Today’s newsletter focuses on a growing area of fundraising and non-profit giving: Giving Days. Henri Nouwen once wrote, “Fundraising is proclaiming what we believe in such a way that we offer other people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission.” In their own often tech-savvy way, Giving Days are prime opportunities for proclaiming what we believe and offering opportunities for participation in that vision. Luther Seminary launches our first Give Day tomorrow, September 28, 2016! Read more about how, why, and what God has to do with it below.
Adam Copeland, Center for Stewardship Leaders
Adam J. Copeland
It may seem strange, but one of the oft-forgotten keys to strong financial stewardship is actually asking for money. Rare is the person who wakes up in the morning and says, “Before I have that first cup of coffee, I must give away some money.” And yet, congregation and non-profit leaders sometimes sound a bit sheepish when voicing an invitation to give. Thanks to the rise of Giving Days, though, more of us have the opportunities to respond to invitations to give (and some, even, before that first cup of coffee!)
Giving Day events are organized, focused giving opportunities (usually with a specific, stated goal over a 24-hour period). Some Give Days are organized at a statewide level. Here in Minnesota, for instance, GiveMN’s annual “Give to the Max” raises millions of dollars one day each fall for non-profits in the state. At a recent Presbytery meeting, our camp director shared that last year the camp raised over $20,000 on that single GiveMN day. This year, the camp’s board of directors has matching donors lined up and a goal of $27,000.
Give Days are great opportunities for non-profits to invite a gift from a first-time donor. Dana Nelson of GiveMN also emphasizes their attraction to younger givers. On Facebook and Twitter, donors engage in conversations asking what organizations their friends have given to or even try to persuade each other to give to their favorite charities.
In church circles, we’ll sometimes use the Greek word kairos to mean, “the appropriate moment, or opportune time.” Opposed to actual clock time (or chronos) a “kairos moment” marks a particular time for reflection, discernment, and the Spirit’s action (which often defies the clock). In a strange way, then, Giving Days make the space for a kairos moment, even as they’re marked by actual minutes and hours. By calling out a specific opportunity — and time — to give, organizations focus donors’ attention. Giving Days function as a kairos moments for asking and receiving.
Tomorrow, Wednesday Sept 28, 2016, Luther Seminary will be hosting our first Give Day! We hope to meet our goal of 500 gifts. Our website and social media channels will be humming, ready to receive gifts from old friends and new donors alike.
A network of about 100 social media ambassadors (myself included) will be sharing, tagging, liking, and commenting in our networks using the hashtag #LutherSemGive. As we do so, we’ll be telling the story of Luther Seminary’s mission using its most inspiring element: our graduates, who will post photos of themselves with signs showing how they lead, encourage, support growth in ministry, and give to the campaign themselves.
It’s a first for us (so pray for the web team), and I’m both excited and hopeful for a successful day. Several on-campus events will also take place in conjunction with Give Day so that students can consider asking for gifts in congregations, learn ways to say thank you, and center the entire experience in God, the ultimate Giver.
Give Days in Congregations
I have known some congregations to take part in GiveMN, or in their city’s or state’s Give Day. I doubt that most congregations, however, will have the resources to launch a robust Give Day themselves. In many cases, I suspect their energies would best be directed at year-round stewardship, theologically framing our approach to money, and other stewardship basics these newsletters emphasize.
But Give Days are still fairly new practices, so who knows, maybe ten years from now we may have discovered more interesting, sustainable applications for Give Days and congregations. For now, though, it may be enough to appreciate the opportunities for giving they offer our members beyond the congregation, encouraging them to support God’s work beyond our walls. And, of course, we can give!
Adam Copeland is the Director for Stewardship Leadership at Luther Seminary.
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