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Seeing Beyond 2020

Jan 08, 2021

Two days before Christmas of 2020, I awoke to several flashes of light off to the left.  As my eyes adjusted to the light in the room, I noticed that I couldn't clear the fog from my left eye.  Trying to make out the fine print of my NIV was impossible, and quickly brought about a big fat headache....AND real fear of a retinal detachment.

By mid-morning, an optometrist had ruled out anything threatening.  "But, that flash of light did create a large floater, and it couldn't possibly be in a more problematic spot".  My vitreous had launched a giant cobweb into the dead center of my left eye.  She promised me some headaches in the near term.  But eventually, time and gravity would pull it away from my direct field of vision.  She reassured, "Soon, you will learn to see around it."

In the blink of an eye, I had my own metaphor for 2020. A pandemic arrived overnight. In a flash, it clouded the world's ability to see anything clearly. It's ...

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Strategy when the Stakes are High

Jul 26, 2020

Who could have anticipated all the big decisions you've been making lately?  The sand feels like it's constantly shifting beneath your feet.

Who'd have figured it would be a crisis that would catapult your organization's mission to essential status? Your people need  you walking alongside them now more than ever.

Who wants to imagine even the possibiity that the ministries that mean the most to you might not survive the times?  No one.  But people much smarter than me are predicting nonprofit closure rates - best case scenario is  7%, worst case is half, and most probable is 1 out of 4.

The stakes are high.

Think about the big decisions you've had to make since March.  Are they intentional choices about your ministry's future? Or have you just been reacting to every new emergency? Are you making strategic choices? Or are you plugging holes in a dam? 

Chances are, few of the major choices you've made in recent months were informed by...

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Faith & Philanthropy in a Time of Crisis

Mar 25, 2020
It’s not what you were expecting. Now what? The capital campaign. Your weekly offerings. A fundraising gala. The spring appeal. Your recognition event. A large gift about to close. A pandemic pushed the pause button on your best laid plans, and your momentum for ministry tumbled with the stock market.
 
If it didn’t feel like Lent before, it does now. Is this a taste of the disappointment that Jesus’ disciples felt? They passionately believed that the Messiah would rescue them from Roman oppression. Instead Jesus was crucified, and all their hopes were buried with Him in a tomb. Jesus’ death wasn’t in their plans.
 
With an economy in freefall and your best laid fundraising plans for 2020 teetering on irrelevance, what’s next?
 
Right now, your leadership and ministry is more important than it’s ever been. No matter your mission, your ability to walk alongside God’s people during these days is essential....
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One COVID 19 Thing your Church is Forgetting

Mar 13, 2020
Your church's COVID 19 announcements have been carefully prepared and emailed. But they're missing one critical thing...the invitation to your members to "be there" with their support even if they won't be there at worship.
 
Drops in worship attendance wreak havoc on church revenues. Most congregations still rely too heavily on the offering plate. Just one good Minnesota blizzard has reduced a month's income by 25%.
 
While you're taking the appropriate social distancing precautions, I'm sure you've already started asking "What impact will COVID 19 have on my congregation's budget?"
 
If you haven't heard much good news lately, here's some...churches are the LEAST likely of nonprofits to be negatively impacted during times of economic downturn. People of faith typically consider their congregation to be their highest charitable priority. But you'd be the foolish steward to take this faithful generosity for granted right now.
 
If your church is...
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Congregational Giving Best Practices

Oct 09, 2019
It’s here! And maybe only ‘church nerds’ like me will care! But if your congregation’s future matters to you, keep reading…
 
The Lake Institute on Faith and Giving has just released its National Study of Congregations’ Economic Practices (NSCEP). If you want to learn how America’s churches are receiving, managing, and spending their money, this summary report covers the waterfront. I was SO hoping that this report would uncover more BEST practices on money and ministry. Unfortunately, we know too many churches with BAD practices on money. Assuming that those habits have also been accounted for in this study, it’s wise to look at this initial report as a survey and NOT a play book for getting your church money house in order. The Lake Institute has promised to report on the factors that lead to growth or decline in future publications.
 
