Built on relationships
These links are key in what we do.
Our lives and society are built on relationships. On the other side, broken relationships are the cause of much of our pain and lack of success in all that we endeavor to accomplish. And, clearly, broken relationships are a product of sin. Plain and simple. Sin started with a broken relationship between Adam and God, and sin continues to break relationships to this day.
We must, therefore, build on the positive side of this issue. Establishing and nurturing quality relationships will produce positive outcomes in our community work with The Salvation Army.
The relationship sequence starts with the rapport between the local corps officer and the advisory board and staff. From the day that an officer arrives, it is incumbent on the board to welcome and help introduce the individual(s) to the community. Building this relationship from day one will pay big dividends during his or her time in the command. In all likelihood, this will also develop into a warm and personal friendship. A large percentage of my closest friends are also past and present officers.
Effective fundraising comes through relationships. All of those mailings, ads and special projects will never match the major donations that come as a result of personal relationships. Joan Kroc, for instance, had a relationship with Salvation Army people in Southern California and out of those relationships came her billion dollar bequest, the largest ever received. Here in our community we work hard at various fundraising events, personalizing mailings and all the other little tricks. But the large landmark donations we have received started with a face-to-face meeting between friends or business associates. Whenever we start a serious major campaign, we identify linkage between board and donor. Then we look to the board member to make the initial contact, the “ask” and the follow up. And it has paid off richly over the years.
Public relations and media contact must be built on relationships. Sending out press releases alone won’t move the needle. Knowing the right people at the local newspaper, television and radio stations is essential. On important topics you meet with the media, face to face, to explain the specific message you need to communicate.
Government relations is always tricky. But we make certain that our board personally knows the “right people” in our local city and state government offices. In fact, we try to take a new officer through City Hall in his first week in town, making sure that personal contact is made with the mayor, council members and county supervisors. By the end of the first month the officer should have all of these officials, and more, on speed dial and in regular and personal contact whenever needed.
One of the first acts for a new officer is to join the most active service club in town. Ideally, assuming it is an officer couple, each will join a different club and begin to build relationships with the various business leaders of the community. Other significant social service agency heads will likely be met here and linkage immediately established with these other agencies.
In our community there is an association of local pastors and the officer is encouraged to not only join but to bond with other local ministers. This link can prove beneficial in many ways not covered in the political and business side of the community.
While this may seem a bit of a stretch, board members need to establish relationships with Salvation Army command at the higher levels. They need to know their divisional leaders. Where possible they also need to establish and build communication at the territorial level. These contacts and links prove invaluable when certain situations arise. I am frequently asked for advice on how to handle situations where the officer and board cannot come up with an amicable solution. My immediate response is always, “Have you talked to your Divisional Commander?”
Finally, and most important, we must always remember that we are a church, serving the poor in the name of Jesus, and keeping the relationship with him is paramount in all that we do.