Vision Ownership Accelerates Generosity

Leadership // July 28, 2011

The importance of people understanding your ministry vision and mission can never be understated. Prior to asking for any kind of support (prayer support, volunteer support, and financial support) you must help people grasp the enormity of your vision, and how the funding of that vision will make a difference in the lives of those you are trying to reach.

I was with a faith-based non-profit client this past weekend, leading a group of their high capacity givers (and potential givers) through a retreat experience designed to build ownership around the ministry’s mission. Many of those in attendance were already supporters of the ministry, but greater giving potential was still untapped.

A few in attendance were new to the non-profit. This was to be their first exposure to the mission.

Our primary goal was to share the history, mission, ministry successes, and vision for the future.

We started with dinner on Friday evening, and concluded the retreat with lunch early Saturday afternoon. The purpose of the retreat was NOT to ask for money.

There were devotionals, testimonies, life change stories, videos, times of praise and worship led by an excellent team, brainstorming sessions, and times of sharing by all those in attendance.

The weekend served to start conversations with these high capacity donors. This was to help them see the magnificence that their financial support was creating in the lives of those the ministry serves.

The stories were amazing. Many who attended have known the non-profit for years, but never really knew the history or how the mission started.

Others were totally unaware of all the ministry did to accomplish its mission. Most had no idea of the potential that exists for greater impact, as the organization follows God’s leading to expand over the coming years.

So we did all we could to help cast that vision. At the conclusion of the event, a regular contributor approached the executive director, and requested a meeting first thing Monday morning. He went on to say that he wanted to increase his giving over the next three years from $150,000 to $1,000,000.

Again, we were not asking for money here. We did not ask for any kind of financial commitment. That’s coming – it is in the plan – but this was not the time to ask.

Yet the impact of the weekend experience, coupled with the undeniable successes the ministry was able to share through numerous examples, motivated this donor to act.

He sensed the immediacy, the urgency of the vision as it was presented. The vision is compelling and he decided to take much greater ownership in that vision.

There are many ways to build ownership in your people. The most important thing is to craft a strategy that is appropriate and timely for your situation.

This experience works well in the right situation, and is appropriate for churches and non-profit ministries. Relationships are critical!

As I engaged with this client, we spent hours reviewing many possible strategies before implementing this weekend experience. It’s not just a matter of planning an event, inviting donors, and expecting large gifts to come in. There is so much more to it than that.

So what’s up this weekend? A second retreat with another group of high capacity donors as we lead them on a journey to build greater ownership of the vision. We’re just getting started!

How can I help you build vision ownership in your people? Please contact me if you would like to explore the possibilities.

About Rusty Lewis

As a church leader, there’s nothing more frustrating than not having the funding to do what God’s calling you to do. But when you think about trying to address that problem, you feel overwhelmed, you dread the potential pushback from your congregation, and you’re not sure where to turn for help. Over the last 18 years, I’ve helped more than 120 churches close the gap between their current financial reality and what they need to move forward in ministry.

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