By Scott Rodin, Senior Consultant & Chief Strategy Officer
A few years back I accompanied a nervous pregnancy center executive director and a kind but quiet board chair on the most important invitation visit they would have for their capital campaign. They were well prepared, did a wonderful job, and after putting the invitation before the couple across the desk and inviting them to pray, they received an immediate response. “We prayed before you came, and we have decided to make the gift you are asking for.” The gift was large enough to put the campaign goal over the top. There was joy, hugs, and a few tears. We left and went back to the center where staff and board members were waiting and praying. When they heard the news, more joy and tears and praise.
In reflecting on that event, I am in wonder at the three-fold blessing that was received that day. The center was blessed by receiving such a generous gift and completing their campaign. I was blessed by having God use me to be a conduit through which he made such a blessing flow. But the remarkable thing about raising funds in a God-honoring way for a kingdom purpose is that the most blessed people in this whole process were the couple who faithfully and prayerfully stewarded God’s resources into God’s work and for God’s glory.
That’s the work we do. We allow God to work through us to bring a blessing into the lives of our financial partners. Here are five things to remember that will ensure God can continue to use you for this high and holy work.
1. Have the Right Attitude
The first step in ensuring that our giving partners are blessed in our fundraising work with them is changing our attitude. For many of us that will mean rethinking our definition of success for our fundraising program. It will require us to define success not only in metrics of money raised, but to the extent to which our work blessed, challenged, and encouraged our giving partners. Only when this becomes a high priority and is included as an invaluable component of a successful development program will the blessing of our giving partners become central to our work. This shift in attitude might be quite radical for many of us. It means setting aside our view of our donors as people who have the resources to bless us and replacing it with a deep sense of calling that we have the opportunity to bless them. It moves us away from focusing on ourselves as “those in need” and puts the focus on our giving partners as “those whom we can bless by giving them the opportunity to be faithful stewards through giving to our work.” In a real sense, it means accepting the realization that in Kingdom terms, our partners need us as much as we need them. This places a greater responsibility on us to have the right attitude, which is the mindset of ministers as we engage in this work.
2. Know Their Passion
If we are to bless our giving partners through our fundraising work, we must understand the passion that God has placed on their heart that aligns with our work. Bringing blessing to our partners means connecting them with giving opportunities that bring them the greatest joy. When we attempt to convince or persuade donors to give to things outside of their interest and passion, the focus shifts from our care for them to our own needs, and we run the risk of becoming manipulative in the process. One of the greatest joys of our work is watching God’s people give joyfully to God’s work for God’s glory. That happens when we align their passions with our work and allow God to lead them toward greater levels of generosity. In this way, we bring great blessing into the lives of our partners.
3. Listen to Them and Encourage Them in Their Stewardship Journey
Having the right attitude and desiring to know the passion of our giving partners requires us to be great listeners and encouragers. Too often fundraising training involves techniques around making the right pitch, having the most compelling story, knowing when to do the ‘ask’ and ‘mastering the close’. These may be great for used car salesmen, but they have no place in the Christian ministry of fundraising. If we are to bring blessing into the lives of our partners, our greatest tools are great questions, open ears, and a ministering spirit. With these tools, we can discern where our partners are in their stewardship journeys and encourage them on that journey. As we do, we will build relationships of trust as fellow travelers that God will use to open up multiple opportunities for us to engage our giving partners in meaningful ministry through our organization and bless him abundantly in the process.
4. Connect Them with the Kingdom Impact Their Stewardship is Having
Good fundraising always includes reporting back to our giving partners on the impact they’re giving is having in our work. This is even more important if we are to bring blessing into the lives of our partners. We must be careful here not to use these reports as ways to prop up the egos and pride of our giving partners, but instead to continually give God the glory for what he is done through their faithful stewardship. By tying together their obedience in giving with our effective use of their gifts and the stewarding of our ministry for Kingdom outcomes, we will bring great blessing into their lives without undermining our basic theological premise that everything belongs to God.
5. Thank Them Appropriately and be Sure God Gets the Glory
Following up from #4, we must thank our partners appropriately. On the one hand this means thanking them in ways that encourages them to even greater levels of stewardship and recognizes their obedient response to prayerfully seeking God’s leading for how they should steward the resources he’s placed in their care. It’s this kind of language that will continue to reinforce our fundamental convictions of God’s ownership and his call for us to faithfully steward what he has entrusted to us. On the other hand, it gives us the opportunity to give God the glory in all things. We can glorify God for using our giving partners as conduits for his blessing. We can thank him for the faithful execution of the projects that were funded. And we can thank him for the missional outcomes and Kingdom impact that can only happen through his power and provision. In this way, we bless our giving partners and give glory to God in a way that has biblical integrity and keeps Christ at the center of all we do.
At The FOCUS Group we encourage you to undertake all of your fundraising programs and practices with this passionate desire to bring blessing into the lives of your giving partners as they give joyfully and abundantly as faithful stewards to your work, to the building of the Kingdom and the glory of God.