Fund Raising Realities Every Board Member Must Face: A One-Hour Crash Course on Raising Major Gifts for Nonprofit Organizations

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by David Lansdowne (Emerson & Church Publishers, 2007)

Review by David F. Johnson, retired associate for stewardship resources for the Presbyterian Church (USA)

Fundraising in the church mostly turns me off. The reason? I feel that giving to the church should be a natural response to the free gift of grace given to us by God. The problem with this is that generosity is not that simple. I suspect most church members are still not fully convinced of God’s grace. That’s an enormous generality, but it may explain why church leaders need the advice of an expert on fundraising.

What I found helpful in this book were the necessary prerequisites that must be in place if a fund drive is to be successful. These prerequisites should be present in a healthy church.

The first chapter is titled “The Mission Must Be Defined.” Each church or fund drive needs a clear vision, a mission around which all members rally and which they are very willing to support.

I get frustrated working with nonprofits that think they should be able to raise great amounts of money but that have not cultivated a constituency. Does that sound familiar when it comes to church growth and cultivation? Something that the author says in one chapter echoes that sentiment: “Individuals are the target.” In other words, if you don’t have the individuals, you don’t have people who give.

In the chapter “A Match Must Be Made” the author says: “Know as much as you can about your prospect.” In that area the church should have it all over a secular non-profit: it should be a given that church people know each other well.

Each chapter of this book is just two pages long. It might be a good exercise to read a chapter at the beginning of each stewardship committee meeting (along with Scripture). Then members could discuss how the chapter is relevant to the committee’s responsibility.

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