Where is Your Heart this Holy Week? (Part 2 of 2)

Where is Your Heart this Holy Week? 

Part 2 of 2

It was a hard week for Jesus and for His followers, that first Holy Week. Let’s look at a few of the responses of the heart surrounding Holy Week from the perspective of those closest to Him.

If you missed part 1 of this post with the first 4 responses of the heart, CLICK HERE.

Let Jesus meet you as you consider these scenes.

5. Believing Heart - Jesus has revealed Himself personally to me and I stand on that revelation despite what others say.

Mary’s believing heart is in stark contrast to the disciple’s unbelief that Jesus is alive. We are all at different stages of the journey and growth. Supporting each other, being patient with each other, challenging each other and learning from each other are key aspects of community that keeps our hearts strong.

6. Doubting Heart - I will not believe until I see Him.

Thomas felt like an outsider. He was not present when Jesus appeared to the other disciples. He could not get wrapped up in the exciting new faith journey of the others until He saw Jesus for himself. Christ lovingly responds to his doubting heart, and shows him his wounded hands and side. However, Jesus states there is even a more blessed life when we believe without seeing.

7. Slow of Heart to Burning Heart - I was unable to recognize Him in my circumstance at first.

The first response of the two on the road to Emmaus was “thickheaded”, but as Jesus walks with and unveils scripture, their hearts burn with fire and passion. (Luke 24:32). Never underestimate the power and change of perspective available to you when you let Jesus teach you.

8. Restored Heart - Take me back to my first love and show me how you accept me today, Jesus.

Jesus restored Peter’s wayward heart after breakfast by the sea. He did not leave Peter alone in condemnation after he messed up. Peter is broken and in a new place to receive the love and comfort of Jesus. The acceptance we receive from Jesus lays the foundation for a tremendously fruitful life!

Beth Bennett

Director of Coaching


Where is Your Heart this Holy Week? (Part 1 of 2)

Where is Your Heart this Holy Week? 

Part 1 of 2

It was a hard week for Jesus and for His followers, that first Holy Week.  Let’s look at a few of the responses of the heart surrounding Holy Week from the perspective of those closest to Him. Let Jesus meet you as you consider these scenes.


  1. Heart of Apprehension - Where is Jesus taking me now?


Disciples are not sure of what to think as they sense a stir during the parade into Jerusalem, yet it would be difficult for them to not see the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy in front of their eyes.   Staying grounded in the Word of God will help us stay grounded in times of uncertainty.


  1. Emotionally Tired Heart - I want to be intimate with you, Jesus, but I am too worn out.


While in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asks his disciples 3 times to stay with Him as He prays. And 3 times they fall asleep. Although I am certain Jesus was disappointed in their lack of emotional support, He let it go.  He understood their humanity and did not hold it against them.  He ultimately entrusted them to the Father’s will and timing, knowing that the Holy Spirit was coming and would finish the good work in them.  Being aware of what others are facing will grow compassion in us, allowing trust and release of the outcome into the Father’s hand.


  1. Divided Heart - Why do I care so much about what other people think?


Peter gave into his false self when he denied Jesus 3 times.   He was more concerned about what other people said about him, turning away from his true identity as a beloved son of God.  Peter was confronted by his weakness, one he had a hard time admitting.   He couldn’t see his need for Jesus to wash his feet the night before and I wonder if he wished he would have received from Jesus more freely.  Living in our true self means growing in awareness of what our hearts need to feel His love for us.  And then creating space to receive it.


  1. Faithful Heart - I am going to worship even if Jesus seems dead to me.


Mary and the other women go to the tomb with spices, caring for Jesus’ dead body.  They follow Him and want to be near Him even if He physically is not with them.  Remaining constant in our affection for Jesus (and others) even when we don’t feel like it or when we have nothing to gain is the sign of a surrendered, faithful life.


Beth Bennett

Director of Coaching


Why Succession Planning?

Why Succession Planning? 

I sat with a major donor this week and a ministry leader seeking his support. The donor, who is considering a significant gift, asked the ministry leader if he had a succession plan? Thankfully, this ministry leader was prepared and immediately pulled out a document from his binder that contained the details of the plan.

Are you prepared to answer this question? 

If a major donor considering a large gift to your organization asked you this same question, are you prepared?  If not, don't feel bad. You are not alone. In fact, a 2017 study from Board Source indicated that fewer than 3 in 10 nonprofits have a succession plan in place. However, with 10,000 Baby Boomers (those most likely to hold executive-level positions in nonprofit organizations) retiring each day, now is the time to get started. Don't wait until you find yourself in an emergency situation. The most effective succession plans proactively map out the ways in which an organization plans to handle both expected and unexpected leadership changes.

