How Big is Your Vision?

The Annual Big Gifts Ranking ( posted by The Chronicle of Philanthropy reinforces the idea that big gifts follow big visions.  How big is YOUR vision?

Two scenarios illustrate this point.  First, I’m currently working with a charity on their first capital campaign, and the rumblings from the initial feasibility study interviews are that their goal isn’t big enough! It represents what they “need,” but donors aren’t very excited by the challenge or the goal because it is dwarfed by other campaigns they have helped succeed.

Second, when certain donors were asked why they consistently made large gifts to the same charity, they replied, “Because we can.” While this seems like an odd reply, further digging revealed that the charity “makes it easy for us to give, and their vision is commensurate with our giving.”

Do you have the infrastructure and expertise to handle a large gift? Do you have a vision to embrace it?

I once encountered a technology donor who had sold his company and wanted to tithe from his $90 million share of the sale. This $9 million tithe created an awkward scenario: the tithe amount exceeded the total annual budget of the mega church they intended to give it to, and the church had no vision beyond their day-to-day annual operating budget. The donor didn’t feel right about placing the church in this “awkward” position, so he felt his stewardship required him to give the $9 million to another organization.

One of the consequences of the growth of the financial markets is large amounts of liquid capital that’s available for philanthropy. There’s literally more money out there right now than there’s ever been in human history. If God were to meet you at the door with a $9 million challenge, do you know how you would use it? The resources abound, but a donor who embraces good stewardship will only meet you halfway. If you aren’t ready to also come halfway, it might be time to get the help to do so!

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