Why is it so important to follow the basic Campus Ministry model for doing Vision Dinners? Isn’t it possible my community is different?
The current model employed by the Campus Ministry was not incorporated until it had proven itself over decades of testing in major and minor communities in the United States and abroad. Every component of this model has been picked apart and evaluated frontwards and backwards and has stood the test of time. The evaluation process included many of the Cru ministries and thousands of ministries outside of Cru. The current model that is being used takes the best of every dinner model ever employed and lumps those components into one concise, effective product that will work no matter where the dinner is held in the U.S.
Former CFM Executive Director, Bob Francis, once stated, “The current dinner model is much like the 4-Spiritual Laws. If followed word for word, the end result will be great. If altered, the outcome may be a disaster.” To break the model down, the process is similar to baking a cake. If all the correct ingredients are obtained and added in precise sequence, the end result will be a thing of beauty. If added together incorrectly, even the best ingredients will lead to disaster. The same is true for the dinner model currently employed.
The next most important factor to remember is that even though every community is different, human nature stays the same – and has remained the same since the dawn of time. People (Staff and ministry partners) will often say things like, “Friday or Saturday is not a good night to do a dinner in our city”, or “that menu won’t work in our part of the country” or “asking in that manner will never work with our friends”. The fact is, we have created this model to touch the hearts and minds of as many people as we can. As Christians, we are motivated by a handful of key elements – incorporated into every dinner we do – and thus, the model works in every location.
Why a Vision Dinner and not something like an auction, walk-a-thon or golf marathon?
First, it is important to understand that what we are about is development or “friend-raising” and not fundraising. Most strategies like auctions, walk/jog-a-thons or golf events are fundraising in nature and aren’t based in relationship building. They do bring in money, but not long-term money and certainly not long-term relationships. In addition, for some of these alternate strategies, the gifts are not 100% tax-deductible like they are with the dinner. If a product or service is given, the value of that must be deducted from the partner’s gift. See Cru Policies and Procedures For Events. In reality, when the cost is counted, alternate strategies take more time, yield less net income, and don’t develop relationships as well as the Vision Dinner Strategy.
Why do you refer to this event as a Vision Dinner rather than a banquet or fund-raising dinner? And do you have to call it a 'Vision Dinner'?
In our society, the term “banquet” conjures up thoughts of a church basement, a “rubber” chicken meal and a high-pressured speaker employing strong-armed tactics to raise money. That is the furthest thing from what we hope to portray. Your goal is threefold: appreciation, inspiration and challenge. You hope to appreciate those partners who have labored with you up to this point. You want to inspire current and new donors with messages, testimonies and songs. And last, you want to challenge people to partner with you financially, and then in other ways. Your main focus will never be on dollars. Out of a 2 hour and 15 minute program, you only address giving for 15 minutes (including completing the envelopes). That does not make this event a fundraiser. The greatest amount of time is spent appreciating and inspiring those in attendance. You never hide the fact that you will ask for money – your invitation makes that clear – but you won’t make it the major focus of your time. You want this to be an event they look forward to and, if possible, an event that is the high point of their year spiritually. Remember, the average Christian sees 2-3 people accept Christ in their church each year and thinks that is very satisfying – you are showing them much more than that, which should be an incredible inspiration to them.
We recently updated our terminology from 'Fellowship Dinner' to 'Vision Dinner'. Don't get caught up on using the exact term 'Vision Dinner'. In fact, these dinners have been called many things throughout the past decades including 'Fellowship', 'Victory', and 'Celebration' Dinners. What's most important is that you choose a name that sufficiently casts vision for your desire to appreciate and inspire your guests.
Why must you begin your dinner planning by first contacting local Development staff? Can't you just do a dinner without outside help?
Certainly, you can start a dinner without outside help, or even continue a current strategy without help. But just as with any major endeavor, it is always important to get the advice and counsel of those who have 'been down this path before'. Cru's Development Coordinators and National Directors of Development are those who have done tens, hundreds or even thousands of these dinners. They understand your concerns, frustrations, and challenges because they have experienced many of them themselves. Development staff exist to serve local staff and, as such, will do everything possible to help you access the latest updated development tools and resources. They have your best interest at heart.