2011- Big Tent: Relationships and listening, Enright offers tips for fund-raising

INDIANAPOLIS (PNS) Fund-raising can be reduced to “two simple
words, relationships and listening,” Bill Enright told the Presbyterian
Communicators Network at its gathering July at the Big Tent here.

Enright, director of the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving at the Center on
Philanthropy at Indiana University, said that everyone knows a great deal of
knowledge and understanding are needed to build relationships and hear the
needs of donors.

Enright said that with charitable giving declining, a “donor-centered world”
makes up today’s fundraising environment. He pointed out a need to
connect with donor aspirations, adding, “It’s clear we can’t be all things to

He said churches need to clarify their mission. Successful fundraisers, he
said, make sure their values match those of their potential donors. They also
need to “reframe their priorities and rethink their strategic plans” to make
sure they align with those of their donors.

While Enright is convinced that most forms of giving are spiritually
motivated, he said most giving is no longer directed solely at religious
organizations. Donors, he said, “are in relationship with God through the
institutions they support.”

Communication also has a substantial role in raising funds. “We have
trouble talking about money. When we do talk about it, it tends to happen
about once a year,” he said. “We in the church need to get over our
skittishness about money talk.”

He said, “We need to do a better job of telling our story. Stories, not
statistics, make the difference.”

Organizations that have been able to improve their fundraising
provide “diversified giving opportunities,” and, he said, “They know how to
say thank you.”

‘When Enright asked how many in the room had received a thank-you note
from their church for their financial contribution, only a few hands went up.

The gifts are there, Enright said, but “we have to be willing to change some
of our ways.”

Duane Sweep is associate for communications in the Synod of Lakes
and Prairies. He is covering the Presbyterian Communicators Network
Conference at Big Tent for PNS.