So here we are, Next90 Phase I Capital Campaign in full tilt. If you’re like most people, you’ve begun to seriously contemplate what your commitment will be — and how you’re going to swing that financially.
For many if not most of us, with bills to pay and children or parents or other commitments to support financially, how do we determine what gift will be both reflective of our commitment to the future of this church and be realistic and aligned with our resources and abilities?
Enter Doug Turner, Founder of Culture of Ready, a veteran fundraising professional who has helped churches and ministries raise more than $1 billion during his career. “I help churches in this process,” Dough explains in his recent address to church leaders and those making advanced commitments, “and it’s a ministry that I think God has given me through the years. I’m excited about partnering with you at the First UMC here in Fort Worth.”
With the goal of walking us through how to process what our Next90 commitment might look like, Doug begins by exploring the difference between interest in this project and being involved. Using the analogy of first meeting his wife many years ago. “When I saw her across the room and began to get to know her, I was interested in her,” he relates. “Today, after 40 years of marriage and four grandchildren,” he adds with a smile, “I’m involved.”
Doug says that for those of us here at FUMCFW who enjoy active participation in the ministries and the community of faith we find here, we too are beyond simply being interested in this church. We’re involved.
“It’s a part of you, and you’re a part of it,” he elaborates. “Maybe, inextricably joined with this place is your understanding of the identity of being a Christ follower. You’ve been shaped by this place. You know what it is like to be a part of the mission and ministry of First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth.”
Doug explains that with this sense of involvement in mind, no matter who you are or where you are financially, there’s a level of involvement for everyone somewhere in this campaign.
“Ultimately, what we recognize is there’s a proportionality to giving,” he says, “and whether your commitment is at the top of the $15 million Phase I Giving Chart ($1 million) or at the bottom of this chart (less than $2000) over the next two years, what this commitment represents is your involvement in the future of this church — involvement that could well change your life.”
Doug is quick to emphasize that in asking first for your involvement means that we want your commitment to Next90 to be something that you recognize as something that is profoundly spiritual in your life before you consider the financial side. “We want this to be moment of spiritual growth in your life,” he adds, “and not just simply a financial, ‘check book’ decision.”
As a congregation, we’ve been asked to pray, “God, what does involvement look like for us? What does that really mean?” And, following that question, we now must ask ourselves, “What does that giving look like for me or my family?”
Want to Go with The Flow?
Doug says that one way most people are involved is that they’ll give out of their income, or their cash flow. “Did you ever think about what your income represents in your life?” he asks.
“God gives you two precious commodities that when you put them together it produces an income. One of those commodities is your gifts, your talents, your abilities, and couple that with that illusive commodity of time. Once you spend it you never get it back again. Those two things bring an income into your life. There’s a whole lot of us tied into our income,” he adds. “It’s personal.”
The personal nature of our income is also exactly what makes generosity such an interesting kind of struggle, Doug says, and the reason most of us wrestle with exactly what our involvement will look like. Using an example of a young couple he once knew who wanted to make a commitment to their church’s capital campaign but really didn’t know where it would come from, Doug relates: “So after praying about it, they said, ‘Okay, how many times do we eat out a month? Okay, let’s cut back there. And how many vacations do we take a year? Let’s cut back something there.’ And they started coming up with some real ideas to bring those resources together. Before you know it, they had a pretty substantial amount of money committed to the campaign.” (He also mentions something about giving up their season tickets to college football, but we’re not mentioning that in this article; however, it does raise the idea of finding places for a deliberate shift of priority and intent.)
This kind of thoughtful deliberation, Doug says, is what it looks like to be involved in the Next90 Capital Campaign. “It’s all about getting involved with what God wants to do in your life.”
Do You Have A Rhino?
Doug says that the second way to consider your commitment to the Next90 Capital Campaign is to look at an asset-based gift, where you give something of value out of an asset or an accumulated asset. What that means is you give the asset to the campaign and deduct the fair market value of that on your tax return without having to pay capital gains tax, which you would have had to pay if you liquidate the item and give the money to the church.
“It’s a wonderful way to be involved,” he says, adding that it’s very important to first discuss this kind of gift with your tax advisor to be sure of the rules and guidelines.
Doug likes to tell a story about a guy in Florida who gave a registered Hereford bull to his church’s capital campaign. Sometime later, when working with a church group in Houston who had heard this story, a rancher wearing big belt buckle, cowboy hat, and boots walked up and said, “Let me ask you a question. Did anybody ever give you a rhinoceros?”
A . . . what?
“A rhino’s worth more than that bull,” the rancher drawled.
“This guy owned a wild game ranch, and he raised rhinos,” Doug relates. “He had buyers all over the world— and for him to be involved meant giving one of his rhinos.”
So, Doug queries, “What would your rhino be?