The Office of Development: A ministry for the whole church

It is not so much a change in the strategy of how the church seeks out resources, as it is a quantum shift in how we position ourselves in the competitive world of fundraising. It is other things too.

It is a plan aimed at benefiting the whole church from the smallest parishes, to the largest dioceses, to the General Synod. It is a plan to eliminate the vexing situation where an Anglican Church member and supporter is deluged by envelopes and solicitations for various activities and programs the difference between which he or she is often hard pressed to find and to know.

It is above all an admission by the church that ministry at all levels from the simplest parish program to the most sophisticated national gathering does not happen without resources—without money. It is a recognition that as much as the church may flinch in embarrassment at acknowledging the importance of resources, finding those resources is often among the first steps required to fulfil our mission.

And it is an admission that in the world of fundraising, expertise and focus can bring success where folksy fumbling most often falls short of required goals.

The proposed Office of Development, funding for which is included in the 2008 General Synod budget which the Council of General Synod has just approved, is to be the cornerstone of how the church moves forward in seeking out resources for the foreseeable future.

The Anglican Church of Canada, says Robert Dickson of General Synod’s Financial Management and Development Committee, has never tried anything like this. “This is not a financial campaign like Anglicans in Mission, and it is not a continuation of Letting Down the Nets although we have learned lessons throughout our financial history. This is a new approach.”

It is an all-encompassing approach aimed at making things simpler for people to give in the amounts they wish and in the ways most appropriate for them and also making it simpler for them to support the specific work of the church which they wish to support.

Importantly, the new office has already gained the support of the Council of the North, made up of 10 assisted dioceses most involved with ministry in the North. The council got approval from General Synod last summer to do its own fundraising, and the chair, Bishop David Ashdown of Keewatin, sees the Office of Development as the principal vehicle through which this can happen.

One of the foundations for the concept of a development office, says General Synod Treasurer Peter Blachford, was a report commissioned last year that looked at how the church makes public appeals for funds. The consultant found a lot of confusion and irritation among Anglicans about the several appeals that they receive—including the Anglican Appeal and the Anglican Journal Appeal as well as requests from the Anglican Foundation and the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund.

The conclusion of that report was that both the church and its members would be better served by a more integrated approach that would also allow donors to earmark their contributions towards specific ministries.

With CoGS’s approval of the 2008 budget presented by the Financial Management and Development Committee, Mr. Blachford says he hopes that a director for the new office can be found and hired by summer. This person will coordinate all of the church’s fund raising activities, be a member of Management Team and report to the General Secretary.

The timing of this initiative is crucial, Mr. Blachford says. As the church looks to 2008, it does so with a new Primate at the helm, with a new National Indigenous Bishop now in office and gaining national recognition, and with the implementation of a renegotiated residential schools agreement that will bring significant refunds to some dioceses.

It is, as the Primate has said, a time of transition and an appropriate time for the church to embark on a project of this scope.

The vision for the Office of Development is of something that will work more effectively than the present system as a resource for the whole church at all levels. The time is right, and with CoGS’s approval of the 2008 budget, the vision will move forward.

Vianney (Sam) Carriere is director of communications for the Anglican Church of Canada.

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