Saturday, November 17, 2012

Growing a Friend to Be a Friend and Donor to the Ministry

It can be quite complex to balance a friend relationship simultaneously with a donor relationship. Sometimes a donor relationship becomes so friendly that making the bigger asks become difficult and awkward. Other times a relationship starts with a friendship but you also have a keen awareness that this friend is a potential major donor to the ministry. Like good friendships, donor relationships are built with trust, respect, truthfulness, courtesy, honesty, sympathy, joy, love, and a shared understanding of Jesus as the hope of the World. There is no greater shared interest than that of a Shared Lord and Savior.
The challenge is to make this good friend, apart from your personal friendship, a friend of the ministry. Grow this friendship with the ministry in the same ways you grow personal relationships: with a shared passion in Christ as the foundation, building trust, respect, and confidence will flourish.
Below are some ways to cultivate a friend of the ministry relationship that springs from an existing friendship or relationship. This is addressed in three phases: before any gift, growing smaller gifts to larger giving, and maintaining a friend of the ministry.
Before any Gift - Introducing your friend to the ministry is the first step to assess the potential for this relationship to grow and flourish. Assuming there is a high level of compatibility, the friend of the ministry will need to be educated about the ministry. Start by inviting them to visit the ministry and to attend special events, meetings or conferences relevant to the ministry. Show them promotional materials; mail your newsletter in a personalized envelope and with a personalized note; provide them with a copy of privileged communications about future plans, campaign development, strategic planning and ask them to provide input and suggestions.
Once they have been engaged, ask key leaders in the ministry (Board Chair, Founder, President) to host this friend of the ministry in their home. Offer complimentary tickets to kick-off or other special events for the friend of the ministry.
Growing Smaller Gifts to Larger Giving- First, it is important to continue doing the things that made the relationship flourish from the start. Build on this by making this friend of the ministry a special friend that is a confidant and mentor to the ministry. Inform them of future initiatives and seek their guidance and support early in the process. Be sure they are among the first to see information about the Pre-Campaign Study. Continue to grow their involvement seeking guidance in their specific areas of expertise and ask them to support the ministry as committee members for important projects. Get feedback on plans while still in a conceptual phase and share draft strategic plans and ask for their perspective. If this friend of the ministry is in a different geographical location, talk to them about being a project lead for a specific state or region.
Share exclusive premiums such that connect with the ministry with the friend of the ministry. Connect them with other major donors to the ministry and ask them to introduce the ministry to friends. It may even make sense to ask them to host a business leaders' symposium specific to their industry, region, or sphere of influence.
Publicly recognize the friend of the ministry in newsletters, websites, and social media venues. Of course, first ensure that the donor is comfortable with being known as some donors prefer to be less public. As appropriate, seek to have the donor recognized by others in the press or industry publications and then send the press clippings when the donor is recognized in the news.
Continually engage the friend of the ministry in the mission and vision of the ministry by helping them see the impact of the ministry. Share photos of those served by the ministry and ask those that benefit from your ministry to write personal testimonials. Invite the friend of the ministry to become a prayer partner and ask them to pray for specific needs, projects, individuals, or initiatives. This should not be a general "please pray for the ministry" but a specific such as "please pray for our manager in Jacksonville who is struggling with an illness."
Likewise, allow the ministry to be a friend to the individual. Sympathize with the friend of the ministry and pray for them and their personal needs. Ask them if there is anything you could pray about for them and offer to pray with them. Send get well or sympathy cards as well as celebratory cards for birthdays, anniversary, and accomplishments. Visit with the friend of the ministry on a regular basis and make sure the visits are in good times and bad. Be sure the ministry really gets to know the friend of the ministry. Know their family members, know their personal hobbies and interests, know what is important to them and where their heart is.
Maintaining a Friend of the Ministry - Again, continue the friend of the ministry suggestions above but also consider additional activities.
Thank the friend of the ministry and ask others important to the ministry to thank them such as a ministry founder, president, or other respected donors. Make your appreciation known both publicly and privately and seek to have others outside the ministry recognize the friend of the ministry for their generosity and commitment.
Provide them with special premium gifts to acknowledge their donation and provide a certificate of appreciation or engraved plaque. When considering these activities, be sure to take note if the friend has other plaques, certificates of appreciation, or newspaper clippings displayed in their home or office. If it appears unlikely that the friend would display the personal sign of appreciation, instead consider including their name on a giving tree or donor plaque in your lobby.
