least one bequest gift a year that is allowing them to meet their endowment match challenge as well as other needs.
- Lutheran South Unity School, Fort Wayne: after hiring (thanks to a grant from The Lutheran Foundation) a Director of Advancement three years ago, they continue to receive more donations during the year than the year previous.
- St. John Emmanuel Lutheran School, Monroeville: I just sat down with their principal recently and helped him draft a plan of action to begin their fundraising growth based on the 7 points listed above. Look for some movement here in the next couple of years!
So, encourage your school to Catch the Lutheran Spirit with a fundraising plan. I’m here to help in any way.