Department of Philanthropy celebrates productive first year

In the single year since his appointment as executive director of philanthropy, Dr. Holland Hendrix has criss-crossed Canada, met many Anglicans, and laid a solid groundwork for new fundraising initiatives at parish, diocesan, and national levels. Also hard at work are a team of seven staff in the Department of Philanthropy, who are supporting the long-term plan to achieve sustained financial equilibrium for the whole church.

Here are some highlights from this first year of work:

Partnerships with dioceses

The Department of Philanthropy supports the financial health of the whole church—not just the national office. It works closely with parishes and dioceses and helps them set up plans to increase fundraising capacity in their particular contexts.

The department offers dioceses and parishes several kinds of services and support. As Mr. Hendrix explains, “We’re helping them develop their strategic plans, their resource development plans, and in a couple of places we inaugurated annual funds.”

At the outset,  the department already had four official, fruitful partnerships with dioceses through the Letting Down the Nets initiative. Over the past year it has forged 13 more.

At the last House of Bishops meeting, several bishops spontaneously gave positive testimonies about the Department of Philanthropy and urged their colleagues to start their own partnerships with the department.

This was very encouraging to Mr. Hendrix, who received handfuls of business cards after this presentation. “What I think we’ve managed to do is really rebuild a spirit of trust and mutual support with the dioceses we’re working with,” he said.

Bequest identification process

One cooperative project between the department and dioceses is a national bequest identification initiative, which will ask people to identify if they are giving to Anglican entities (General Synod, the Anglican Foundation, parishes etc.) in their wills. Over the next two years, most Canadian Anglicans will receive a joint letter from the Primate and their diocesan bishop requesting this information.

The initiative will be useful in anticipating future funds, but it will also encourage the church.  “I’m hoping is that this will boost the morale of the church nation-wide,” said Mr. Hendrix. “I think if people see that there are significant resources committed to the church in the long term then that would help people feel good about what they’re doing and good about the future.”

Canadian Anglicans are already very generous in their bequests. Many name their parishes, dioceses, the national church, or other Anglican entities in their wills.

Within the past year and a half, two major bequests of over $1 million each have helped General Synod preserve programs during times of declining revenues. Archdeacon John Robertson, national gift planning officer, laid foundations for these bequests through personal visits and education about the creative ways people can give in their wills. In fact, one of these bequests was a result of a gift planning seminar Mr. Robertson gave over 20 years ago.

“Our planned giving program continues to be an extremely successful part of our work,” said Mr. Hendrix, “Even though it’s long term and often very understated, it has a huge impact on the quality of our life and work as a national church.”

Major gifts program

The Department of Philanthropy is pioneering a major gifts program as an important new revenue stream for the church. One of Mr. Hendrix’s first projects once he arrived at General Synod was to form a Council of Advice, a volunteer group of what he calls “arguably the best Canadian Anglican fundraisers alive.” This council has been acting as a national major gifts committee, researching and soliciting major gifts (of over $50,000) from selected individuals.

The council’s work is already paying off. By the end of this fiscal year they will have made six to eight gift solicitations. Several major gifts have already come in this year, but often the details are not made public because donors wish to remain anonymous.

Working with donors is a long-term relationship-building process. The Department of Philanthropy often helps donors decide how to can support the ministries they’re passionate about, whether it’s overseas partnerships or Indigenous leadership. Often the donor wants to contribute to several areas at once, so discerning these donations can be a cooperative process between the parish priest, the bishop, and a national representative.

The Council of Advice has jump-started the church’s major gift program, but there’s much work to be done. “I don’t want to raise false expectations,” said Mr. Hendrix. “Raising money through major gifts takes time.” Currently Canon Geoff Jackson is the only senior development officer at General Synod, and Mr. Hendrix hopes that eventually this work will fund the creation of another gifts officer position.

Looking ahead

The Department of Philanthropy has been blessed with many successes this year, and will work to enhance these projects and develop others, including a coordinated national fundraising initiative. Mr. Hendrix says that one of the things that keeps them energized is the “fresh wind” that he sees blowing through the church.

“The National Indigenous Anglican Bishop calls it a spiritual movement that I think is being generated, and stirred up mostly among Indigenous peoples,” he explained. “It’s bringing some changes, and the changes are going to be scary, but I think in the long run, they’re going to be transformative for the Canadian Anglican church and I feel that palpably. The Department of Philanthropy is doing everything it can to facilitate that spirit’s manifestation.”

For more information about the department and their services, email Michelle Frost, executive assistant, Department of Philanthropy.

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