Become involved in the friend's circle of influence and meet others connected to the friend who may also have an interest in the ministry. Request that they host a table at an annual banquet or special event or ask them to host a reception in their home and invite others that the ministry may otherwise never have contact with. In this way you are asking them to help you raise money. As the relationship grows, the ministry may want to request that they join your board of trustees or a special advisory board.
Continue to request gifts from the friend on a regular basis but be sure these are always personal requests and not requests from a newsletter or mailing. The friend should be removed from your general appeals and should now be communicated with as the friend and confidant they have become. Have a separate newsletter that goes to an exclusive list of friends that does not contain a request but does keep them up to date on ministry activities.
Growing genuine friends of the ministry is an investment in the ministry that will pay huge dividends well into the future. The more involved the ministry becomes in the lives of these close friends and they, likewise, become involved as a friend of the ministry, the more profitable this relationship will become for both parties. The purpose and heart of this development process is so important to the success of growing friends as a development strategy. With a shared passion in Christ as the foundation of the friendship; building trust, respect, and confidence through mutuality and friendship, the friendship with the ministry as well as your personal friendship, will flourish.
Dr. Jeffrey J. Rodman is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) and a Certified Grants Specialist (CGS). He is an experienced grantwriter, fundraiser, and nonprofit executive, who operates Here-4-You Christian Grant Consulting and Church Grant Writing providing consultation for grant writing to Christian ministries and Churches worldwide. Jeffrey received his BS and his M.Ed. from George Mason University and his PhD in Religion from Christian Bible College in NC.
Jeffrey supervises a team of writers, researchers, editors, and administrative staff in providing consultation for grant proposal writing, nonprofit development, and fundraising in almost every state and a dozen foreign countries and has worked on proposals to Federal, State, and Local government as well as to Foundations, Civic groups, and many others. He has written 100's proposals, secured millions of dollars in funding, and maintains a funding rate of nearly 80%.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Determine Your Bathroom Remodeling Cost

The bathroom is one of the first places homeowners want to remodel, but determining your bathroom remodel cost can be easier said than done. Up until relatively recently, the bathroom was a place people were more likely to sneak off to or get in and out as quickly as possible, but today's modern bathrooms are places of luxury and relaxation, even in modest or small bathrooms. This has led to the bathroom being the top choice for modification and upgrades, but there are other reasons homeowners are turning to bathroom remodeling, including the high potential return on investment, the low comparative cost for the remodel and the level of enjoyment and appreciation a good bathroom design will offer. Talk with a bathroom remodeling and design professional early on in your planning stage and take advantage of in-person advice to create your perfect bathroom remodel.
The right bathroom remodel cost and benefit for you
A quick search on the internet will show you that estimated bathroom remodel costs can vary widely, usually from a low of $4,000 to a high of $15,000, which is a huge variance. There are so many factors that contribute to the cost of any remodel that it's impossible to get an accurate estimate, or even a close ballpark at times, without a detailed list of desired materials and a personal consultation. For example, a small guest bathroom could cost just a few thousand dollars to replace the floor, vanity, countertop and lighting with most of the work done yourself, or you could end up spending several thousand dollars on granite, custom designs and expanding the size of the bathroom into an adjoining closet. While labor plays a huge part in determining your bathroom remodeling cost, so do the materials you want, making a bit of compromise likely if not absolutely necessary. It's also important to take into consideration the time involved with your ideal bathroom remodel, which will help determine your cost versus benefit ratio.
Budget bathroom remodeling
Because bathrooms are the smallest room in the house the cost of a remodel will be much less than one for a kitchen or master bedroom, but because the bathroom is the second most frequented room in the house the need for a good layout and design is crucial. These two factors contribute to the reason bathroom remodels recover nearly all of the cost when the home is sold. Doing much of the work yourself is a great way to get even more value out of your bathroom remodel and keep costs down, and most homeowners can do the demolition themselves and buy their own materials from discount shops to better control their bathroom remodeling costs. Understand, however, that this method requires a good amount of foresight, planning and education, and if your time is very valuable (like if you have young children or only one day a week free) it might be worth the time and frustration to hire a general contractor and have it done quickly and correctly.
