“It’s All About Relationships”

twobly_picCaspari Center hosted a seminar on fundraising in the beginning of November. At the two-day seminar, 16 participants were introduced to key development topics to help their non-profit organizations achieve their funding goals. The seminar was led by Gerald H. Twombly, founder and executive director of Development Marketing Associates (DMA), an international consulting group committed to assisting churches, evangelical ministries, and Christian colleges and schools in areas relating to organizational development.


Jerry Twombly is a visionary from Indianapolis who has spent 45 years in the practice of organizational development. During that time he has provided professional counsel to over 3,500 organizations throughout the US and in over 50 countries around the world. Known throughout the world as “the architect of relational development,” this graduate of Miami Bible College and Grace Theological Seminary doesn’t view himself as a fundraiser. “Development is all about relationships,” says Twombly.

Most would say that development is fundraising. Twombly teaches that development is the things we do to build sustainable, long-term relationships with people, and that successful fundraising is not a focus but a consequence of building healthy and biblical, God-honoring organizations and ministries. “To the degree that you are successful in building relationships and effectively engaging people in pursuit of your vision, you will not tend to lack for money nor will you tend to lack people who will hear you,” he says.


In order to help ministries achieve their vision and funding goals, Jerry Twombly has created a five-step model upon which to build. “If you understand the philosophy of the model and build upon it, you will be successful in building relationships,” he stated. Twombly explained his model by drawing an analogy from a relationship that develops and ends in marriage: “The greatest analogy of development is falling in love.” He then discussed the critical steps of the development process by defining and simplifying them.


twomblu_pic_smallThe first step in the process is to identify your prospects, those groups of individuals with whom you could build relationships. The potential prospects are many, because every person you meet is surrounded by others with whom he has influence (spouse, children, colleagues, personal friends, people at church, and a host of others). The second step in the model is to qualify your prospects. Whenever you categorize a prospect by the closeness of his association with you, you have qualified him.

The third step is cultivation, and it can be compared to courtship. Good cultivation strategies can make a positive difference. “When you asked your spouse to marry you, my guess is you were pretty assured she would say ‘yes,’ weren’t you?” goes Twombly’s analogy. In other words, when cultivation has been successful, solicitation will be successful. “I never ask people to invest (time, energy, finances) in an organization I represent until I know they are ready,” he continues.


Sustaining the relationship is as important as building it. A sustainable, long-term partnership is built when the transition from an emotional relationship to a rational one has occurred. The important thing is to pursue the relationship for the right reasons. Growing ministries and accomplishing what God has placed in our hearts to do takes place through communication, involvement, and appreciation, one relationship at a time.