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  • Writer's pictureDavid Fuerst, Associate Vice President of External Relations and Engagement at Corus International

The power of brand in fundraising

In 2019, Lutheran World Relief and IMA World Health joined forces and a year later created Corus International as our parent organization.

This gave an opportunity to relaunch Lutheran World Relief as a fundraising brand – and we are still in the midst of doing that right now.

We brought our organization together with Philanthropy & Fundraising North America in December 2019 to work on this.

What is the problem, solution and ambition for Lutheran World Relief?

I will tell you that at one point we identified over 90 problems that we were trying to solve.

Reach everyone.

We thought this was good. But then, when we got to this point, we thought that maybe our problem didn’t quite get to the essence of who our Lutheran donors are.

Lutheran donors live their philanthropy through the lens of their faith.

It is a part of who they are. They are proud to do the work, to contribute, to make quilts, to do all the things they do to help solve the problem through the lens of their faith.

So, we came back at it early in 2020 and rearticulated the problem in another way…

That really nailed it for us and we were, and still are, very excited about where we landed with that problem statement.

In February 2020 we had a big plan.

We were going to do a launch and a year-end campaign and we were going to dive in and really dig in for the next six months and make that year-end campaign just perfect. So, we would really strike the right cord.

Then we got the same curve-ball as everyone else.

How can you live through coronavirus when you are living in poverty?

That forced us to come back and really take a hard look at the problem, the solution and the ambition and what our organization was being called to at this time.

We’re told to practice social distancing to keep our loved ones safe.

We’re told to self-isolate to protect the vulnerable.

We’re told to wash our hands to stop the spread.

We’re told to stay at home.

When we went through this part of our creative, one of the things that we knew, deep in our core as a team, was that we couldn’t wait.

We couldn’t wait.

Because we knew Paulina.

Paulina, who has lived through two wars and is living in a Ugandan refugee camp and has just gotten to the point where she can feed her family. Is now facing another big threat.

And it is because she has the very least. Because she is among the most forsaken.

That we had to go fast.

And so, our team got together and began very quick work to move everything forward. And we did it for another reason.

We did it because all of those Lutheran donors who were supporting our organization.

Who are isolating.

Who are staying at home.

Who are being told to stay away… are trying to figure out how to love their neighbor.

In this, problem, solution, ambition, just became so much more important for them too.

And so, we have moved everything forward. And our donors have responded. And yes, our revenue has grown. And yes, we are helping people like Paulina. But our work has just started.

And our donors are saying they are in.

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