On October 14, Anselm director Brian Brown met with patrons, member artists, and interested guests at the Wild Goose Meeting House in Colorado Springs to review the short and long-term plans for the Society. Here is a brief summary of the key points.
To talk of a renaissance of the Christian imagination is to embark on a project to rebuild Christianity as a human-shaping force. It is to recognize the daunting array of pieces that must be in place to properly prepare a person to do anything well, to acknowledge that those pieces must come as part of a coherent whole in a community with authority structures, traditions, aesthetics, etc., and to commit to the growth (and, where needed, construction) of the institutions, leadership, values, and practices to make it all a reality.
That's what we're doing. We remain committed to our core community in Colorado (especially Colorado Springs), and to a multifaceted approach that allows for the development of people, relationships, institutions, and infrastructure within that community. Everything you love about what we've done so far, we want to keep doing, or do better. But we also see sorely needed things that need doing that fall into our central mission focuses--educational books and curricula that need writing, inspirational resources that need producing, and wonderful people in other cities who need support in their efforts to grow new arms to this movement where they are.
In the short term, rather than do these new things at the expense of existing things, we seek to make strategic additions to our process so that when we do things well, more people (including non-locals) can profit from them; and to begin to assemble the financial and staff resources to improve and expand further.
Long-Term Plan: Aggressive Growth
The board is putting the finishing touches on a multi-year plan with the goal of building a $2.5 million organization with a dozen or more full-time staff. The vision is a thriving hub of a local "three-dimensional" community of artists, patrons, and clergy working together toward a renaissance of the Christian imagination--including regular conferences and retreats for large and small groups from around the country--and a national network and resources to help other cities develop sister organizations, help other churches deepen their approach, and help individuals grow and learn.
- Three main target audiences: artists, pastors, and laymen/the rest of the church. For the first, we want to see artists (especially Guild members) provided with the spiritual, communal, technical, and professional resources they need to produce the highest-quality art they can; and to thrive in church environments marked by love, intentionality, and healthy challenge. For the second, we want to see pastors and churches equipped to do ministry both to and through artists, and to play a key role in providing their congregations with the stories, songs, architecture, images, and more that are needed to shape believers in an age of secular liturgies. For the third, we want Christians to love beauty as an integral part of their faith, to know and support artists on a personal level, and to embrace their own identity as a part of the image of a creator God.
- Three phases of growth: Phase 1 (2018-19) will be focused on building a strong major gifts base (adding $60,000 to the budget through sponsorships and major gifts) and moving key staff to paid part-time status (to focus on growth areas we can't tackle without more of their time), while continuing to deepen and improve written, video, relational, and event-based resources for our core community and its extensions around the country. Phase II will involve a $500k budget, two full-time staff, and key investment in communications infrastructure and new art and nonfiction resources. Phase III is the full-fledged operation, including book publishing; a large and beautiful facility (think abbey) with conference space, office space, gathering space, and studios; and a full array of resources for our members and friends both local and national.
For 2018, we aim to raise an additional $60,000 through sponsorships, grants, and major gifts, which will allow key staff members to move to part-time or half-time status and use that extra time to focus on Anselm community development, marketing, and fundraising. On the program side, we will focus on refining our existing offerings, amplifying them nationally through the internet (mainly for patrons), and expanding our written and video resources for the education and inspiration of our friends across the country.
Short-Term Needs to Pray for
Many of these roles do not require a specific technical skill or experience, and for others we can provide training, so if you want to help, let us know and we can figure it out with you!
- Investors: Wealthy Christians with a vision for the Christian imagination (or in search of one) who can come alongside us with strategic, large gifts. In the long run, we plan for 70% or more of our budget to be funded through patron memberships, but to get there, we need people with deeper pockets who can commit to supporting us for three years.
- Volunteer advancement team (already under construction but more help is needed!) to collaboratively build strong relationships with churches, businesses, venues, foundations, major donors, etc.; attract sponsors and write grants; and develop and operate the patron program. This is our single biggest need for 2018! But in order for us to be able to grow, we also need to reallocate existing staff time, which means we need people to take the baton in several areas senior staff is currently running (see below)....
- Volunteer program staff additions: director of events to oversee conceptualization and execution of events calendar; volunteer coordinator to make sure we have the right teams of people for each event.
- Volunteer marketing staff additions: digital content editor to conceptualize, solicit, and execute original digital content and coordinate digital marketing (the last could also be done by a different person); energetic person or people to handle our forthcoming video livestreams.
- Spiritual formation: stronger collaborations with churches and, partially through that, improved spiritual formation resources for our Guild members.
- God's guidance: Christians aren't used to giving to the arts, and art philanthropists aren't used to giving to religious causes. On top of that, artists, laymen, and pastors aren't used to talking. We are embarking on an effort to create new philanthropic categories, and unite disparate groups. We can only do that if we are listening and God is guiding!
A note on our patron program: it isn’t simply a monthly giver program. It is a 21st century arts patronage program that is designed to:
- Increase in its value to the giver both over time and with increased levels of giving, through various built-in perks and strong relational investment at scale (powered by modern technologies)
- Connect the patron to a larger community of people who share his/her passions
- Inspire the patron with ideas, resources, etc. so that he/she becomes more and more excited about and closely aligned with our mission
- Expand organically through social network-based growth; we are intentional not only about providing direct value to our patrons, but also about growing by attracting their friends to join us; we want one patron to lead to three more, and we want all four of those people to love being a part of Anselm together
Email Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org.