“Imagination rules the world.”
Wow. A powerful statement by the legendary French military and political leader, Napoleon.
Makes me think of the Walt Disney Imagineering who, inspired by the Disney genius of storytelling, used technical innovation and creativity to invent new forms of entertainment.
Creativity Attracts Major Donors
How does this relate to engaging your major donors and prospects in your ministry’s mission?
First of all, when you use creativity to clearly relate a glimpse of God’s transformative work in the lives of those you serve, you will attract the interest of major donors. Whether you focus on domestic or international needs, there are boatloads of stewards with a passion to join you in service.
Fred Smith is president of The Gathering, one of the country’s largest networks of Christian philanthropists. He points to the reality of the greatest wealth transfers in history as an opportunity for ministries to creatively serve major donors:
“The capacity of evangelical America is enormous. It’s not a limited pot. Wealth is continuing to be created at amazing speed and depth and numbers. Christian donors can do great things both overseas and at home. It’s just a matter of capturing their imagination.”
3 Ways to Create Major Donor Excitement
So how can your ministry engage major donors and prospects in an imaginative way to accelerate their involvement in your cause? Consider these examples.
- Imagineering Through Art
Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids Michigan just completed Christ Chapel, the evangelical school’s first dedicated worship space in their 75-year history. As plans were being formed for the $14-million dollar building, Cornerstone leaders were attentive to the vision of one of their alumna, Roberta Ahmanson.
Ahmanson is a passionate advocate of contemporary art and suggested the school commission a world-renowned artist to create stained glass windows for the Chapel. The idea fit within the school’s vision and the results are stunning. Students comment about the awe-inspiring experience of worship in the Chapel.
Artist Makoto Fujimura commented to Christianity Today, “There are no other Christian colleges taking on this type of scale and intentionality in designing a chapel site.” All because university leadership listened and took action on an imaginative idea of a key partner!
What questions could you ask major donors partnering with your cause that would draw out their creativity in a major project?
- Imagineering Through Memorable-Moment Events
Seed Company launched in 1993. It began when Wycliffe Bible Translators’ Board of Directors decided to find a faster way to translate Scripture into minority languages worldwide.
Extensive prayer and surveying of major donors pointed to five major ideas designed to accomplish that lofty goal. Fast-forward 20 years to the ministry’s celebration highlighting the achievement of starting 1,000 Bible translation projects.
Seed Company leadership huddled with dozens of their closest donors who encouraged them to hold an event under the stars at Dove Mountain in Arizona. Major donors and ministry leaders celebrated by projecting a map of the world on the side of the 500-foot mountain with a live, multi-media presentation.
This presentation summarized God’s plan to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy from 2700 years ago. He prophesied that, “All nations will come to your light; mighty kings will come to see your radiance.”
Take a look at how they creatively present the 2,000 year history of Bible Translation in just nine-minutes! By conducting extensive surveys of major donors over the years and following through on creative ideas of celebration, the evening became a holy moment. This moment honored “the least of these,” while communicating vision to reach the next 1,000 languages with translation needs.
In what ways could your ministry survey major donors and implement their ideas to underscore God’s life transformation in your cause?
- Imagineering Through a World Class Venue
Star 99.1 is an award-winning, contemporary Christian Music station covering New Jersey, as well as parts of New York City. In fact, at any given moment there are people listening from Times Square to a boardwalk along the Jersey Shore, or from inner-city Newark to the rolling hills of Easton, PA.
Just saying, “New York City” brings out the imagination in anyone around the world. What would you do to practice Imagineering with major donors in this world famous market?
Brainstorm with your staff about the most sought after NYC experiences? Star 99.1 chose Times Square, The Crossroads of the World, where they have delighted major donors with Prayer Rallies, audience appearances on The Today Show, and concerts with The Newsboys at the PlayStation Theater.
Identify the most desirable venue in your service area. How might you create partnerships to unveil the way God transforms lives through your ministry and invite major donors along for the ride?
Try Imagineering to fascinate your major donors. As popular author Sally Hogshead summarizes from her extensive research, “People will invest up to 400 percent more for your (cause) if you can build a fascinating experience.”
The ball’s in your court.
Photo Credit: A Holy Experience