Giving thanks, Thanksgiving, and thanks for the giving

Next week is Thanksgiving, but every week I give thanks for the opportunity I have at The Lutheran Schools Partnership. It's the opportunity to help our area Lutheran schools improve and enhance their advancement efforts beyond the typical "bake-sale" approach to fundraising. Throughout my 22-plus years in the nonprofit sector, it has been a privilege to help organizations large and small to define leadership goals, identify resources, assign ownership to the process, and develop the necessary steps to success. It is a privilege to talk about direct support for our schools. I also get to explain the benefits of Indiana's best tax credit program ever: the Indiana Scholarship Tax Credit program, or "SGO Tax Credit," as it's more commonly known. With donations to The Lutheran Scholarship Granting Organization of Indiana, donors can help students at our area Lutheran schools and receive a tax credit on their Indiana state taxes. The SGO tax credit can result in a reduction or elimination of taxes owed, and the potential for a complete or partial refund of taxes already paid. With the overwhelming amount of SGO donations received last fiscal year, The Lutheran Schools Partnership wanted a way to meaningfully thank donors. Borrowing from an event that Central Lutheran School in New Haven held last year (Thanks, Kevin and Cheryl!), we created our first donor Thanksgiving event, "SGOs: Sharing God's Opportunities." Designed as a thank-you celebration for SGO donors to the 18 Lutheran schools in northeast Indiana during the 2012-2013 school year, the event featured an optional reception, complimentary refreshments, and dinner. We didn't ask for money, as the event was intended to celebrate those who had already given their support, and to introduce the program to those new to SGOs. The highlight of this fun evening was a presentation by Tim Goeglein on faith, family, and Christian education. As one principal noted, "There is no way we could have done this sort of event on our own." A few donors were even inspired to make their year-end SGO gifts that night, and even more sent gifts during the following week. We thank you for a great start to the giving season. Just as attendees and principals were encouraged to invite guests who were new to the SGO concept, I invite you to learn more about the positive aspects of an SGO donation for Lutheran education and for your own tax savings. Visit our website at www.LutheranSGO.org, email us at info@LutheranSGO.org, or call us at (260) 203-4509. Due to the success of the event, we're already planning the second SGO Thanksgiving event for donors during the 2013-2014 fiscal year. We hope to count you among the attendees.