A succession plan is absolutely critical for the future of your organization. It will help the organization avoid pitfalls, provide the board with a clear path to move forward during times of change and maintain long-term sustainability.

Where do you start? 

Below are a few free resources to help you.

  1. The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers has provided a sample succession plan to use as a template in creating one of your own. You can view it here. 
  2. Board Source has developed an executive transition timeline to use as a resource guide. You can view it here. 

I hope you will consider this very healthy nonprofit leadership practice in the near future.

Your friend in ministry,



Emily Fitchpatrick

Director of Client Services & Coach


Leaning into Lent

Lent = subtract things from my life in order for God to do new things.

The wilderness, Jesus found, was an important place of subtraction. Evidently the Father knew there were things in Jesus’ humanity that needed subtraction, purification, preparation for the new things Jesus was about to walk in.

Jesus was led into this wilderness, not forced or coerced.  “He was taken by the Spirit from the Jordan into the lonely ordeal of testing by the accuser for forty days.”  Luke 4:2

He was taken there on the heels of his baptism and hearing of God’s great delight in him.  The Wilderness.  What a strange place to end up after a hearing a word from God like that.

Or is it?

Maybe God knows best, and He knows how prone our humanity is to rely on the false self.  Maybe He knows what we are about to experience in the big world out there after a spiritual high.  And maybe He knows that given to our own devices, it may not end up well.

So he leads us into the wilderness where the stakes are not as high.  If we falter here, only His eyes see it, and He can lovingly get us back on track.   But if we presumptuously bypass the wilderness and go our own way, in our own time, all eyes see our pride and we are forced to deal with humiliation and shame.

In the third test, Satan took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple (highest place) and tried to get him to jump down where angels would save him.  However, Jesus didn’t fall for the opportunity to show off and gain a following in a sensational way.  This would have drawn a crowd, drawn attention to himself, and drawn him away from the cross.

Instead, He chose the discipline of secrecy.  He lived and moved out of the limelight, eager to get away to be alone with God.  Even His post resurrection sightings were very limited and low key.  He was secure in His true self “I am the Father’s beloved.”  He detached from the false self  “I am what other people say and think about me.”

What is your pinnacle?  The places you are tempted to draw attention to yourself in order to gain love from God and others?  Ministry and service can be a form of self-promotion.  Social media platforms and materialism seek to put us in bondage.

We are invited into the wilderness season of Lent where subtraction, if we let it, happens and God changes us. In the hidden places of surrender where no one sees the wrestling.   In the quiet, secret moments away from the crowds, which is the true place of transformation.

Yes, it is lonely.  But seasons of loneliness are good for the soul.  We come out more confident in God’s love for us and we come out able to withstand the pull of other voices demanding us to be someone we are not.


Beth Bennett

Director of Coaching


Working From Gods Comfort and Love

“You are filled to overflowing with his comforting love” (Phil 2:1)

What a beautiful promise and what a tragedy that so many of us do not experience on a regular basis. Comforting love from the Father.

Instead, ministry leaders tend to work for this love, not from it.

We work hard to help others, feel accepted by God, be used of Him for His glory. But friends do not use each other, and God is longing to satisfy and strengthen with His quiet enjoyment of us.

If the boldest declaration from heaven about Jesus is that He is God’s beloved Son, then the most important thing about us is the same. Jesus’ behavior follows God’s pleasure. His work, actions and ministry followed a secure attachment to the Father’s love. We tend to do the opposite, behaving our way to “worthy enough” and exhausting ourselves while doing it.

Most are not even aware of rejecting God’s comfort, yet where we go for comfort will be the telling factor of whether or not we are experiencing this patient, unhurried, satisfying love.

“I will extend peace to her like a river…you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees. As a mother comforts her child,so will I comfort you…”. Isa. 66:12-13

When was the last time you felt God’s quiet enjoyment of you?

A sense of well-being where you relaxed and let the internal walls of your heart come down?

“Becoming the Beloved is the great spiritual journey we have to make. And we don’t have to kill ourselves to get there…always anxious and restless, always lustful and angry, never fully satisfied. Because we ARE the Beloved. It seems that all of us human beings have deep inner memories of the paradise that we have lost. We are intimately loved long before our parents, teachers, spouses, children and friends loved or wounded us. That’s the truth of our lives. That’s the truth I want you to claim for yourself.”

– Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen

Let this Valentine’s season be your invitation to claim your belovedness and experience His comfort. Create space in next few days to be alone with God with no distractions for at least an hour. See God carrying you and quietly enjoying your presence as Isaiah 66 portrays.

