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Development and Vision

What's your vision of the future?

Is there vision in your organization?  Does your leader look to the future?  I love Bill Hybels' definition of vision: "Vision is a picture of the future that produces passion."

In the world of development and stewardship it is important to remember this truism – People give to the future, not the past. The past only earns you the right to ask again.

So how do we combine this definition of vision with the development truism?  Here is my best answer - People want to know where your organization is going. And then they will give.

They will give to something in the future that is going to accomplish something.  Your past is not worthy of a steward's investment. They do not see value in giving to an organization "just because they did some good in the past".  It is all about the future.

So how can the development officer communicate vision to the steward?

Here are a few ideas for you to consider as you share your vision with your donors during the first part of the new year.

  1. What are the needs/people that your organization is meeting? Have they changed? Have new needs/people come to your attention? Have your programs responded accordingly? In other words, if the "front lines" of your ministry has had some changes, then your donors need to know this. Present it in a way that challenges them, encourages them, and yes, even concerns them.
  2. Create a picture of the future that produces passion! Make sure YOU get excited about the new year's ministry and work. Before you can write a letter, newsletter article, or speak to a group, you as the development officer must be passionate about the new year.  People will be touched, lives changed, the hungry fed, and hope will be given to many people. Maybe it will be next door in your neighborhood, but it could be in your entire city, your region, or yes, the entire world! If you cannot get excited about it, there is a problem in your cause.
  3. Create some "talking points" that spell out your vision for this year. Make sure everyone agrees to these points whether it is the board, the key staff, or the program staff on the front lines. Everyone must be saying the same thing about the vision for this year.
  4. Your consistent, focused communication of the vision will be understood and "felt" by your stewards. They will sense the direction you are going, with focus, clarity, and passion. And they will give.

As you communicate to your stewards remember they WANT to give. So show them the way, get them passionate and guide them to the front lines that are changing lives. Invite them to participate in their prayers, volunteering, and giving.

May your new year's vision be passionate and compelling!  Where are you going?


Dr. John R. Frank, CFRE, CCNL