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The Goal & Role of Christian School Development



The goal of development is to engage people rationally with your work. Providing opportunities for individuals to give “casually” or through participation in projects can be helpful in building your database. Steps should be taken, however, to move those giving in these categories to becoming core donors.


In order for your ministry to experience and maintain long-term success in Development, the following pieces must be present and dynamic, not static. The Mission Having a clear understanding of your mission is essential to a rational approach to Development. Your ministry is encompassed in its mission. Mission drives everything and should also greatly influence your Development activities. Likewise, all of your Development activities should contribute to the fulfillment of your mission. If the ultimate goal of Development is to build strong and rational relationships with donors, then it is essential that your ministry constantly communicate the mission, what is being done to achieve it, and the successes achieved at demonstrating it. Mission statements describe what the organization does in order to attain the vision. Organizations without a mission statement are treading water, unable to effectively evaluate progress (or success) in their work. The Vision Your ministry vision should answer the question, “What will our ministry and greater community look like if the mission to which we are committed is accomplished?” Whatever contributes to the fulfillment of the vision should be clearly laid out and understood. Vision statements generally describe a preferred future and every organization should have one! If you don’t have a vision statement or a compelling one, you will have a very difficult time funding your future. Lead with your vision in mind. Remember that every organization appealing to others has needs; but those who share a compelling, real-time vision will strike the heartstrings of many. When the day is done and you accomplish what you believe God positioned you to do, what will be the result? What will people remember your ministry for? For instance, if your vision involves children and Christ-centered education, it will get attention as you craft it to demonstrate a future that you can provide and that you must fulfill. It will be your vision that will capture the imagination and interest of prospective supporters. The axiom is true, money follows vision, not need. Organizations without a clearly articulated vision are most generally managed re-actively and seldom achieve their potential.

THREE REASONS WHY DONORS SUPPORT ORGANIZATIONS THEY BELIEVE IN YOUR MISSION They find it compelling – something they could never accomplish on their own. THEY BELIEVE IN THE LEADER'S VISION Whether this is an individual or a group of leaders, donors want to support leadership’s vision. THEY ARE CONVINCED THEIR SUPPORT CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE Donors want to help you accomplish your mission. They have every reason to believe that you can do exactly what you say you are committed to doing!

​The Strategic Plan This written document is a plan that spells out details of the steps that must be taken, over a specified period of time, in order to move your ministry from where it is to where you envision it could be if time and resources were not an issue. Your plan needs to be very specific, articulating the steps you intend to take over a stated period of time to achieve the accomplishment of your mission. This must be based on sound projections rooted in an objective analysis of your available or “acquirable” resources. Your plan should demonstrate a phased approach which might be slowed or accelerated based on the involvement of organization donors. Organizations without a strategic plan are constantly frustrated and often aimlessly move in a variety of directions following a variety of plans. The reality is, “If you don’t have a plan, there are several others that do!”

The Development and Business Plan A comprehensive Development and Business Plan will help articulate the particular steps toward funding the ministry’s vision. Your ministry will need to have a clearly articulated Development plan that will show in measured ways, the specific performance levels that will be required in each of the key Development areas to take you from where you are to where you want to be in the intended time-frame scheduled.

Organizations without a Development and Business Plan lack focus and success. This generally results in a deterioration of enthusiasm for work among all constituents.

The Development and Business Plan address specific donor needs and will show the number of donors you need annually to keep you on schedule in achieving the elements of your strategic plan. Additionally, this plan will list annual objectives in all other leading Development indicators. This plan will detail specific objectives in all other areas of the Developmental function, i.e. recruitment/retention, public relations, organization, database, etc. ​It is important to maintain a balance in Development. All of Development rests on the foundation of mission. It is the basis of your vision and the thread that weaves strong and enduring relationships. Having an organizational strategic plan is essential but apart from a focused and quantifiable Development/Business Plan it is unlikely to be achieved. What Now? It's one thing to read about what to do, and quite another to take the first step and get started. Most small and mid-side Christian schools do not have Development personnel, and if they do they are often untrained and left to fend for themselves. According to Derek Baker (DB&A), "It is commonly accepted that the average tenure for fundraisers is eighteen months. That figure may be out of date, however. According to the 2016 Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey, the rate of turnover is up. Well-known author and researcher Penelope Burk of Cygnus Applied Research has data showing that the average tenure today is more like sixteen months." This is hardly enough time to gain much traction even if following suggestions mentioned in this article. Serving Christian schools is what we do. We have been in your seat and understand your challenges. Our knowledge, expertise, and industry relationships make us a go-to for helping your Christian school succeed in Development. Contact us today to and let's begin the conversation.

SchoolRIGHT's DevRx Coaching will enhance your training by walking with you through a step-by-step process to begin or restructure your Development department. We will help you take a detailed look at your current processes, analyze donor perceptions and guide your Development team (no matter how small!). Authored by Clint Holden © SchoolRIGHT, LLC., unless otherwise specified. All rights reserved.