Today we launch into a multi-part series on a donor development (and, for churches, member discipleship) topic which may be the most important development/discipleship topic that almost no one is talking about.
I have in mind the corporate coaching of champions: a fundamental commitment to turn away from (yes–I mean, repent of) doing donor development as a one-to-one or one-to-many process and a decisive turn toward coaching and equipping all of your champions simultaneously, in one another’s presence, where their substantive, cause-focused interaction with you and with each other forms the length and breadth of your development undertaking, and where the growth of one leads to the growth of all (yourself included).
At root is the recognition that things happen in groups that don’t happen individually. Groups have resources on which we may draw, resources about which modern donor development and, sadly, member discipleship are woefully ignorant and negligent.
It’s not that we don’t bring our donors and members together. We do. There are banquets, auctions, wine and cheese benefits, volunteer appreciation luncheons, and even volunteer training events. In churches there is the, you know, Sunday service among other gatherings.
But for the most part, to draw on language Luke Stamps shares from Michael Horton, these gatherings aggregate individual experience and donor/organization (or member/church) relationships rather than serving as platforms where shared knowledge and skills and resources and giftings are expected and enabled to cascade from the corporate or collective that is gathered onto the individual (including the pastor or nonprofit exec):
It is well worth exploring Christian piety as a cascading phenomenon. Reformation piety . . . rather than expressing Christian life as flowing outward from the individual to broader relationships (i.e., the church as the aggregate of the individually regenerate), sees it as cascading down from the church and the family to the individual.
The basic unit of donor/member development, in other words, is the collective–the champion network of the nonprofit or the congregation of the church. The collective experiences the cause together. The collective processes the challenges and opportunities together, learning from each other and from a variety of resources under the guidance of mature facilitators. The collective makes decisions together, allocating resources like the collective’s time, money, and attention, in its work of attending to the cause or causes to which it is called.
As we’ll see in this series, this is something altogether different from a pastor preaching at a congregation or a nonprofit exec leading a training event. And on the other hand, it is also something altogether different from crowdsourcing. This is not a “donor cloud” of shared bias and ignorance that we are seeding.
Instead, what we have in mind is something old and new brought back out of the treasure chest: A practical way for all donor/member development to be daisy-chained together so that no one’s development is an end in itself but rather each one’s development is drawn upon fully and directly and intentionally as the primary machinery on which we rely to further the development of all the rest.
Donors developing donors, as it were–members developing members.
Or, if that doesn’t sound radical enough:
Only donors developing donors. And only members developing members.
Should be a fun series. It will definitely be best read…corporately.