But in my impatience to equip ministry leaders with philanthropy’s...
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Legacy Lessons from a Librarian

Jul 23, 2019
 
She wanted to talk about her death! Really? My adult life was just getting started.
She was exuberant about a large estate gift. And I was timid to invite a modest $1000? "Ms A" was a librarian, and my textbook case for how to start a bequest conversation.
 
Why are we so hesitant to have gift conversations? After all, we don't have a Legacy Giving program without gifts. We can't move the needle on ministry without gifts. But this is usually where we get stuck.
 
The third key to Legacy Giving is GIFTS. In this video, I introduce you to "Ms A", and two steps that generate momentum - Discovering Existing Gifts and Inviting New Gifts. I also introduce you to the most common characteristics of a planned giving donor. I'm confident you'll come away with your most likely legacy givers already in mind.
 
If you're ready to learn more, our Legacy Giving Basics course includes an entire library of tools and resources for your use. Learn more about this...
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Three Gifts that will Revolutionize your Fundraising

Jul 19, 2019
 
I'm embarrassed to admit it. I snuck out of my first planned giving seminar. I wanted to run. After just twenty minutes of being pummeled with terminology, techniques, and tax-talk, I managed to avoid gift planning conversations for the first several years of my career. What a loss - for the donors and ministries I served, and for ME. Oh, the gift conversations I could have had if I'd known just a few, basic, simple things!
 
In this Leaders Academy video, I interview Dana Holt on the second key to Legacy Giving - EDUCATION. Together we explore:
 
– what you DO need to know and DON'T need to know about planned giving
- the three simplest ways that donors can make gifts from assets
- the role that professional advisors can play in educating and helping your donors
 
Don't make the mistake I made in my youth. Don't miss your opportunity to learn the few simple things that will help you move the needle on your ministry. Don't miss the opportunity to...
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Whitewater Rafting without a Guide

Jul 12, 2019
 
I'll never forget my first whitewater rafting trip as a church youth leader. In faith, I agreed to lead the voyage, not even knowing what I didn't know. If it weren't for our guide, I am sure we'd have died.
 
Legacy Giving can look like whitewater. It can be intimidating at first glance. But it doesn't need to be. Most ministry leaders just need a guide who can help them learn the basics.
 
The second key to Legacy Giving is EDUCATION. In this video, I introduce the basics behind two steps -Leader Education and Donor Education.
 
If you've been afraid to pick up your paddle and start a planned giving program, this is your chance to get wet and experience the joy of the journey. Our Legacy Giving Basics course can be your guide.
Learn more about this online program here.
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The Second Happiest People on the Planet

Jul 08, 2019
 
"When we give leadership for Legacy Giving, we're inviting God's people into a vision, a mission, and a life of discipleship."
 
In this Leaders Academy video, I interview Pastor Larry Strenge on the first key to Legacy Giving - LEADERSHIP. Together we explore:
 
- some of the ways that Legacy Giving has led to congregational transformation
- some of the problems and solutions he's witnessed with Legacy Giving leadership
- wisdom from scripture we can use to lead faithfully on the subject of legacy giving
- how legacy giving can play a role in leading us into a more hopeful future for ministry
 
 
AND check out the Legacy Giving Basics Online Course. I am offering this comprehensive set of resources so you can lead on Legacy Giving with competence and confidence.
 
 
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Two Champions, A Purpose & Legacy Giving Leadership

Jun 28, 2019
 
Unfortunately, legacy or planned giving can be complicated and overwhelming. But, for most church and ministry organization leaders, it doesn't need to be. You just need to know the basics.
 
No surprise, the first key to Legacy Giving is LEADERSHIP. In this video, I introduce the first two steps in the Legacy Giving process - Governance Approval and Work Group Establishment.
 
If you're a champion with a purpose, the Legacy Giving Basics program can help you learn what you need to know to get a program off the ground and invite generous donors to give in this unique and wonderful way!
 
Learn more about this program here.
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