Frankenmuth, Michigan—Founded in 1893, Lutheran Homes of Michigan provides residential living and home care services to seniors of all faiths and backgrounds. Headquartered in Frankenmuth, Michigan, the organization has more than 800 residential and living units state-wide and serves roughly 2,500 people every year.
Lutheran Homes of Michigan had been signed on with Benevon for one year when Al Kaul began as the executive director, but he quickly discovered that the model wasn't actually being followed.
"I wanted to have a clear method for how you go about fundraising," Kaul says of his decision to begin implementing the model.
Under Kaul's leadership, Lutheran Homes of Michigan began holding two Point of Entry tours, "Aging Enriched Experiences," every month at two locations.
The organization also began hosting Ask Events, which Kaul says have been instructive.
"We realized how important it is to involve people we serve in the events. Golf outings by nature excluded the people we serve—hospice patients, nursing home residents. But a one-hour luncheon—that's appealing to a lot of people. It created a positive buzz about us in the community," he says.
At its last Ask Event, Lutheran Homes of Michigan raised $101,000. Kaul is quick to point out that those dollars will remain in one geographic area. The $30,000 generated by golf outings that the organization had previously relied upon had to be spread across all of Lutheran Homes of Michigan's geographic areas.
One of the greatest lessons Benevon has taught Kaul and his team has been the importance of sharing effective information with donors.
"Benevon has caused us to be very intentional with how to pair up money and what the money does," he says. "Just saying, 'Thank you for the donation' doesn't tell donors anything. We learned that you have to stop and say what that donation will do. So now we say, 'Your gift of $1,000 a year will send five residents to Camp Hope,' for instance."
Donors recently received such a letter from Kaul that detailed personal experiences and anecdotes from Camp Hope, a bereavement camp for young children who have lost a loved one. Overnight, Kaul's e-mail inbox became flooded with responses from donors.
Kaul and his team also realized the importance of getting to know their donors. When it came time to plan Free Feel-Good Cultivation Events, the team generated a survey that gave multiple-year donors a chance to supply information like how often and what days of the week would be most preferred for such events.
"The number one thing people asked for was to be part of a service project," says Kaul. "We were floored. We had never even thought to offer that opportunity before. Knowing that has given us a new spark."
Cultivation efforts will be used to increase the number of Multiple-Year Giving Society Donors to 100 people in each one of Lutheran Homes of Michigan's geographic areas. That many donors would sustain unfunded programs, like a bereavement retreat for families.
Kaul says that ultimately the money raised is less important than the approach the Benevon Model allows his team to take.
"Knowing what I know about Benevon, I think we would be using it even if we weren't raising as much money because of the community that we are. The work that we do and the fundraising with Benevon connects in our faith-life. Our belief is that God is a God of abundance, not scarcity. We see ourselves in assisting others in reaching their goals to give, not making them feel badly enough about the desperate situation we're in. That is a very different perspective."
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