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David Hollenbaugh's Articles

VIDEO: Planned Giving for Your Small Ministry

Is it possible to start a planned giving program even in a small ministry?

Yes! Whether you're a leader in a small, medium, or large Christian ministry or nonprofit, you can start a Planned Giving Program. Here are a few tips that can help you along the way.

After watching this video, send me an email here or give me a call at (724) 475-6121. I look forward to talking with you about how to begin those critical conversations with your donors about Planned Giving.

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They are on the Board, of course they should be “on-board” with the organization. But that’s not always the case, is it? In fact, just this past week I heard an executive director utter these very words, “They’re finally on-board.” Board Engagement Thoughts When you first hear the phrase “Board Engagement” what goes through your mind? An active, optimistic and synergistic team giving their best? A leadership group investing their time, talent and treasure? A scrutinizing panel of judges to whom you must defend yourself with volumes of reports and explanations? Worse yet, an absentee committee that provides little or no direction other than a constant guessing game as new selections are made and old terms expire? No matter what your answer and experience, board engagement is of paramount importance to your organization. Whether you lead at the administrative or staff level, or you hold a seat on the board, you have an important part to play in a healthy and ...

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Giving and Getting in Christian Higher Education

In the last two weeks, several leaders have expressed to me the same concern. The question asked arises frequently, but in these instances focused on Development in Higher Education. I thought it was a good time to highlight some ideas and address the issue. The question: Where does faith and action intersect in the world of fundraising? Where to Begin This particular tension has existed since “fundraising” in Christian circles began. It can be theologically challenging, and it can also be a limiting factor if inappropriately translated. In the Bible, Nehemiah, David, Solomon, Matthew and Paul address this topic. In our contemporary experience George Mueller, D.L. Moody, Billy Graham, and a host of others answer this question. It is a good and valid question. Let’s start with perspective—God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. He can do anything and everything, and he doesn’t need us to accomplish His objectives. For some reason though, God has given us a role in His creation and invites us in ...

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Prepare for Takeoff

I have flown on a lot of airplanes—commercial and private. I have even piloted a few of the private ones when the controls were handed over by a friend. One thing always remains the same, no matter the size, power, occupancy, or destination of the flight – there is always a pre-flight checklist and a flight plan. These two things prove imperative for a good, successful flight. I don’t like to think of what could happen in their absence. As we approached New Year’s, I emailed a colleague to encourage her and say I couldn’t wait to see what her plans for her organization’s fundraising goals in 2015. She responded by saying that she couldn’t wait to see what she had planned either! Her delivery amused me, but the results we can expect when we don’t set goals or have a plan are less comical. We simply might not get to our destination. It is easy to get busy or sidetracked. There are competing priorities. It can be difficult to carve out time to plan and then stay focused—but it’s necessary in order to succes ...

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What Do You Say..?

A woman I know, a grandmother, recently began an experiment with her giving. A different experiment than you might expect. She began to keep track of whether or not her grandkids called to say “thanks,” or sent a thank you note, after receiving birthday and Christmas gifts from her. She lives some distance from her grandchildren, but in trying to show her interest and care, she gives some substantial gifts. She has a simple rule: If there is an effort made to say thanks, she continues to give that grandchild gifts. If they don’t make that effort, they are “cut off” and the giving stream ends. It’s over. That’s it. They don’t get a second chance until something changes her mind. She’s serious, and so are your donors. Mom Was Right If someone does something nice, we say “Thank you” in return. Do you remember as a kid when a relative would give you a present or a compliment and immediately your mother would chime in (as only she could) with, “What do you say?” That constant reminder to show gratitude should ...

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What Makes a Hero?

Most of us have had a hero at some point in our lives. Maybe it was a relative, a friend, or someone right out of the comic books and movies—someone we always tried to emulate. Maybe your hero has changed over the years, but hopefully you still have at least one. Heroes are the people who inspire us, help us rise to the occasion, and do more with what we have. How Big is the Box? Recently, I was discussing a particular challenge with my 11 year old son. This challenge was nothing monumental, but provided me with a really opportune teachable moment. I said to him, “Well, maybe it’s time to think outside of the box.” His first response was, “Dad, how big is the box?” My son is pretty imaginative and was already trying to figure out how to use superpowers to make the box bigger. His follow up response was even better and I’ll share that in a moment. Heroes of Many First, I want to talk about a few heroes. These heroes would be labeled as such by the numerous peopl ...

