September 22, 2017

You don’t know Gordon until you know them: Paul Edwards

When Paul Edwards succeeds, everyone at Gordon wins

NAME: Paul Edwards

ROLE: Gordon’s chief development officer

NOTABLE FOR: Raising billions of dollars

By Madeline Linnell

“Think of me as a follower of Jesus who raises money,” says Paul Edwards, Gordon’s Chief Development Officer and Senior Vice President for Advancement.

It’s a long title, but its meaning is straightforward: to get Gordon the resources it needs, or, as Edwards puts it, “Faithfilled fundraising is the core of my role.”

But what exactly does that entail?

“This involves prospect research, grants, mailings, cultivating relationships, writing proposals to corporations and individuals, asking for gifts from diverse populations and stewarding the gifts faithfully,” says Edwards.

He also stresses the importance of working within a team in order to accomplish these tasks.

Though he has only held this position since July 2015, fundraising comes as nothing new for Edwards.

“I was trained and mentored as a Major Gifts Director at Stanford University from 1978-1988,” says Edwards.

He also has worked for the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, Promise Keepers, Prison Fellowship and Wycliffe Bible Translators.

In addition to that, Edwards has maintained a busy consulting and training practice, working with fundraising staffs at 90 organizations in the United States and internationally.

It is safe to say that Edwards is highly qualified for the job he holds at Gordon College. Indeed, at the Gordon Celebration of Faithful Leadership in September 2015, he and his team were able to raise $1.1 million toward student scholarship funds.

In all, Gordon raises somewhere around $10 million a year when major campaigns aren’t underway. Some of the funds go to specific causes stipulated by donors or to build the endowment —the fund whose interest finances a varity of operations. A substantial portion of gifts goes toward funding student scholarships.

A reporter asked Edwards if raising money for a small, Christian liberal-arts college is more or less difficult than doing so for a large organization with a global reputation.

Edwards, who has worked for the likes of Oxford University in England and Ivy League member Princeton University, said: “An explicitly Christian academic institution like Gordon has some advantages. We pray as a team. We pray with our donors. We can explicitly link the work we are doing at Gordon to the furtherance of the Kingdom.”

There also are what he described as “challenges” that come with working for a college such as Gordon, which over its 127 years has prepared many more missionaries and ministers than investment bankers or corporate chiefs.

In addition to enthusiasm and hard work, Edwards brings a well-developed theology of fundraising to his job.

“I believe that generous giving is a way of glorifying God and is one of the ways He blesses individuals both as givers and receivers,” he said. “While this is true whether they are believers or not, fundraising for Christian enterprises allows a more complete exploration of generosity.”

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