Archive for the ‘value’ Category

Yesterday, I talked about how technology can bridge the accountability gap that separates donors from beneficiaries, and in the post I shared that I would write 3 blogs showing how such examples can be used. This is the first of three posts.

Have you ever experienced listening to a member of  a church, or nonprofit organization, who can’t clearly articulate the mission or the impact of the organization?

Maybe the experience came as a friend asked you to donate money to support a charity. Or maybe, it happened when someone invited you to church, or as a friend described why they volunteers their time.

In many cases, these experiences are awkward attempts to tell the story of an organization. However, because most of these stories are told by volunteers or members, they often miss the true power of sharing the core mission and impact of an organization.

Given this experience, many organizations are now turning to technology to help them to:

  1. Tell the Story- Using their own words and images (pictures, blogs, videos, etc) (more…)

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If the economic recession has taught nonprofits anything, it is the need to have multiple income streams to help stabilize income and operations.

Prior to 2008, many congregations and small nonprofits lived on the receipts of their donors.  In strong economic years, this is not a problem- income is up and thus donations were up.  However, the same cycle is disastrous  when the nation’s economy falls- income goes down and thus donations fall.

Given this boom- bust cycle, it is smart to look at how nonprofit and church organizations can stabilize their income. Every context is different, but the diagram below provides a general outline of how to create multiple income streams:

Diagram showing annual fund income sources

Multiple Income Streams

The above model presents the type of incomes that many small nonprofits already receive:

  • Donations to the  annual fund are usually the largest of these sources (typically over 50%) (more…)

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I was recently visiting a church to assist them with some financial planning, and during my visit I asked them two questions:

  1. What is your niche ministry and mission?
  2. If I asked someone who is (name of org) how would they answer?

In response to the first question, the leaders had a difficult time naming who they were as a congregation and what they saw their specific ministry as (think uncomfortable silence). In response to the second question, the leaders were almost unanimous in saying, “People would ask you, ‘Who is that?'”

Not it could be easy to criticize this church, but in my experience, they are not alone. In almost 60-70% of the churches and other nonprofits I visit, I ask the same questions and I get the same responses.   For what ever reasons, many organizations have lost their focus on the mission that they provide.

In a recent paper, Success by Design: How R&D Activates Program Innovation and Improvement in the Nonprofit Sector, by Peter York, I found a similar reflection about designing a mission and program based on actual impacts. (more…)

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This is a Guest Blog by Matthew Harris-Gloyer.

I’ve been frequenting Kansas City coffee shops as of late because I have found that I do not work well at home.  I do not have an office to write in so coffee shops have become my ‘work space.’  I like one particular coffee shop on the KC plaza.  They play music I like and there is interesting art on the walls that is switched regularly.  There are often people in there for similar reasons as I: study, typing, business conversations, theology students trying out pastoral care.  The atmosphere is just right for me.  The energy is right for me to focus and to get stuff done.

One thing that I noticed this morning as I was ordering and then paying for my coffee and cinnamon muffin was that I put down a tip for the barista (that’s the beougois name for workers in a coffee shop).  The fact that I tipped was not novel.  What was interesting to me was the revelation of why I tipped.  I was initially encouraged to tip because of the service that I received.  The barista offered to warm up my muffin, asked if I wanted dark or light roast (dark, of course!) and room for cream in my coffee.  I thought to myself, “This is great!  I feel listened to and appreciated as an individual.”  Yet, what sealed the deal was the smile that I received at the hand off, when the coffee passed from the barista’s hand to mine.  At that moment, I felt my ‘heart strangely warmed.’  I felt the holiness of human recognition and experienced a communion of spirit.

As I sat down, I sipped my cafe caliente and the cynic emerged.  Was the smile simply the manifestation of a corporate-capitalist and profit-focused marketing policy to bribe customers into subsidizing the barista’s meager salary?  Was I simply paying for coffee and a muffin?  Or, was I also paying for a smile? (more…)

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This is a Guest Blog by Matthew Harris-Gloyer.

My wife is a pastor.  That’s right, I am a pastor’s husband.  It is a role reversal from what is traditionally considered.  My experience as a pastor’s husband is becoming more prevalent in the Church that is experiencing more women in ministry as ordained clergy.  Consequently, there are more men who are experiencing the joys and challenges of being a pastor’s spouse.  How the Church and church members respond to this emerging situation is important to me and, I believe, is important to the Church.  One important aspect is how the Church supports pastors and their spouses.  This support will play a role in whether or not I (and other couples) continue in ministry and consequently whether the Church will live into its gospel mission to bring the Good News to the ends of the earth.  For, the ends of the earth begins at our own doorstep and even within our own communities.  I put it this way: The Church’s biblical calling to care for all of creation begins with its care of congregants and pastors. (more…)

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This past weekend, I attended the 2011 General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) church.  This event is the collective gathering of the denomination to worship, learn, share, and to conduct the general business of the church.

