13 Oct Who Can Teach Us To Build?
Excerpts from Growing and Building – Faith, Prayer and Leadership
by Bruce L. Fister, Lieutenant General, USAF, Retired
published 2017 Saquaro Publishing
Officer’s Christian Fellowship (OCF) has a vision to positively impact the military through Christ-like leaders. Their mission is to engage military leaders in Biblical fellowship and growth to equip them for Christ-like service at the intersection of faith, family and profession.
In June of 2004, I again began a search for a consultant campaign partner. This issue would later become part of the 40-day prayer vigil that the Capital Committee indicated in August of that year. To begin the search process, I opened discussions with three very fine organizations, but the one that attracted my attention consistently was The Timothy Group. Pat McLaughlin, the CEO of The Timothy Group, has two passions: building the Kingdom through biblical fundraising and baseball.
Pat is a very animated individual who paradoxically founded his work on two pillars—the Lord’s Word and the words of Yogi Berra. In his spare time, Pat was an umpire and has worked over 600 baseball games at the Little League, high school, and college levels. He always had stories to tell about experiences with the kids, like “there are no do-overs” (when you’re out you’re out). He also liked to share the sayings of Yogi Berra such as his advice to batters about coming out of a slump. “Slump? I ain’t in no slump…I just ain’t hitting.” Or “You can’t think and hit at the same time.” It was fun to hear Pat talk, and when things were not going exactly as planned with the Growing and Building Campaign, the thoughts of Pat and Yogi provided a little relaxing humor.
What eventually settled me and OCF on the selection of The Timothy Group was the principles; therefore, any organization with which they partnered had to have values compatible with theirs. Second, they would only work with an organization with a vision and a plan for implementing that vision. In this instance, the OCF Strategy, the overall OCF vision that was part of the strategy, and our recent work on a campaign vision were compelling. Third, they were a proponent of leaving no one behind: that is, even small donors were important to the success of a campaign, and in the case of OCF, this fit well with our need to reach out to the younger members. Fourth, they were proponents of a pre-campaign survey. And last, they didn’t offer boilerplate solutions; they tailored their approaches to the uniqueness of each organization. This also meant that they would “coach,” but the real work had to be done by OCF and its members.
In November of 2004, The Timothy Group began their work on the pre-campaign study. As they did their work, OCF, with The Timothy Group’s help, turned their attention to the development of a case statement, a two-page document that they could use with potential major donors so they would understand how the Lord was leading OCF through this campaign.
By April 2005, The Timothy Group had completed the pre-campaign study. They were convinced that OCF could raise the funds necessary for construction of the Heritage House at White Sulphur Springs. Pat McLaughlin presented the report at the spring Council meeting.
The Timothy Group concluded that OCF could raise between $6.8 and $7.2 million in Phase I of a three-phased campaign. This remained a daunting challenge, but the OCF Council and I were confident through faith, that OCF could successfully move forward with this campaign. The Council approved The Timothy Group as the consulting partner for the OCF capital campaign and reaffirmed their support for the campaign. It was time to begin and build the team to take on this great vision that the Lord had put before us.
A point that Pat McLaughlin emphasized was that the OCF leadership, specifically the Council, key staff, and key volunteers had to demonstrate that they had the confidence that the Lord was leading the organization in this capital campaign. As I mentioned earlier, this group of faithful servants demonstrated their faith in the Lord’s direction and gave sacrificially and joyfully beyond expectation to the Growing and Building Campaign.
The Campaign Plan
My first challenge was to build a campaign plan and a broader campaign organization. Pat provided a set of manuals tailored to OCF that would guide us through the development of a campaign plan, production of publicity material, and construction of a campaign organization. Organizing and staffing the campaign with a large group of volunteers along with OCF’s already dedicated staff was not only somewhat of a trial initially, but it remained a challenge throughout the campaign. This proved to “be one of the most difficult aspects of exercising leadership in this volunteer environment, particularly since it involved a significant amount of time, and because all of us were unfamiliar with the process of capital fundraising.
Despite this challenge, The Timothy Group recommended a campaign structure consisting primarily of volunteers. A volunteer fundraising structure is typical for religious and some not-for-profit organizations. The most important reason is that volunteers work from the heart and for OCF: they are the core of the ministry, and they would create an environment of dependence upon the Lord. Professional fundraisers and some paid staff might have been able to do the work for OCF, but not only would it have been much more expensive, there would also be far less commitment toward the project on the part of the membership. After all, OCF was and remains an organization of volunteers, beginning with local fellowships and includes almost all aspects of the ministry. It was in our DNA.