Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Church Staffs Just Wanna Have Fun

One of the many legends about Google as a work environment is the different places they created for their staffs to have fun. It's not just work at work, there is some fun involved, too - by design. The folks at Google (and tons of other companies) realize that employees need to have their brains stimulated in new and creative ways, the staff need to decompress even during the work day, and they need do things together so that they can bond and bind together as a team. Coming to work, doing just work, going home and then repeating that ad naseum creates a workplace that can lead to employee burnout.

Here's a solution for churches:
  • Allocate $1,000 from your church budget to be spent $250 each quarter (feel free to allocate more, it just depends on the size of your staff)
  • Divide your staff into four groups and assign each group a quarter of the year.
  • Each group is tasked with finding something fun, creative, and new for the staff to do and they've got a budget of $250. It may cost a little more and then each staff person might have to chip in a couple of bucks, but try very, very hard to not make this an expense for the staff.
  • Find one day each quarter when the church is closed for a "staff development day" (if you can only do a half day, that is okay, too)
  • Then, close the church, put a volunteer on the switchboard, and go have fun. Once you do this a few times, it will begin to change the way the staff interacts with each other. They will recall fun times, goofs by each other and themselves, etc.
  • This will create memories that are NOT church or work related. The staff will have something to talk about other than work. This will create a much healthier work environment.
Here are some suggestions:
  • Bowling
  • Painted pottery
  • Movies
  • Tour of a local historical site
  • Team Hide & Seek in a mall
  • Paintball
  • Ropes course
  • Kayaking or canoeing
  • Frisbee golf
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Raking leaves for a shut-in
  • Habitat for Humanity home build
You get the idea. Some of these ideas are free; some are not; all are beyond the walls of the church. Some are outside the comfort zone of a few staff; none are difficult; all are different.

Go have FUN with your staff!

Lead On!


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Stop Charity & Benevolence

Charity: the voluntary giving of help, typically money, to those in need.
Benevolence: An inclination to perform kind, charitable acts

Too often people are charitable and benevolent because they a need and want to help meet that need. They give money to fight homelessness, hunger, poverty, illiteracy, illness, etc. All these gifts are well-intentioned - no one gives because they are mean-spirited.

However, I do wonder at the motivation of the gift. Some gifts are given in order to receive a tax write off. Some gifts are made in order to look good in the eyes of others. Some gifts are more personal because of a family member's situation.

To me, it seems that charity and benevolence is done from a desire to attack the cause of a condtion. Don't get me wrong, I don't like the causes of hunger, poverty, illiteracy, etc. any more than anyone else. I find them despicable and wish they were eliminated. However, I do wish that the reason people were generously-minded was from a philanthropic viewpoint.

Philanthropy: The effort or inclination to increase the well-being of humankind, as by charitable aid or donations (from the Greek: philo = love and anthropos = man)

Before you say this is "just semantics" and that philanthropy is the same as charity or benevolence, think about the motivation for giving. Philanthropy is done because you want to help a person whereas charity is cause-related. If benevolence is to fight homelessness, philanthropy seeks to work with "Mike" or "Susie" to find them a place to live and to address the situation that made Mike or Susie homeless in the first place. Charity is about giving left-over clothes or money so that an organization can do something to meet a need. Philanthropy is about you getting personally involved because you love people as individuals, not as causes or charities.

Jesus didn't come to be charitable or benevolent. Jesus came because He loves humanity and wanted to get personally involved in our situation, to get his hand dirty in our mess, and to face us in the muck and mire in which we had gotten ourselves. This was about human love.

Here is another way to categorize charity versus philanthropy. It comes from the 12th century Jewish philosopher Maimonides who wrote the Eight Levels of Giving:
  1. A man gives, but is glum when he gives. This is the lowest degree of all.
  2. A man gives with a cheerful countenance, but gives less than he should.
  3. A man gives, but only when asked by the poor.
  4. A man gives without having to be asked, but gives directly to the poor who know therefore to whom they are indebted, and he, too, knows whom he has benefited.
  5. A man places his donation in a certain place and then turns his back so that he does not know which of the poor he has benefited, but the poor man knows to whom he is indebted.
  6. A man throws the money into the house of a poor man. The poor man does not know to whom he is indebted, but the donor knows whom he has benefited.
  7. A man contributes anonymously to the charity fund that is then distributed to the poor. Here the poor man does not know to whom he is indebted, neither does the donor know whom he has benefited.
  8. Highest of all is when money is given to prevent another from becoming poor, as by providing him with a job or by lending him money to tide him over a difficult period. There is no charity greater than this becasue it prevents poverty in the first instance.
Lead On!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tips for Working with Grant-Making Foundations

  • They don't want to support salaries of employees or operations; they want to give money for programming. Their true goal is to help with the programming - the part of a non-profit that is making a difference in the people it serves. One way to accomplish both is to prove how a person is so connected to a specific program that there is a symbiotic and synergistic relationship.
  • They give money to organizations that are working and collaborating with other orgs to accomplish the purpose. Grant-makers don't like to have multiple non-profits all trying to do the same thing but who won't work with each other. They feel that is not a wise use of resources.
  • They like organizations that have broad support from donors, not a narrow group. Mkae sure that you are tapping the widest possible group of potential contributors.
  • They are made up of people, of very caring people who want to do the most good with the resources they have. They all have restraints but I can tell you from personal experience all grant-makers want to give away far more than they are permitted to give.
  • Appeal to the generosity and humanity of the grant-makers. Get to know them as people and make sure they know you, not just your mission. Don't be just a report they read, be a person and a face they relate to.
  • Ask them who else you can talk to. Not only do grant-makers know the local non-profits, they are usually well acquainted with many high-capacity donors. These donors may have additional financial resources they'd like to give away but do not know of a worthy opportunity. The grant-makers know the passions of these high-net-worth individuals and they might be willing to serve as a conduit for you to access these generous people.
Lead On!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Community Foundations

  • Every major city has a community foundation which is where people have given money, to be held in trust, until the donor or the board of directors distributes grants. Some CFs are very, very large (think billions of dollars investments) and some are small. All are legally required to give money away.
  • For two years I worked as the CFO of a community foundation. Nothing gave the staff and board more pleasure than giving away money. It was so much fun to see the faces, hear the stories, and dream about how much more could be done for the region.
  • CFs have major classifications for grant-making:
    • donor advised funds (DAFs) - the donor recommends to the CF which non-profit should receive a grant and how much the grant should be
    • field of interest funds - the board gives money to organizations which meet the donor's criteria when the fund was established such as literacy, health, etc.
    • unrestricted - funds which the board gets to distribute according to their wishes and the grant requests which are received by the staff
  • CFs are in the business of helping local non-profits - most CFs have a geographical restriction - and improving the quality of life in their community. They are tied to their community - the staff and board shop in the same stores as you do, worship in the same churches, attend the same movies and theaters, etc. These people know what is going on in their city and they want to make it a better place.
  • Many churches have high net worth individuals who already have DAFs with the local CF. Churches would be well-advised to meet with their local CF staff to get to know them, to be known, to educate the CF of what the church wants to do, and seek ways to partner together.
  • A church can also work with the people who already have DAFs to educate the church leadership about how the church can work with other high-net-worth individuals (whether they are members or not) to accomplish what the church wants to do.
  • CFs are experts on all local non-profits. If your church wants to do something, meet with the CF staff to learn about other non-profits with which the church can partner to accomplish far more than each can do separately.
Lead On!