Archives For non-profit

Every fall charities across the United States hold fundraising galas to provide for a large chunk of their annual budget. They rely on the generosity of donors who give $10-$10,000 gifts to get them through the holidays and the following year.

As a partner in the Four12 Group (what’s that?), I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to work with several of these organizations in helping them develop content, themes, speeches, printed materials, scripts for the “ask” and more. I’m honored to have been able to help them in their fundraising efforts. Watch this CBS47 (Fresno News Station) spot featuring one of these events.

There are dozens of challenges in fundraising gala events, but here are two that we try to address when we work with an organization.

  1. People don’t really know what the organization does.
    For example, people think the Fresno Rescue Mission is a soup kitchen. While they provide meals for people everyday, they are much more than that. They provide services to get people from the street back into mainstream life as a productive and contributing citizen. [Want to know what the Fresno Rescue Mission does? Watch this.]
  2. People know you’re about to ask them for money, so they come in with a predetermined defensive wall.
    They know they are going to be moved to give, but they don’t want to give away the farm, and they shouldn’t. But they can probably give more than they think they can. Helping them to take down their defensive wall can help with that.

The following video was written and produced by the Four12 Group with the help of some actors and volunteers from Clovis Hills Community Church. It was intended to help facilitate the lightening-up of the crowd. It was shot with british-humor and it was created for the Fresno Rescue Mission’s annual fundraising gala. It’s quite fancy.

If you are involved with an organization that puts on a fancy fundraising gala, we purposely made this video generic enough for you to use. Please inquire by emailing

Fresno Rescue Mission

January 17, 2014 — Leave a comment

Fresno Rescue Mission - Four12 Group
For the past two years the Four12 Group (What’s that?), has had the opportunity to work with the Fresno Rescue Mission on their annual fundraising gala. We’ve helped them create videos, program their evening, run certain aspects of the event and witness amazing stories of life change. The work they are doing in our community is incredible. The staff is genuine, their services are effective and it’s a great place to volunteer and give to support their mission. This past fall we shot and produced a video that helps inform people about what the FRM actually does. Most people would know about one or two of their services, but Rob Cravy, COO says it best.

What the rescue mission provides is generational change. We have the ability with all the services that we provide to give life change, not only to the ricky-rescue that is here today. But the family that he’s directly affecting when he gets home.

Watch the full video we created here:

We love our two cities (Fresno/Clovis) and we want to help local organizations maximize their story-telling capabilities. If you work with a great organization, let’s talk. First, I’d love to feature what you do on this blog and I’d love to see how Four12 can help you tell your unique story. Contact the Four12 Group here.

You may also like our videos from the 2012 Fresno Rescue Mission fundraising gala.

Who is our Customer?

July 24, 2013 — 1 Comment


Legally speaking, churches are non-profit businesses.

Though, as a church planter, it’s hard to swallow the idea that the church is a business, because that sounds so formal, so rigid, so not-the-church. Nevertheless, you have to do some “businessy” things as a trust-worthy, ethical, legally-sound non-profit. Things like pay attention to trends, numbers, charts and P&L statements and on and on. And I for one am glad we do.

But there’s one assumption people often get wrong when they think about the church as a business. In fact, it is an assumption that gets a lot of churches into a lot of trouble. Not financially or legally, but it comes into direct conflict with the mission of the church — which is the mission of Jesus:

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

Luke 19:10

Understand me when I say, “I can not save anyone.” But I can seek and I can arrange “dates” between people and Jesus. That’s why our mission at Two Cities Church is to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

So, what’s the bad assumption then?

I’ve sat in board meetings at churches where great men said things like:

  • “You’ve got to take care of your customers”
  • “You’re customers are the ones who will keep this thing going, so make them happy”
  • “Your mission is to help as many customers as possible achieve their dreams”

Now, I don’t think these are necessarily bad things, but there are two problems with these statements:

  1. If you’re on the board, don’t use “you” statements. Use “us” “our” and “we”
  2. Who are these men assuming the customers are?

There are many kinds of churches, but one way to classify them all is by this simple measure:

Are they more concerned with reaching people or keeping people? 

In a traditional for-profit business your customers are those who buy your product or service. In a traditional, off-mission, church the customers are the givers and they are the most important people in the room at all times. But what’s the difference between that and a country-club? If you want a country-club where people pay for membership and to be valued, go join one. There’s no room for that in a church.

But in a great, on-mission, church… making the givers happy is not the main thing. In an on-mission church, a church that is all about the mission of Jesus, you don’t concentrate all your time and efforts on those who are already a part of the church. In fact, you spend a lot of time and resources engaging the people who need a relationship with Jesus.

Let’s take it one step further. I submit to you that a great on-mission church should actually view it’s board, leadership, staff members, givers and servers all as part of the staff. Every part of the church works together to be a part of the body of Jesus, which is the church — a body of people, not a building. (I know, a strange concept for a body of people to be the body of a person…but check it out here.) So, who’s left to be a customer? That leaves two groups:

  • Attenders who are not yet engaged beyond sitting in rows
  • Guests

If you’re a part of a church, you should not view yourself as a customer of that church that comes to get filled up. You are part of the body, you are a volunteer employee of that church, you are a vital part of the mission and you fund it. You don’t come to merely get filled up by some music, preaching and hang-out time. You come to help create the environment that inspires the attenders, guests and “volunteer staff” to take a step towards faith or a step in deepening their relationship with Jesus and others.

So with that new framework, new paradigm in mind…if you are a part of a church, who is that church’s customer?

Still not convinced? Let me make it clear, legally, if your church considers itself a non-profit and it provides a good or service in exchange for tax-deductible donations — the organization could be fined anywhere from $10 per donation to $5,000 per fundraising event. (Check it out) Those laws are there for a reason AND they just so happen to help us keep the eye on the ball. It’s not all about keeping the giver happy, it’s about the giver and the rest of the church working together to accomplish the mission of Jesus Christ.