Remember that song from the group who called themselves Barenaked Ladies?

Every time I hear someone mention “a million dollars,” the song “If I Had a Million Dollars” runs through my mind. So, realizing this week’s installment focuses on Development to round out another series of the five ARMED elements involved in Advancement, let’s raise a million dollars.

It’s easy.

I’ll bet you said, “Yeah – sure.”

But you have to consider three things (there are always at least three, until you realize that three leads to four, and four leads to five, which completes the system):

1) I didn’t say how long it would take (note how everyone assumes that everything happens right away);

2) I didn’t say how we’d do it (but it’s legal and every legitimate development department has someone who specializes in activities like this); and

3) You don’t have to get specialized training or help (like you may have to get with grant writing).  Here’s all you need – 40 people in good health that can give your school $60 a year (only $5 a month), and an insurance agent that specializes in life insurance (I’m sure there’s one of them in your school’s parent community).

These 40 people agree to take out term life insurance policies on themselves for $25,000, naming the school as the beneficiary. 40 x $25,000 = $1,000,000. The school receives the funds upon the death of the individuals.

For individuals that hear of this for the very first time, reactions range from “that’s just morbid,” to “that’s funny – now, what’s the real plan?”

It’s neither.

In its most simplistic form, this is an example of “Planned Giving.”

Specialists in this area of development speak to individuals about annuities, or leaving bequests to organizations upon their passing. I’m sure we’ve all seen memorializations in churches, universities, hospitals and other institutions. Some people have buildings, wings of buildings or programs named after them. Indeed some of these individuals and families have decided to do great things with their blessings.

But even the most common individuals, when they work as a community, can do great things.

It seems we’ve forgotten that “United, we stand.”  That’s supported by Scripture, too, in reference to our faith community: “Apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

It helps to remember that Development is a ministry – it’s a ministry to the rich, to those who have been abundantly blessed. They, as well as you and l, are ALL called to share our gifts – and to those that much has been given, much will be expected.

Further evidence that it’s a ministry is found in Scripture, which says that the way we use our gifts and talents is how we get to heaven. The basis is in the Gospel of Matthew, where Jesus states, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that [is what] you do unto me” (Matthew 25:40).

Choose to do what’s good…for others.  Start building your school’s endowment today with this first step into planned giving.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2006-2024