This article by Anita Hooley Yoder originally appeared in The Mennonite. Look for a book by Anita Hooley Yoder in summer 2017 about Mennonite Women USA.
Rhoda Keener was a reluctant fundraiser.
“I would tease her that our meetings felt more like therapy sessions,” said Rebekah Basinger, an organizational consultant. “And she’s the trained counselor!”
Basinger started working regularly with Keener in 2003, about two years after Keener became director of Mennonite Women USA (formerly Mennonite Women), the denominational women’s organization of Mennonite Church USA. Basinger shared her understanding of fundraising as a ministry, a spiritual act in itself, not something you just add on to help you do ministry.
“That really resonated with Rhoda,” Basinger said in a January 2015 interview. “She shaped her whole approach to fundraising around that idea. And I really believe that’s been the key to the success.”
The “success” Basinger refers to is the transformation of Mennonite Women USA (MW USA) from a floundering organization—like many of today’s church-related groups—to a now stable and relatively thriving one, financially and otherwise.