This year, we mark the 30th annual Essentials of Development program. In honor of this milestone, we have taken an opportunity to hear from some executive directors who have participated in the program and learn why they believe it is a valuable tool for other nonprofits.
Through Essentials of Development, David Bailey, founder and chief vision officer of Arrabon, learned not only how to raise more money, but also how to better tell his organization’s story.
Arrabon is a spiritual formation ministry that equips the church to actively and creatively pursue racial healing in its communities. This is work David is passionate about and equipped to do, but when it came to raising money and managing everyday business procedures, he knew he needed additional support.
“One of challenges of being part of a nonprofit is that you are excited and very competent about the thing that you know how to do, but few of us understand how organizations work or how to raise money or manage people,” David reflected. “What’s really great is when you get the resources, the information, the know-how to build capacity, even to know the places to get more resources that enable you to focus on the thing you know how to do. That’s such a great gift.”
Before Essentials of Development, David wasn’t afraid to ask for money; he just didn’t know where to start. “I didn’t want to treat people like ATM machines,” he said. “Essentials of Development gave us the tools to be able to relationally connect with the people who want to be connected with us, but also share our stories in a way that people want to give money.”
Through following the plan laid out by the program, David, his board, and his staff have been able to double their donations. It’s even changed their fundraising philosophy altogether.
“Having gone through Essentials of Development, I now see fundraising as telling your story to the people that have a desire to hear your story. It’s really helped us raise a ton more money, but even more so, there are more people who are passionate about our organization than before we started.”
Because of this, storytelling has become central to Arrabon’s work, and as a result, more people benefit from it than ever before.
“It has been a game-changer for our organization,” says David. “We have been able to double what we are bringing in. It’s helped us to tell our story better, and the more people that understand your story, the more people can be involved, and the more dollars that follow.”