New Year's Resolutions for Fundraisers and Church Leaders

First, my all time favorite New Year's Resolution. Mark Twain once said, "I resolve this year to live within my means. And if I have to, I will borrow money to do it."

Thinking about our work with churches and non-profits and thinking about my own life as a donor, here are my resolutions for 2016.

1. Planned giving. I wrote a big check last week to fulfill a pledge to a non-profit. I had known this pledge was due or was at least due in my mind, despite having another year to fulfill the commitment. Yet, here I was semi-scrambling to write a check that I was not completely prepared to write. What I had planned on doing was fulfilling the pledge over 18 months with equal installments. I did not set up the automatic draft, assuming I would get around to it. I never did. Not this year. I am setting up automatic withdrawals for my church contribution next week. My giving will be more planned and less haphazard in 2016.

2. Legacy Giving. More on this topic later, but I am going to learn as much as I can about estate giving this year and help churches and non-profits grow in this area. The amount of money that will be transferred from one generation to another over the next 20 years is staggering. The organizations that help people plan their estates in a God-honoring way will be blessed beyond measure.

3. Say thank you more. There is no excuse for ingratitude in churches and non-profits. Most well-run non-profits get A's for gratitude, but churches are, to be blunt, awful. We think folks are supposed to give and that excuses us from extending common courtesy. For me this means getting a list of our top 20 givers and making thank you phone calls in January. I know the top 20 donors may not be our most sacrificial givers, but it beats what most of us do which is nothing. 

4. Educate and communicate. From preaching on giving to consulting with clients, there are multiple opportunities to share what God says about the joy and responsibility of giving. I am going to do a better job letting folks know what their gifts are helping us accomplish. As a development officer client said in a recent meeting, "We have a great story. We just need to tell it." When it comes to telling, how consistently good are you? 

Those are my four. What about you?