Wisdom Wednesdays: Spring … When a Young Man’s Fancy Turns to … Wills & Bequests!

by Jon Dize

Spring … Rebirth … Renewal … Spring Forward … Looking Forward … Planning Ahead … Planned Giving …

Ok, maybe this is how my mind works, but Spring is an excellent time for you and your organization to consider wills, bequests and other planned giving efforts.  The snow is melting, the future looks bright (more sun in the sky, and we celebrate the death and life of a Son).

Dize-JonPlanned giving should be as much a part of any fundraising calendar as the year-end mailing, the scholarship brochure, the Endowment Report, etc.  Below is a FAQ primer to get your leadership thinking:

What exactly is “a planned giving effort?”
In short, all organizations should be looking to promote ways to identify, plan and execute wealth transfer options, including wills/bequests, charitable trusts, etc., to benefit the mission.  Some experts call them “life gifts”, where you identify and support what was important to in your life. 

Why should we have a planned giving effort?
If you do not ask, you will not get.  It truly is as simple as it sounds. 

When do we start a planned giving effort?
Yesterday.  Everyone can think of a time your organization received a gift from someone’s will at just the right time.  “Wonderful!  God is good!  What a salvation to our project that was!”  Well, someone did some work in the past to make the gift a reality now.  Time to get moving. 

Whom should we approach in our planned giving effort?
Everyone.  While common logic may indicate that you should focus on those who are “nearing the end of their time here on earth,” studies show that families create wills on average when they are in their late 40s.  Get in there now for the long haul. 

How about just focusing on the wealthy?
While this may be a good plan, as local Leave A Legacy efforts around the country tell us, “you do not have to be wealthy; you just have to be willing.”  Would you rather receive one bequest for $50,000, or 10 gifts of $5,000 each?  There are arguments for both.

All of these concepts can be summed very nicely by something a pastor recently told me: “I oversaw nearly a dozen funerals of long-term members last year.  Not one of them included the church in their will.  I guess we cannot just ‘assume’ it will happen anymore.”

Spring into action, everyone!

Jon Dize, CFRM, serves as the Director of Development for The Lutheran Schools Partnership in Fort Wayne, Ind.  He is also president of the Indiana-Michigan Chapter ALDE. LinkedIn Twitter: JonDize17



Wisdom Wednesdays: Living Inside the Design

by Mark Schoepp

People are generally surprised when they hear about three of the simplest ways to boost any kind of thinking/creativity based work in the workplace.  They are: exercise, healthy eating and play.  We’ve known for a long time that those three are important for our health from the neck down – heart health, muscle tone, lung capacity, etc.  But perhaps the most important reason to do any of those three is the affect they have on our brain.

Schoepp-MarkThis powerful video shows the dramatic impact exercise — 20 minutes on a treadmill at the start of math class – had on a student’s behavior and academic success.  The same thing happens in people of any age.  That is the design!  The body is designed by God to move.  When we do, good things happen.

Taking care of yourself means you can be better equipped to take care of those you serve because you’ll be ready to work efficiently and effectively.  It also means your mind will be in a better state to develop creative solutions to problems facing God’s people, and that you will be more open to hearing God’s guidance for serving those in need.  Being in the right state of mind will likewise make you more able to listen to donors, understand their wishes and act upon their desires to make God’s word and love known.

Various nonprofits are going beyond themselves when it comes to health, getting involved in their communities specifically around this topic.  They know how important it is for good stewardship of our bodies — for giving God our best.  Sometimes the people in their community know what they need to be doing and they just need a little (or a lot of) encouragement to do it.  Sometimes they really don’t know why they are doing so poorly.  Either way, there are organizations taking specific steps in this direction.  Trinity Lutheran in Klein, Texas, and Salem Lutheran in Tomball, Texas, both have exercise rooms right at the church, open to members and often to the community.  Christ Memorial Lutheran in St. Louis has exercise space and has taken it one step further — with the help of a grant from Wheat Ridge Ministries, they have a R.E.H.A.B. program that helps those who don’t have insurance coverage get the simple exercise they need.  Health is dramatically improved and a community is built around the experience with people praying and caring for each other even outside the context of the exercise room.

