Spring Into Action

Dear Christian Radio…

Do you find yourself asking a lot more questions in recent months?  I most definitely have wondered—and still do—how to navigate a year filled with uncertainty, change, disruption and division. James 1:5 reads:

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously
to all without reproach, and it will be given him

As we rolled into spring, the one thing we did have clarity over was ‘normal’ ceased to exist.  I woke up, like many, on a Monday morning with a new office from home policy. My grocery shopping moved to online pickup. My salon cancelled a hair appointment, and shuttered its doors like many businesses. Those who listen to us were adjusting to virtual school, juggling work demands and home life simultaneously. Let’s not forget the good that has surfaced…as family dinners resume, game nights are back, family video chats giving craved connection, bicycle sales soaring and loving our neighbor taking on new meaning.

I want to share with you a few things I learned, as we weaved through March and into summer.  Those who know me well understand that I am a planner.  I’m the proud owner of a Simplified Planner.  I love making lists, mapping out projects, reading data to make informed decisions. This year has challenged me to accept that sometimes you have to release your best laid plans, embrace risk over certainty, and trust your gut—insert narrator: “…of course, she was always seeking God’s face.”

My calendar said that our fundraising season would officially launch on Monday, March 23.  I woke up one morning in early March and knew that we needed to re-think our spring fundraising season.  Sure of only one thing, that our leadership team would think I had lost my mind, I presented to them a thought that perhaps we should delay until mid-April, possibly May. It is important to lift our eyes from our agendas and spreadsheets, so we truly see the people our plans are meant to impact. A virus that was being whispered about on the West Coast was starting to cause flight cancellations, closed borders and stay at home advisories. Before long, our nightly news contained a daily graphic that updated us with virus cases and deaths.  Everything in me said that we needed to turn our efforts toward loving our neighbor, not fulfilling our goals.  Our listener was still grappling with how to juggle their ‘new normal’.  Our fiscal bottom line paled in comparison to their daily grind.

Our first decision was to delay our fundraising launch, hitting pause for two weeks and then re-assessing. That led us to adjusting our start date to May 19 for Phase I and June 26 for Phase II.   Our second decision was to shift our focus solely to connection and care.  Every team member was given a segment of our donor list and encouraged to reach out with a phone call, email, text message or even a written note. The amazing PAR team engaged with thousands of donors as they prayed together, cried over loss, encouraged and offered hope for the days ahead. We sat alongside those who were furloughed, recently unemployed, as well as the fearful, anxious and weary.  One of my life quotes is:

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” 
~Theodore Roosevelt

For seven weeks, we simply sat in the dirt with those who needed us to simply be present.  We took sharing life together to a whole new level, from our very own makeshift kitchen table and basement offices.

Our theme for our spring fundraising season was “Yes, I Will”.  I encourage you to read the lyrics to the amazing song penned by Vertical Worship.  As we prepared for mid-May, every PAR team member braved sharing their story of how they were choosing to bless His name and lift Him high, even in their lowest valleys.  You see, even as we navigated a pandemic, we had team members who were diagnosed with cancer…some losing loved ones to the virus…others navigating their own uncertainties.  Add to it a year that has been rife with political and racial division, we knew we had to keep our focus on Christ and giving Him glory. It is no exaggeration when I say that God stirred hearts which led to exceeded goals and record numbers of new gifts from people who hadn’t given for upward of two years!

My challenge to you: be willing to throw out your plans.  Be mindful of what is, rather than wasting your energy wishing for what you scripted.  I’m blessed to serve alongside our VP of Programming, Frankie Morea. Together we crafted messaging that made clear we were more interested in hearts than money.  Do the next right thing and trust that God will honor your efforts.  We are called to love our neighbors, as much as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39).  I am not saying that we should simply sit back and trust God.  Through good stewardship and wise planning, hopefully you have reserve funding that can carry you through times when you might need to delay approaching donors for funding.

When we choose to lay down our own lives and love His people the way He does, amazing things are possible.  This is what I’ve seen in 2020, a year that has been labeled as both a dumpster fire and unprecedented.  These are the moments where your mission has to be more than a nice thought hanging on the wall in some hallway.  We never surrendered our focus on inspiring people to live passionately for Jesus Christ.  I’ll end with a thought that has carried me far in my years of donor care:

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

~Maya Angelou

May we reflect on 2020 and know that those we were blessed to encounter were left better than we found them and Christ was glorified.

Dear Christian Radio:

1) Engage in the life of your donor.
2) Be willing to throw out your plans.
3) Good stewardship of donor funds gives breathing room.
4) Messaging is key.

Kayla Sanders
Vice President of Partner Services
Positive Alternative Radio

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