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Major Gift Magic

Think of something you like and enjoy—cars, food, music, sports, gardening—you pick. Whatever you’ve chosen, it is probably a combination of art and science. Just peel it back a few layers. Cars include design and engineering, food combines presentation and chemistry, music involves performance and composition, and the list goes on. This is not the first time that someone has applied the phrase, “It’s art and science,” to make their point. However, how often do we stop and explore those components as we strive toward our daily goals? It is easy to operate at such a rapid pace and become so familiar with routine that we fail to recognize the importance of the two working together. Historically, what has been termed “magic” is instead, at its root, art and science combined. I am thinking of those magic acts that inspire wonder and awe, not the ridiculous science that “proves the woman is a witch” from Monty Python’s Holy Grail. When I present “Major Gift Training,” or as I coach and develop strategies with ...

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Why Have a Major Gifts Program?

Finding a development professional who would disagree with the merits of a productive major gift program would be difficult. Most would identify with the benefits that major gifts provide. But why do organizations still struggle in this area? For centuries, people have cultivated apple trees because they know that if they pay attention and do it well, the tree produces fruit. It can be a time consuming and tedious process. Sometimes personnel allocation and coordination is a challenge. More often than not, it’s simply a matter of overcoming inertia and moving forward. This is true whether you are beginning a major gifts program, involving new personnel, or experiencing the daily challenge of making appointments and visiting prospects. Build Relationships through Activity Many nonprofits report higher dollars from fewer donors in the past few years. As our donors decide how to provide support, relationship is a tremendous factor. Recently, and especially in challenging economic times, people choose to ...

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“Planning Their Work and Working Their Plan”

You’ve probably heard this simple phrase before. The first time I did it was not out of the many words of wisdom from my Grandmother. Instead it came from my college roommate as we waded through an intense period of finals (almost 25 years ago). Since then, I have remembered it often and I can easily recognize the difference between those who have a plan and those who don’t. Family Guidance & Brian Johansson I want to highlight an organization I am blessed to work with, Family Guidance, Inc. I am proud of them. I have seen them do so much in a short time. They are at the head of the class in planning – hands down. A year ago, new leadership inherited a ministry that had great history of service, but had faced challenges over the last several years in personnel, planning and execution. The Board was engaged and helpful, but no board can execute, adapt or react to daily objectives and activity. Wisely, the Board hired a very capable CEO, Brian Johansson. Brian was used to having a plan, and he quickly m ...

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Running on Empty—When Summer Funds Run Low.

Sure, it’s the title of an iconic song by Jackson Browne. It’s also the feeling you have when the pressure is on and there is still a lot of ground to cover - the need to get to the destination but there isn’t enough fuel in the tank. I’m not afraid to cite great songs of the 70’s to get my point across. For many Christian non-profits, summer is the peak of their activity and the busy season in providing services. Painfully, it is also usually the low-point of the year when it comes to fundraising income. We call it a “Summer Slump” and it happens to almost every non-profit. Donors are on vacation, school is out, thoughts and activities are elsewhere - not so for our non-profits. The Challenge In discussing this challenge with one of my clients, the importance of summer funding became even clearer. You see, the kids they serve through mentoring programs are now out of school and faced with more opportunities to be exposed to negative, even destructive influences. Some of the other services and structures t ...

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  1. Re: Running on Empty—When Summer Funds Run Low.

    I have learned so much from you Dave, and once again am reminded that if God's people aren't aware of...

    -- Susan LeCornu

  2. Re: Running on Empty—When Summer Funds Run Low.

    I have learned so much from you Dave, and once again am reminded that if God's people aren't aware of...

    -- Susan LeCornu

  3. Re: Secret Weapon of Relayed Information

    Great reminder, David.

    -- Ben

Adventures in Giving
by David Hollenbaugh
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About David

For more than twenty years, I’ve enjoyed building value and increasing results for the organizations I’ve worked with. I am grateful for the leaders and mentors who have invested in me professionally and personally and in the same way, I am honored to encourage others. I admire the ministries we serve and I love helping to fuel their mission to build and care for God’s Kingdom.

I see life as an adventure—family life with my wife and three kids, enjoying God’s creation in the great outdoors, learning something new, or just about anything. I believe that sharing that enthusiasm adds to the success—and fun—in whatever you do.

My hope is that you will find these Adventures in Giving both practical and supportive and that they will help you recognize your own journey as an adventure.

I appreciate your comments and I wish you the best in all you do!

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