Lori Adams speaking

Hope Partnership Dinner

It was a great event and it helped to refuel my soul for the ministry that I provide for local congregations and their leaders.  Thank you so much!



From my time at Assembly, I thought I would share these news stories and links:

Additional Videos can be found at www.disciples.org/GeneralAssembly/Video/

It was a great assembly. Thank you to all who participated and to the many leaders who made it such a success!

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A recent study entitled, “Making Money Sacred: How Two Church Cultures Translate Mundane Money into Distinct Sacralized Frames of Giving,  shares two stories about how the act of giving was transformed into a sacred practice.

Church Offering


In the study, the researches tracked how members in two different churches participated in the act of giving, as it related to a sacred and spiritual act.  One church was an evangelical Protestant church and the other was a mainline Protestant church.  In both cases, researches found that the act of giving was sacred, however, they also found that they were vastly different in their approaches, motivations and understanding of self- sacrificial giving.

Researches found:

  • In the Evangelical congregation- “the act of giving itself – the giving of God’s money – was sacred; the focus was on the individual and a personal spiritual life”
  • In the Mainline congregation- “what the money did – the difference it made in accomplishing God’s work – was sacred , reflecting a more utilitarian focus on the outcome of giving.

This study and research may not be new for religious leaders to hear, but as I read about this research, I realized that it does have larger implications for the expectations of donors.  As church leaders talk about giving as a spiritual act, they help to define the paradigm of giving.

In the case of the Evangelical congregation, the act of giving is an act of spiritual discipline that comes out of a response of grace and call of duty. In contrast, the act of giving in the Mainline congregation is more about impacting the world, and less about duty.  It follows the more conventional wisdom about giving in America and it sets up a larger expectation about accountability and outcomes.

This is a great study to reflect common practices in American’ congregations, but I would also say that giving is not so segregated into two positions. In most cases, the act of giving, and its motivation, tend to be multi-layered and unique to each person and organization.

For more information about this report, please read the report (use the link above) or visit the Lake Institute’s website, for other reviews and information about giving.

Blog Notes: This study was published by the Oxford Journal: Sociology of Religion and the quotes were take from the Lake Institute’s June newsletter, which is linked above.

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Everyone jokes that churches take a long time to make a decision.  One pastor even called it ‘Glacial.’

But, the real reason that churches often take so much time is because they use a ‘consensus model’ of decision making.

Unlike a business, which takes a quick vote or follows the boss’s lead, churches like to give everyone the chance to speak, discuss, and then work towards a common solution.  This deliberative method is great for helping a group come to a common decision, but it can be slow.

So how should churches consider a project that needs to be timely, like say a building project?

Well, the best option is to have a two-fold approach:

  1. An Input and Sharing Session (more…)

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Are you a church leader looking for a ways to increase your knowledge about church finance, management, fundraising and stewardship?

If so, I would encourage you to participate in the Stewardship Academy in Nashville, TN on July 8th.

The one day academy is being sponsored by the Office of Faith and Giving, and it is being headlined by:

  • Dr. Sharon Watkins
  • Dr. Stephanie Crowder
  • Dr. Frank Thomas
  • Rev. Bruce Barkhauer
  • Dr. Richard Lower
  • Rev. Bill Thomas
  • Rev. Martha Grace Reese
  • Rev. Marily Fiddmont

I will also plan to make an appearance and the cost for the event is only $75.

For more information, check out this flyer .

You can also register at https://docgeneralassembly.webconnex.com/cfgsa11


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On Sunday I read an article in the NYT that struck me, because it connected the two issues of ‘Climate Change‘ and ‘Food Productivity.’

The article is entitled, “Extreme Weather Helps Drive Up Food Prices,” by Elisabeth Rosenthal, and it highlights how extreme weather conditions over the past year have lead to higher food and grain prices.

The article begins by sharing that the Food Price Index has hit a record high, 214, compared to its history since it was established by the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization in 1990.

For example, here are a list of major events that have hurt food production:

  • Russian wheat crops destroyed by drought and high summer temperatures
  • Pakistan’s flooding wiping out crop production
  • Laos and Cambodia- low crop yields due to a lack of rain
  • Australian drought, lack of rain, and then flooding
  • United States early flooding in 2011- lack of early planting and spring harvest

Beyond just the statistics and science of this conversation, this article highlights the compounding issues of food security, global development, food production, and environmental stewardship.  Each one of these issues is a problem in itself, but combined these issues multiply the effect and impact.

As faith communities, and local churches in the USA, we often do not consider these issues, unless we live or work in a community that is directly impacted by something like the current floods in the midwest (more…)

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