By Brad Layland, CEO and Senior Consultant
In the late 80s, I declared that I was running for President of the United States in 2032. At the time, I wanted to become an attorney and go into politics. I had a desire to serve and change the world, and I could not think of a better way to do that. Fast forward thirty years, and I am not on track to run for president (although I do have a plan on how it could still happen on the back of a napkin somewhere). However, I do get to help lots of people change the world through the work I do as the CEO of The FOCUS Group.
Early in my career with Young Life, I learned that if I wanted to reach a high school of kids, I could simply go out and do the work. But if I wanted to reach the whole community, the best way for me to do this was to raise money to enable a team of people to do the work together. I figured out that fundraising is not about raising money, but about engaging people relationally to be partners in the work.
These two realizations – that funding is the fuel that makes ministry happen and that fundraising is all about relationships – are what I have built my professional life around. I have been sharing these two realizations over and over for the last 30 years, anywhere that people would listen. I got to teach fundraising first within the ministry of Young Life, training their staff, and then through the FOCUS Group for the last 12 years. It has been a joy to help others see how much fun it can be to raise money the right way so that communities (even countries!) can be transformed. My greatest desire is to see God make all things new, and I know that amazing work can occur when ministries are fully funded, but there are so many people in the world who are approaching fundraising the wrong way, leading to frustration and discouragement.
Therefore, I decided to write a book on fundraising that offers hope and help to people who are doing amazing things to transform their communities. My book, Turning Donors Into Partners: Principles for Fundraising You’ll Actually Enjoy is an easy read; I cover the foundational elements of fundraising and tell lots of stories – over 60 of them! In these stories, I describe some of the good, bad, and ugly things I have seen over the years.
So, unless something changes, I will likely not be president in 2032. But I have a different hope: that by 2032 there will be hundreds or even thousands of people who have read my book and discovered a fresh, relational, and life-giving approach to fundraising.
On a practical level, Turning Donors Into Partners is being released today. Here is a link to the book on Amazon. If you read it and find it to be helpful, please leave a review on Amazon. Thank you – those reviews matter!