A presentation by Viken Mikaelian from plannedgiving.com intrigued me and brought a smile to my face. Why? Because in one of the photos in his PowerPoint presentation he showed nameplates over urinals.
Now, this might seem crazy but a recent discussion about this topic took place on AFP Connect. Someone asked if it might seem well, unseemly, to raise funds to build better visitor bathrooms at an athletic field. The majority of respondents said, “Not at all!”
One, Z. Allen Abbott, Ph.D., who is the Philanthropy Specialist for Community Advancement at Cypress Cove in FL, in the USA shared this marvelous story.
Couldn’t resist telling you that the first capital items I ever needed to raise money for were restrooms! I was pastoring a small church in rural Indiana and everyone agreed this was the one project that we wished would go away. It was an embarrassment, especially when we had a social event with lots of guests visiting the church for the first time.
We added some additional space, not just restrooms, for childcare and classrooms. We put it in the context of becoming a more welcoming congregation for young families (which every church wants). We happened to be deliberately going through a generational shift in our leadership, too. So the older folks who were going to be giving the majority of the funds saw this as a way to make the church facility more family-friendly. The younger adults, who were rising in leadership and growing their own families, were able to make a compelling case. It became a vision for the future of the church.
We made a big deal out of it, using a ceremonial shovel that was spray-painted gold and was used by previous generations for expansion projects. We invited the denominational dignitaries for the groundbreaking and the eventual dedication ceremony. We drew from biblical stories of the Temple being built and then rebuilt after the exile.
When I’m not consulting or teaching I volunteer within the community. Our church is about to launch a campaign and one of the top items on the list is bathrooms. Ours are postage stamps or are on the lower level and are not accessible in any sense of the word. They don’t work well for the young or the elders of our church or the many visitors who come through our doors for various events. We also believe that many don’t visit because the church isn’t particularly accessible.
So, be not afraid, raise funds for those bathrooms, urinals, toilets and all! You might even come up with a catchy tagline similar to that offered by one discussion participant, “When You’ve Got to Go, You’ve Got to Go!”
Go, raise money, make life better for those whom you serve!