by Dr. William Enright
Founding Karen Lake Buttrey Director Emeritus of Lake Institute on Faith & Giving
The crow’s nest from which I have come to view religious giving and fundraising is that of a pastor and an academic practitioner. Retirement has now blessed me with the opportunity to sit back and reflect on what I learned during my years at Lake Institute. In many ways, my book belongs to all of you who participated in Lake Institute programs and seminars; you were my teachers and mentors. What did I learn and observe from this life-altering perch? Religious fundraising is more about ministry than it is about money. So, Kitchen Table Giving flips the traditional fundraising focus from the front porch of the church to the kitchen table where donors make their charitable giving decisions. It is my hope that this book will provide religious leaders with a roadmap that leads to their donors’ giving tables.
Excerpt from Kitchen Table Giving:
JoAnn chairs the governing board of a denominational judicatory. Lorrie is the executive director of a multi-congregation lay chaplaincy ministry serving a network of urban hospitals. Sam is the new pastor of a congregation whose board prohibits him from being involved in anything that has to do with finances. What do these three leaders have in common? Each of them serves an organization facing major fiscal challenges. Each works with a governing board composed of people representing other organizations or program interests. Each has discovered that only a minority of their board members actually contribute financially to the mission they oversee.
Over time JoAnn, Lorrie and Sam orchestrated a major turnaround in their boards’ behaviors. How did this transformation come to be? Each addressed board members’ duties and responsibilities. JoAnn and Lorrie’s boards were largely made up of individuals whose primary roles were to protect the interests of the organization they represented rather than those of the board on which they sat. Sam, while viewed as the pastor/leader of his congregation, was expected to manage well with his financial hand tied behind his back. All three understood that the issues needing to be addressed were governance issues. So, their first step was constitutional: to clarify the roles and expectations of board members. Once new bylaw changes were in place, they began to seed the board with new members. Slowly, as the ethos of their boards began to change, their board members came to see themselves as stewards rather than guardians.
How do board members serve and live out their roles? Do they function as stewards of a vision for tomorrow or as guardians of past successes and values? Guardians are anchored to the past and stuck in the status quo; they act to preserve and protect old interests and bygone alliances. Such were the boards JoAnn, Lorrie and Sam inherited. Stewards, by contrast, see themselves to be servants of an institutional vision and calling.