by Pat Bilow
Creative writing is imperative to development success. How we write thank yous, grant requests, major gift proposals — how we communicate in general — can certainly spell the difference between “Yes, count me in!,” or, “No thanks!” Little did I realize decades earlier how much my English composition and journalism courses would contribute to my career as a planned giving professional.
These foundations brought me through three great learning curves. The first was writing a book about our family’s experiences with foster care. The book itself turned out to be a two-year marriage with my much valued Selectric. (Do you know about Selectrics? They were quite the deal back then.) To get that acceptance letter from a REAL publishing company after sweating through every sentence of every chapter in my manuscript was joy beyond imagination. When I expected my first royalty check 18 months after publication, however, the company went under. Still, it was a great ride! TV interviews, book fairs, autographs — great fun for awhile, but fame is fleeting.
My writing and typing skills came into play again when our new community wanted its own United Way. We had just moved from Toledo to rural Henry County, Ohio, with Napoleon as its county seat. Someone from the Chamber of Commerce learned of my work as a public relations writer with the Toledo United Way and tapped me (willingly!) to help start this countywide United Way. What a huge learning experience! I never knew how difficult it was to raise money.
Once again, I used my writing skills to apply for a grant from the Campbell Soup Company to help get us started. (Napoleon, Ohio, is home to the largest CS plant in the country.) That, along with F. Lee Bailey accepting my letter of invitation to be our first campaign kick-off speaker, put us on our way. F. Lee came on the scene only after I and our campaign director made 50-60 presentations to companies, institutions and organizations throughout the county at all hours of the day and night. Huge learning experience here!
All credit, of course, belongs to God who opened the doors every step of the way.
And my third greatest learning curve? Watch for my next blog post when ALDE enters the picture!
Pat Bilow is ALDE President and Senior Gift Planning Counselor, LWML, with the LCMS Foundation. She still lives in Napoleon, Ohio. Thanks to Pat for her willingness to do the first couple posts as we work to gain traction with this new venture.