Other churches and schools are providing community gardens and more around the concern for healthy eating.  They say that these “bridge ministries” provide a degree of visibility they didn’t have before.  In addition to providing a much needed service, they provide the beginnings of a relationship that provides ample opportunity to share the good news of Jesus.

Truly, these organizations wouldn’t have been able to develop such great community services if their leaders hadn’t been taking care of themselves so that their minds and bodies would be ready to hear and carry out God’s call.  How can you be ready to serve God and serve others?

Mark Schoepp served the church as a Director of Christian Education for more than 30 years in four congregations.  Mark and his wife, Becky, also toured for 20 years as Fitz Family Ministries,  a unique family ministry and entertainment troupe.  Mark joined Wheat Ridge Ministries as full time Director Of Congregation Engagement in July 2010.  Mark works to inspire and encourage Lutherans and Lutheran Congregations to connect to their communities through intentional programs that promote health and wellness.

Since 1994, Mark has been following the developments in the field of brain research and education, with a special interest in brain health and its application to the church, the church school and the home and provides workshops for a variety of audiences.

Wisdom Wednesdays: How to use LinkedIn to Build New Relationships

by Anthony Juliano

Previously, I shared some best practices for enhancing your existing relationships on LinkedIn.  This is LinkedIn’s true wheelhouse: the platform works best when used to make deeper connections or additional impressions with those you already know. However, there are some ways you can use LinkedIn to develop new relationships — and here are four of the most prominent:

1. Use advanced search to learn who knows whom. Advanced search is one of the most powerful features on LinkedIn. Not only can you find out who does what at a given company or in a given industry, you can also see who knows whom within your networkThat means you can see if someone you want to know is connected to someone you already know. When that intermediary exists, you have a great opportunity to…

Juliano-Anthony-web2. Ask for an introduction. LinkedIn provides a formal process for asking for introductions, wherein the intermediary mentioned above can connect you to someone you’d like to meet. Use these introductions judiciously, however: if you have a basic LinkedIn membership you can request no more than five introductions at any given time. In addition, your connections may get weary of helping you connect to others — unless, of course, you’re willing to do the same for them.

3. Join the same groups as the connection you want to meet — and provide real value. A shared interest or affinity is a great way to break the ice. With that in mind, visit prospective connections’ profiles to see what LinkedIn groups they’re part of, then browse those groups to find the groups in which they’re most active. Assuming you share the same interest — or that you can develop that interest for the purposes of building the relationship — you can join the group and participate in conversations with those you want to meet or start conversations that provide value to the group as a whole. It takes time and effort, but it can accelerate the process in a substantive way.

4. Send a personalized connection request. Want to accelerate the process even more? The best route may be the simplest: sending a connection request to a person with whom you’d like to connect. Just be sure to make the connection request by visiting his or her profile from the full site, clicking the “Connect” button and then writing a personalized connection request that explains why you’re reaching out. Sending the request in any other way — from a LinkedIn mobile app, for example — will result in the prospective connection getting the generic (and uninspiring) “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” message. You can do much better than that — and the likelihood of your request being accepted will improve as well.

Remember, LinkedIn is best used for connecting with those you already know. If you’re smart in how you go about it, however, it’s possible to launch a few new relationships, too.

Anthony Juliano of the LinkedInstitute, and Vice President of Marketing and Social Media Strategy with Asher Agency, is an experienced LinkedIn trainer and strategy consultant.  He has developed and taught several LinkedIn classes, presented about LinkedIn at national conferences and provided LinkedIn training for a wide variety of individuals and businesses.  Anthony approaches his work with one simple goal: to help others understand today’s changing communication environment.  He presented two sessions this February at the 2014 ALDE International Educational Conference in Jacksonville, Fla., “Building Bridges With LinkedIn: How to Connect With Your Advocates,” and, “Bridging the Gap Between Social Media and Marketing: An Integrated Approach.”  Want to go deeper?  Purchase Anthony’s sessions here!