Beth Bennett

Director of Coaching


The Keys To Donor Retention

There’s one often-overlooked aspect of fundraising that actually can bring you the biggest return on investment.

Study after study shows this is the closest thing to a fundraising silver bullet and it’s where you should invest the majority of your fundraising time.

I’m talking about donor retention.

What is donor retention?

If you’ve been involved in non-profit fundraising for any length of time, you’ve probably heard the words “donor retention.” It’s a fancy sounding term that just means keeping donors. Here’s the distinction:

  • Donor acquisition – reaching new donors.
  • Donor retention – keeping existing donors.


Your donor retention rate is the percentage of people who donate to your organization again. So, if 100 people donated to your ministry last year, and 60 of them donate this year, then your annualized donor retention rate is 60%. The national average is, according to a recent national study, is 48%. How do you compare?

Why should you care about donor retention?

1. It’s way tougher to reach a brand new donor.

Roger Carver recently said this: You have less than a 2% chance of a gift from a brand new donor who doesn’t know you. But you’ve got a 20-40% chance of a gift from a lapsed donor, and a 60-70% chance of a gift from an active donor.

In other words, the people who are already giving or have given in the past are far more likely to give again. That means the time you invest in donor retention will have a greater payoff than time you spend on donor acquisition.

2. Long-term donors who give recurring gifts take lots of the pressure off.

When you know the bases are covered, it allows you to lead with freedom and confidence. Imagine going into a new fiscal year knowing the majority of your budget is covered by existing donors who will happily engage for another term. That’s what can happen when you have a strong donor retention plan.

Donor acquisition sounds more important, but donor retention is more helpful.

3. It’s one of the most cost effective fundraising strategies you have.

Non-Profit Quarterly reports: It typically costs around five times as much to solicit a new customer as it does to do business with an existing one. Acquisition costs through direct forms of marketing are high. This is particularly the case in the context of fundraising, where it typically costs nonprofits two to three times more to recruit a donor than a donor will give by way of a first donation. It can take twelve to eighteen months before a donor relationship becomes profitable.

In other words, if you’ve already absorbed the costs of donor acquisition, focusing on retaining them and helping them grow in generosity is a much better use of your resources.

What are the keys to donor retention?

Here are some things you can do to take immediate action.

1. Focus. The first step in improving your donor retention levels is making a conscious choice to focus on it. In short, you’ve got to decide it’s important enough to keep it a priority in the face of countless other priorities.

2. Knowledge. Getting to know your donors as individuals is absolutely key to keeping them engaged over a long period of time. So don’t rely on mass emails and form letters, be willing to make personal phone calls, have coffee for no reason in particular and get to know people on a personal level.

3. Relationship. Getting to know your donors opens the door to having a relationship with them. Your donor is not your database – he or she is a unique individual.   You’ve got to be there for them if you want them to be there for you. That’s how any relationship works. The key to donor loyalty is being loyal to your donors!

4. Appreciation. Any donor retention strategy should be built on thankfulness. Phone calls, thank you notes and public appreciation are not only helpful to keeping people engaged, they are just good things to do. Thank your existing donors constantly using all means at your disposal. How aggressive should you be here? John Lepp says: Say thanks until your donors tell you to stop.

5. Communication. A good donor retention strategy is intentional, not just responsive. That means you can build the strategy in advance and execute it throughout the year. When you send letters and emails, make sure you fill it with stories and pictures. That does far more to keep people engaged than plain information. Stats may inform your donors, but the stories you tell will inspire them.

Action Steps

  • Make a personal phone call
  • Have coffee for no reason in particular
  • Get to know people on a personal level
  • Keep saying "Thanks!"

Do you have questions about donor retention or donor care? Let's chat!

Emily Fitchpatrick

Director of Client Services & Coach


3 Ways To Maximize The 8 Second Attention Span

We live in a world of information overload and the average human attention span is just 8 seconds. With this statistic in mind, I have listed 3 ways you can maximize those 8 seconds while still providing the right amount of information to your donors.


  1. Less is more.


Create communications that are clear, engaging and show real life impact. Drip feed this information throughout the year in bite size pieces. Many people scan read. When crafting communication pay attention to your opening paragraph. Capture their attention. Make good use of bullet points, headlines and white space.


  1. Become a storyteller.

According to Nonprofit Tech for Good, of social media users who support nonprofits online, 56% said that compelling storytelling is what motivated them to take action in the first place. Charity Water uses Instagram to tell the stories of families who have been given access to clean drinking water. The Denver Rescue Mission uses their website to showcase inspirational stories. Hope International uses a blog to communicate stories of life impact.


