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Jun 1, 2024

What Is Your Story?

⚒️Some of you know that Julie and I are selling our current home and downsizing a bit. We're moving to an AirBnb in the final weeks of this chaotic remodeling effort, while our awesome Palestinian contractors complete the finishing touches.  Because of this, the audio versions of these newsletters will be a little hit-and-miss.  I'll record them when I'm away from hammers and saws and let you know when they're available!👷

In the meantime, you can listen to previous recordings by visiting The Breakthru Podcast

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The fuzzy picture above is my beloved Grandpa Skipworth around the year 2010.

When I was about 13 years old (the mid 1980s), my Grandpa pulled me aside to have a conversation.  He shared his views about money and, more specifically, his ambition from a young age to become a millionaire.  Over the years I’ve returned to that conversation many times, realizing how his words have impacted me. You see, I was the first grandchild in both my mom and dad’s families.  Grandpa was, in his own way, passing along part of his legacy.  He was casting a vision for generosity.

“I’ve achieved my goal of becoming a millionaire,” he said, “and now I’m embarking on a far more important journey… I want you to know that I plan to die broke.”

At the time I wasn’t exactly sure what he meant.  Then later on, after he passed in 2015, I discovered he stayed true to his word.  There was a small portion remaining in his estate, however he and my Nana literally gave almost everything away during their lifetimes.  I vividly remember my two sisters and I taking a road trip following his memorial.  The journey was full of sharing memories and learning.  We visited some of their friends, and heard stories of blessing and gratitude.  We saw places where they gave their wealth away over the years.

That time with grandpa is one of my earliest memories of conversation around money and generosity.  It has shaped me into the person I am today.  When telling the story, I sometimes begin with how my Grandpa cast a vision of radical generosity for me at a young age.  Although I didn’t fully understand, it felt important.  Something I might want to hold on to.   I now see that the past 30+ years of my life have brought into focus how grandpa’s vision is becoming a reality for me.

If I started this reflection solely by stating, “At a young age, my grandpa envisioned that some day I would discover generosity that would be transformational for my family and our surrounding communities”, you might have thought, “Oh that’s nice.”

But then, to hear me tell how he imparted his vision to us and modeled it?  Now I might have your attention in a much more dynamic way.  Stories are amazing.  Without them, visions risk languishing in vagueness and false hope.

There are many more stories in my life along the way.  Some further cemented grandpa’s vision and others threatened to derail it completely.  That’s the power of a great and big vision.  Without the fundamental anchor of grandpa’s vision, the stories of failure risked ruling the day and creating a warped reality marked by greed and selfishness.

I encourage you to reflect on your story related to money and wealth.  What is your earliest memory?  How has that shaped you?  How does it impact the way you relate to people of wealth who are prospective and active givers to your cause?

Here are four ways I seek to hold my commitment to stories:

  • I write about them in a private journal (or maybe a not-so-private reflection like this post 🙂)
  • I meditate on them
  • I talk with trusted friends about them
  • I meet with a professional therapist

Engage with your story.  Consider the vision your story is giving life to.  This level of intentionality can be a game-changer in the amazing work you do to rally resources for your cause!

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If you haven't taken advantage of some of the resources I've created to help major gift fundraisers, take a look now!  Initial calls with me are free and "no strings attached".  Sometimes folks feel like they need to wait and not 'bother' me until they have a pressing issue.  No need for that...just make the call. 🕺

Here's where you can access a lot of content for free:

* Follow me on LinkedIn - You'll get short pro-tips and reflections on major gift fundraising every day between 5-7am pacific.

* Breakthru Newsletter - As you've seen here, these are longer weekly posts (audio and written) sent directly to your email.

* Breakthru Blog - the newsletter from the previous week gets posted here each week for everyone (so email subscribers get it a week early).

* Breakthru Podcast - Interviews with high net worth givers about how we as fundraisers can get better at inviting them to the party.  And audio readings of Breakthru Blog posts.

Before getting to the PAID stuff:

My opinion is that no small ministry with a tight budget should be spending more than $3-5k (total) for major gift coaching/consulting.  Most of you will be good-to-go spending far less than that.  This was a major issue for me when I was a frontline fundraiser - major gift consultants were an expensive 'black-box-of-confusion' for me.  That stops now.

Here's the PAID stuff:

* Online Catalyst Course - This is a full brain dump of my 28+ years of experience - good, bad, ugly.  It's built around the fundamentals, the sacredness, and the fun, of major gift fundraising.  It's infused with Henri Nouwen reflections.  Many people can take this course and they will be 'cooking-with-gas' and not need any additional coaching from me on the core systems.  I'm grateful that this course has gotten *great* reviews.

* Live coaching with me - I refer to this as "brain rental".  The ROI on live coaching, as you might imagine, is extraordinary.

Finally, I have a new team member named Ivana Salloum.  She's super aweseme and she can help with scheduling and access to resources, etc.

I look forward to hearing about your good work!


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