How We Do What We Do (Part 1)

Posted more than a year ago.

I know I promised more updates on our Thrive projects this week. And those updates are coming! But I’ve received some interesting questions in the last few days that have prompted me to go a different route with today’s post.

Here they are, in no particular order:

  • “What are you counting on the Thrive menu page? Are these real, tangible dollars that OC has in-house or are these pledges to give?”
  • “If the dollars listed are pledges, then where does OC get the money from right now to actually accomplish these projects?”
  • “Is the Thrive Campaign intended as a crowdsourcing effort? The Thrive menu feels like a Kickstarter or Kiva, but the number of givers suggests otherwise.”
  • “Why did the team shoot past the goal for Garvey HD? The improvements in Judd sound wonderful, but with limited resources, wouldn’t you want to push donors and their gifts to other strategic priorities first?”

Wow. Great questions.

The beautiful serendipity for me here is that your rather astute inquiries all relate to a common topic: Oklahoma Christian’s fundraising method. That’s exactly what I want to tell you about today and Monday, and hopefully I can answer your questions along the way.

My Philosophy on Philanthropy

Let me start big picture with you. To work behind the scenes in a fundraising team like ours, you need to understand one important idea. It’s not about money.

“What? Of course it is.” you’re thinking. “That’s the whole point. Your job is to raise money.”

You’re right. That’s our job. And, at the end of the day, there will be no Thriving without dollars coming in the door… but that’s not what philanthropy is all about.

Once, in front of an uncomfortably large crowd, I was asked, “why have you chosen to make your career as a professional beggar?” You could hear a pin drop after the question (but no one in the room denied having an interest in my answer).

Funnily enough, I’d never seen my career that way, but I could see in that moment how someone else might. The perception this young man had was that my job was to pry money away from people for a cause that couldn’t support itself—and that would mean degrading myself and pestering those around me until the job was done.

But that’s not philanthropy and that’s not how fundraising works at OC. If I’m really honest with you, it might be smart of me to perpetuate this young man’s myth, because then few of you would know that I have one of the greatest “feel good” jobs on the planet.

Think about that feeling you get on Christmas morning, when someone you love opens your present. Or that feeling when you give to a food drive. Or when you serve at a camp or on a mission trip. The emotion of giving is one of the most powerfully good feelings we can experience as human beings (feels even better than getting and there’s biological proof of that…ask me sometime and I’ll tell you about it).

People want to give. Moreover, they want to give to ideas and causes that are meaningful to them—that stoke their spiritual fire. And that’s what our team’s job is all about. We get to know our campus, our students, their needs, and their dreams at OC. Then we get to know our OC family, their interests, their needs, how they want to make a difference, what they hold dear, their precious memories, and the dreams they have for the future.

And then we bring those two powerful visions together—helping our donors fulfill their philanthropic passions AND pushing Oklahoma Christian forward on a strategic and momentous path.

It’s a wonderful life. You should give me a call to try it out. (*wink*)

-Will

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"Wait, wait, wait. You haven't answered anything." I know. This is what I like to call the emotional build--an important teaser before I get all technical. Come back Monday for the logistical bits and your answers!