The Council of General Synod (CoGS) has endorsed “in principle” the newly-created department of philanthropy’s plan to help the Anglican Church of Canada achieve “financial equilibrium” through fundraising efforts that will emphasize giving as “a faithful expression of Christian vocation.”
CoGS also approved the establishment of a philanthropy committee that will provide “leadership and support” to General Synod’s philanthropy work.
Before consensus was reached on the two items, however, some members expressed concern about the feasibility of the plan, given the global economic crisis. Others, like the diocesan bishop of Edmonton, Jane Alexander, questioned the idea of fundraising.
“We’re not a secular, for-profit body. We don’t fundraise, we do stewardship,” said Bishop Alexander. “It’s not that I’m not comfortable talking about money. I am. But this (plan) is against my ecclesiology. There’s merit in it if it’s for UNICEF or Oxfam, but I’m not hearing that we’re a church – it’s not in the language (of the document). It’s a different theology of who we are as a church.”
Holland Hendrix, director of the philanthropy department, said the development plan that he has articulated in a draft document distributed to CoGS “recognizes that building an operation of this magnitude and depth is a long-term endeavour.” It would take at least three years “to begin to build a base for some dramatic increases in revenue development,” he said. “We’re not expecting results overnight.”
Mr. Hendrix also urged CoGS to help his department come up with “a language (for the plan) that is more authentic to your faith and to the church.”
The draft plan calls for the development of a “theology of philanthropy” that will emphasize “the bounty of God’s creation and of God’s gifts to us all.” It will remind Anglicans of their “obligation to share with those in need.”
The plan has four goals:
- to enhance the level of co-ordination and co-operation among various fundraising initiatives within and beyond General Synod;
- to establish a more “professionalized and productive” fundraising operation for the ministry of General Synod and incorporated partners (Anglican Foundation, Anglican Journal, Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund), dioceses and parishes;
- to establish a permanent investment fund “that will provide sustainable financial stability for the ministry of General Synod into the indefinite future;”
- to launch “the most ambitious fundraising initiative in the church’s history designed to reach a new level of support for the ministry of General Synod,” its partners, dioceses and parishes of the Anglican Church of Canada.
The national fundraising initiative hopes to tap national and international leaders who will constitute a blue-ribbon committee to oversee it.
“A feasibility study needs to be undertaken, resulting in prospective gift pyramids that will inform the goal…” said the plan. “A professional staff, preferably with campaign experience, should be recruited. And, most importantly, no less than 40 per cent of the goal should be committed in advance of the launch.”
Mr. Hendrix also identified enhancing the Anglican Appeal, where annual giving has been steadily dropping over the years, as a high priority. Plans include developing a volunteer network to help identify and solicit support for the appeal, refining an electronic system and database to provide more useful information, more intensive donor research, improving donor relations and stewardship education.
“Depending on the economic environment and its impact on potential donors, we hope to increase income to the Appeal by 300 per cent over a five-year period, with small incremental growth in the first two years and more substantial growth in the third, fourth and fifth years,” said the plan. “To achieve this end, it will be necessary to grow the Appeal staff as increased demands warrant and expanding revenue makes possible.”
Major gifts – defined as donations of $50,000 or more – are “the greatest potential source” for increasing revenue for the ministry of General Synod and developing a program in partnership with dioceses and bishops would be one of the highest priorities, said the plan.