  1. Collect and share data.

Determine what data you should be collecting at your organization to measure mission fulfillment. Share that data using infographics. Infographics help you cut to the chase. The colors, icons, and general organization of an infographic draws the eye and keeps a person’s attention. Here’s a blog from Classy with 10 great samples to give you ideas. You don't need to be a graphic designer or pay a lot to create a nice visual. Canva provides a free platform to create infographics and other designs using a variety of templates.


While there is a place for white papers and reports, the majority of our general donor communication should be simple and sweet!    


For more faith-based nonprofit resources, visit www.MinistryVentures.org 

Emily Fitchpatrick

Director of Client Services & Coach


The Balancing Act Of Working With A Board

If you’ve been through MV training, you’ve heard us talk about the fact that your ministry can only rise to the level of your Board.  We also talk about the balancing act of leading a ministry and working with a Board.  This is more often than not the biggest pain point for ministry leaders.

As a former Executive Director, I’ve worked with Boards that were simply incredible!  They loved our ministry passionately and generously. They respected my role and the staff who worked so hard and showed it in lovely ways. They made courageous and faith-filled decisions to move the ministry into kingdom work we never dreamed we could do.  They made me so very proud to be working with such an extraordinary group of people!

On the flip side, other Board members I’ve worked with were just incredibly awful.  They didn’t trust my leadership or our staff, they micro-managed, or never cared enough to even know what was happening.  They made me cry over my dinners and dread the following days.

You might know what I’m talking about?

If you find yourself entering this new year with tension or conflicts within your Board, you are not alone.

A few months ago, we caught up with Dan Lewis from The River Foundation & CEO of Next To Lead to get his advice on how to resolve Board disagreements effectively. He has some encouraging tips to share.


For more faith-based nonprofit resources, visit www.MinistryVentures.org 


Cindy McDaniel, MV Coach


The Best Version of Yourself in 2019

 The Best Version of Yourself in 2019


  1. Grow friendship with God at a greater pace than growing your ministry and discover His provision and power in all you do.


  1. Notice what energizes you and what depletes you, make adjustments and do more of the former.


  1. Become more aware of the false self which says “I am what I do”, “I am what I have”, “I am what other people say and think about me” and dethrone it.


  1. Create space for more silence and solitude in your days, weeks, months.  Detach from the noise and distraction, attach to God’s heart in the stillness and grow more confident in His love for you.


  1. Understand that the best thing to bring to your leadership is a transformed self, so be true to practices and rhythms that fill you and ask, “what does my soul long for?”


For more faith-based nonprofit resources, visit www.MinistryVentures.org 

Beth Bennett, Director of Coaching



Little Things

Little Things You Can Do To Invest Big In Donor Care:

• Thank them with a hand-written note. This is one of the coolest things you can receive in our digital age.

• Treat each donation as the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

• Keep your message simple and emotional. Being complicated doesn’t make something better. In fact, complexity makes it less likely you’ll be remembered when you ask for money next time.

• Thank before you Bank! Send a thank you text, call, email or letter FAST.

• Send a custom greeting card rather than a letter on your stationary.

• Always include a ministry progress update, no matter how small.

• Send a “Behind the Scenes” post card of your ministry in action.

• Send a short video from your smart phone of your ministry in action.

• Send reports on how their gift is being used-clarify specific details around ministry impact.

• Change who is saying “Thank you”.

• Develop a “donor centric” style of communication, how do your givers prefer to be communicated with? Ask your givers how they would like updates on the work of your ministry.

• Ask how you can pray for them.

• Pray for them...text a scripture with a prayer.

• Give gifts (books, gift cards, CD’s, DVD’s) on special occasions: births, anniversaries, birthdays.

• Take to dinner as couples.

• Travel as couples: marriage retreats, Generous Giving, mission trip, vacation, etc.

• Introduce to others in your network.

• Turn Thursday into “Thank You Thursday” and make thanking people a part of your weekly routine.

• Say no to form letters.

• Call to ask how they are doing and what they are working on.  Be interested in their lives, not just their donations.

• Send iPhone videos that are personal. They don’t have to be well-produced… authentic is actually better.

• Information is a huge form of appreciation.  Treat donors like insiders and make sure they know what’s coming well before the general public.

• Send helpful resources.  Links to articles, book recommendations, etc.  It shows you’re thinking of them and helps them grow as individuals.


For more faith-based nonprofit resources, visit www.MinistryVentures.org 

Questions? Contact me anytime!

Emily Fitchpatrick, Director of Client Services