Amid all the talk at General Convention about creating a new office by the same name, it turns out there’s already something called the Development Office. It even has an official web presence, despite not having a director of development or much funding from the convention or the Executive Council.
So how can the Stewardship and Development Committee concern itself with Resolutions D024 and D025 for a Development Office to oversee large-scale funding and mission financing for the national Church, when we already have one?
The answer is complicated. Here’s some history:
Over the last decade, a Mission Funding Office was begun and goals were given for raising significant financial resources for the Church. Despite an allocation of $1.5 million during the last triennium, and an almost exclusive focus on the Archives of the Episcopal Church project, the Mission Funding Office did not meet expectations.
In July 2011, the current project manager for fundraising, Elizabeth Lowell, took charge to help shape the conversation at this convention, while continuing to work on the Archives project. It became clear to Lowell that the Episcopal Church was not attracting enough large donors in comparison to other mainline denominations.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have between 10 and 16 full-time, highly qualified gift officers who bring in over $1 million each for mission projects and other restricted and unrestricted funds. These denominational offices have become a centralized place for attracting large donations. That’s precisely what the Mission Funding Office, now named the Development Office, was created to do.
Lowell and Deputy Ted Mollegen, Connecticut, believe it’s imperative to establish a more focused Development Office with goals similar to those of the earlier effort. The main difference would be budgetary. In order to be attract highly qualified fund-raisers similar to those at other denominations, hospitals and non-profits, the new Development Office must be able to compete financially. Says Lowell, “We haven’t been successful before because we haven’t hired professional staff, but the Lutherans and Presbyterians have done this because they have hired professional staff.” Accordingly, the requested budget of $3.7 million over the next triennium would go to hiring a seasoned director of development, two full-time researchers, two full-time gift officers and professional-grade development database software.
It’s still uncertain how much money the new office, if approved, would receive. However, the Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel, bishop of Olympia and chair of the Stewardship and Development Committee, is optimistic that an amended version of Resolution D025 will be approved by convention. “This is finally something that will work the way we need and want it to.”