AR Newsletter
New AR
Adventist Fund-raising Book
to Guide Building Projects

Volume is first to address local church needs, authors say (Posted Feb. 23, 2012)

BY ELIZABETH LECHLEITNER, Adventist News Network

A local congregation decides to build a church fellowship hall, but doesn’t secure adequate funding beforehand, assuming “the money will come once we get going.” It’s a familiar scenario, and one Seventh-day Adventist philanthropy experts are hoping a new fund-raising guide will help local church leaders avoid.

“If you believe the Lord will bless later for the money to come, you can also believe the Lord will bless right now and bring it,” said Nikolaus Satelmajer, who wrote and edited Successful Fundraising: A Guide for Local Churches, with Lilya Wagner, director of the church’s Philanthropic Service for Institutions (PSI).

As its name implies, the department has historically served the fund-raising needs of the church’s educational and health-care institutions. But today PSI is fielding more and more requests from local congregations. As multimillion-dollar building and capital projects become routine, fund-raising is an increasingly complex endeavor, Satelmajer said.

“While there are countless how-to volumes, I wanted something customized for Adventist campaigns and projects,” Wagner said. “It was challenging but also satisfying to take the best experiences and practices in my field and adapt them to the needs of [Adventist] leaders.”

 FUND-RAISING GUIDE: Adventist philanthropy leaders say a new handbook for local congregations covers industry best practices in fund-raising from a Christian stewardship perspective. PHOTO: AdventSource
Successful Fundraising: A Guide for Local Churches (AdventSource) is the first such handbook written and edited by Adventist philanthropy leaders.

The handbook will serve as a springboard to any fund-raising project, with advice and formulas on advance planning, structuring a capital campaign, stewardship principles, and avoiding debt fatigue, Satelmajer said.

While the handbook specifically targets a North American audience, its principles will apply worldwide, he said. One chapter explores Ellen G. White’s approach to fund-raising. The Adventist Church cofounder was a key figure in fund-raising for many of the early church’s health-care and educational institutions. A study of her methods indicates that she believed in asking for donations, especially from those she knew well and from potential donors outside of church membership.

“You have to get to know the person, and you have to present them with a case: Here’s what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. It’s not enough to say, ‘We’re building a new church; will you give us money?’ ” he said.

Another key principle is getting the entire church behind a project before moving forward, Satelmajer said. With church-wide support, a building project can unify a congregation around a single goal, but when the majority of members are reluctant, a project “can really damage the relationships in the church,” he said.

“We spend quite a bit of time developing this idea—How do you make it a church project, and not just a project of three or four enthusiastic people who commit $100,000 and say the other million will surely come,” Satelmajer said.

Successful Fundraising: A Guide for Local Churches is available through AdventSource as a first resource for local pastors and lay leaders. PSI is encouraging those who purchase the handbook to contact the department for further support, including advice, referrals to local resources, and—in some cases—a site visit.

“PSI can answer some questions and provide some advice over the phone and will do their best to send someone qualified to work with the congregation,” Wagner said.




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