Design your perfect bathroom on any budget
Think about what is most important to you in a bathroom remodel: imagine your most perfect design as if the cost was unimportant, and go from there. If you've always dreamed of having a jet bathtub it's OK to splurge a little and save on the less demanding areas. By knowing what you want ahead of time, and having a list of must-haves and a list of areas you can compromise on, you'll be able to better budget your bathroom remodel and save yourself from potential heartbreak after realizing you can't afford a material you've fallen in love with. Talking with a professional at this point can be highly beneficial because you'll learn where you should be spending a little extra and where you should be saving. Don't skimp on the necessities of your bathroom or you'll end up not enjoying the finished product and not getting a decent return on your investment. For example, get a great low-flow toilet that won't give you any hassle or frustration down the road, and the extra money you spend will be recovered in your water bill.
It's good to know that many modifications that seem like luxurious upgrades can actually help you save money in the long run, such as installing radiant floor heating and environmentally friendly faucets and fixtures. Even if green bathroom remodeling isn't high on your list of priorities, it's something that should be considered, especially if you might sell your home in the future, as buyers are increasingly looking for eco friendly products and conveniences. The good news here is that although some green bathroom materials are slightly more expensive than their traditional counterparts, the majority cost about the same and most will contribute to overall household savings.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Unprepared Means Stress for Others

Have you ever been summoned by the family to assist financially with a loved one's closing life expenses? If you haven't, you have truly been blessed. If you would permit me, I would like to share three accounts of some loved ones with diabetes, one prepared the other two ill-prepared for their closing acts.
The very first one I would like to share was an in-law that I loved like blood. I suppose she was diagnosed with diabetes in her thirties and continued on a declining path because she refused to change some very key things in her life. She experienced, along with diabetes, high cholesterol, retinopathy, neuropathy, dialysis, gangrene, amputation, and finally congestive heart failure. There were suggestions of lifestyle change, especially dietary, but the changes were not embraced. She made her decision to enjoy the rest of life the way she had always known. So when she went into the hospital for the final time, we all wondered was she ready. Not only ready to meet God in peace, but financially prepared. We gathered all the paper work we could find and discovered that she had properly put all things in order. I cannot tell you the peace of mind that surrounded the family. She purchased her burial plot 30 years before her death. We found that she had final expense insurance and all things went off without a hitch. We were not soliciting funds to bury someone dear to us. I praise God for her foresight, knowing that we all will go that way one day.
Then there was an aunt on my husband's side of the family that was also diagnosed with diabetes 20 years earlier than when she thought she would be diagnosed. (she figured she would someday get this news because diabetes is so prevalent in this family). She did not follow the doctor's counsel to watch those foods that would cause her blood sugar level to spike out of control. Not unlike my last account, she would also sneak and eat certain things behind closed doors. Well one day she had a heart attack and it was bad. The doctor says it came as a result of being on a certain type of insulin that caused high cholesterol, not watching what she ate, being bombarded with stress (which by the way can make your blood sugar levels spike), and not taking her meds consistently. Finally, artery blockage was the culprit and she passed-- only 62 years of age! She had nothing! No plans, no money, no clue, the family was caught off guard. I got on the phone and started calling, along with other family members, to raise burial funds. We collected and borrowed until there was a sufficient amount for a proper burial. The family was tired, embarrassed, and emotionally drained. We were sad and angry that she left all of that for us to do. This is not something you would wish on even your enemy- if you have a heart.
Lastly there was another aunt, on my side this time that was diagnosed with the same dreadful disease. She was a sweet person, but very quiet. Contrary to the others, she appeared to follow exactly what her physician advised. She was careful as to what she ate and tried to educate others in the family about the disease. However, one Christmas enduring a lot of stress in her marriage, she decided to go all out for dessert. I can tell you exactly what she ate. A piece of New York style cheesecake, a small piece of apple pie and 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream detailed her last meal. Sadly she fell into a diabetic coma and stayed there for 4 months. She had actually planned for final expenses, but the length of the hospital stay, caused the disheartened spouse, to cease payment on the policy and she ended up not being prepared after all. Once again we scrambled, and called, and begged for monies to bury this person overcome by this debilitating disease. What a travesty!
Why did I take the time to share these accounts, well simply to make you aware of what family members are forced to deal with when you don't take care of your own health or final expenses. It doesn't have to be this way. The Holy Bible says God has time appointed for each of us, but it also says in the book of Ecclesiastes that we can die before our time. If the latter occurs, wouldn't you want to be ready? You can be! Simply click on the link below and complete the quote form, so that you can receive everything there is to know about Final Expense insurance. It is nice to know that loved ones have your back, but it is even more assuring to know that you have theirs, and that it has already been handled. Unnecessary stress should be avoided at all cost.