Running From a Different Perspective

By Brad Layland, CEO and Senior Consultant

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” 1 Corinthians 9:24 (ESV)

I often write about running on my blog, but today I’m writing about running from a different perspective – how we “run” our nonprofits and ministries. My strong conviction is that we must run them in a way that we win the prize of efficiency and effectiveness.

My wife and I are blessed to support about 50 different ministries and organizations through our family foundation, the John 1:16 Foundation. If you know us, you know that neither of us came from wealthy families and that any resources that we have, we have worked for. God has blessed our work and allowed us to steward more of his resources than we ever imagined that we would. And to be transparent, we are still working hard to make the money we give away on an annual basis. 

Recently my wife, who is a realtor, worked extremely hard with a couple for three months to find them a house. She spent at least 200 in-person hours with them to make the deal go through, and in the end, she earned an amazing commission of about $10,000. On the same day as the closing, a major gift officer met with us and asked us to support their work. This gift officer presented a case and pretty quickly asked us for a gift of $10,000. I found myself wondering if that gift officer realized how hard my wife had worked to make the $10,000 they were asking for.

Sometimes as a major donor to many organizations, I feel like there is a disconnect between the number we are being asked for and the pressure we feel to continue making money and to try to meet all of the requests that are presented to us. I have observed this pressure in my experience working with major donors who give much more money than we do.

This pressure deserves a commitment from the organization asking for the money.

The organization that is asking for support should commit to do three things: 1) minimize expenses  2) maximize results 3) communicate the impact.

A friend once said that the greatest gift an organization can give in response to a donation is incredible outcomes. Donors don’t long for mugs with your organization’s logo on them. They want to see the impact of the gift.

So in the end, I love Paul’s verse that I started this blog with, that we need to run the race in such a way that we win the prize. The ‘prize’ for a donor is the changed lives. Let’s run our organizations in such a way that we maximize that impact — by minimizing expenses, maximizing the results, and communicating the impact.

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