Taking Donors Seriously (TDS)

Taking Donors Seriously

Dear Partner in Ministry,

Tony Campolo once said “Young Life is expert at going to where young people are.”

I like to think that’s true. We take our commitment to young people very seriously. We meet them on their turf and build significant relationships with them. We go out of our way to care for them. We do what it takes to ‘win the right to be heard’ so that we may share the love of Jesus Christ with them.

But can we say the same thing of our donors? What about our volunteers? How much effort do we put into caring for these people?

In Australia, I think Young Life has a mixed record on this. We’ve certainly had our failings where donors and volunteers have felt more ‘used’ than valued as partners. But with each failing, I think we’ve also learned to do things a bit differently.

The bottom line is we must be as committed to caring for donors and volunteers as much as we are to caring for young people.

That’s what Taking Donors Seriously (TDS) is all about. It’s a set of guiding principles that helps shape our thinking about what it means to find and truly partner with donors. It may also help clarify committee roles as each member takes a deeper look at their skills and what they can do to make a difference.

This handbook has been adapted from our USA counterparts. We have a few different ‘philosophies’ and have adapted these for an Australian context. Overall, they’re on to something. They too have a mixed record with their donors. And like us, they have learned and want to do things differently.

Thank you for your valued partnership in reaching young people all around Australia. I hope you will find this handbook helpful in our journey together.

Kind Regards,

Mark Stretton
Chief Executive Officer
Young Life Australia


The Financial Master Plan

The Financial Master Plan (FMP) is simply a calendar that identifies when each aspect of the Strategy will take place during the year.

We have set out an example below.

Please note – this is an example only; the plan will vary for each Area. With all the activity, it is easy to see why it is critical that a TDS team is in place. It is too much work for just one person. But split between a committed team of four, including the Area Manager, it can be quite achievable.

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Download a Blank Calendar


Monthly thank you activity: One region in the United States issued a challenge to all committees to consider incorporating monthly thank activities in their Financial Master Plan. The challenge was met with great success. Those areas who implemented such a program found phone calls and personal meeting invitations much easier to make. People were more willing to talk or meet and as a result, overall fundraising increased. It may be a lot of work, but please consider how your Area might do something similar.

We encourage all areas to do their own newsletters. But they are also a big commitment. Given that national also produces one four times per year, you can probably get away with just 2 per year, coupled with regular (monthly or quarterly) prayer emails. This keeps everyone informed on local ministry activities. If you choose to do more, be consistent!