I have been involved in fundraising in various capacities for over thirteen years, and I have learned a lot along the way. As I visit with new church planters, and people trying to start non-profits, I am surprised at how many people really are clueless about fundraising. I assumed that since it made sense to me, that everyone knew how to do it. My pride was blinding. People need help and I’m determined to give it.
This first post is going to provide 3 No-No’s for fundraising. These are the things that you need to avoid at all cost. Please note: I am writing this from a Christian perspective in view of those trying to raise money for ministry/church plants.
- Don’t Be Desperate: I cannot emphasize this enough. If you are raising money for a ministry, don’t come off as desperate. You may in turn get some pity donations, but you won’t cultivate long-term ministry partnerships with those who are giving. Also, if you are fundraising from a position of desperation, then you are far more likely to sell-out your vision for the sake of a contribution. In the long-run, it’s just not worth it. People like to support ‘winners’. If you are desperate, then it gives the donor the feeling that this thing might not work, and that ultimately their contribution is likely going to be wasted. There’s a chance that if you have a relationship with the donor, that they will support YOU, but you are not cultivating a donor for the organization / mission by being desperate. More importantly, if you are coming across as desperate, then you run a very serious risk of being guilty of idolatry. After all, is not God our ultimate provider? If God has called you to this work, isn’t He faithful to fund it?
- Don’t Use People. Love People.: It sickens me every time I hear someone refer to people as ATMs with legs. People are created by God, for God. They matter to Him, therefore, they should matter to us. When we degrade someone down to an individual with a money sign over their head, we are cheapening who they are and selfishly posturing ourselves to use them for what they can do. A leader of a church or organization should lovingly help people be free to give in order to enjoy God more, not to merely fulfill the mission at hand. Jesus talked about money as much as he talked about Hell. Money isn’t a new issue, it has always been an issue for people. It can serve as a blessing, or quickly become a curse (1 Timothy 6:10). By inviting people to partner with us in ministry with their finances, we need to really strive to help them to see the eternal impact their sacrifice is making. If you are looking to people either as a functional financial savior, or to use them for what they can do, you need to repent. You might be able to get money from them, but at the end of the day, you will have to give an answer to God.
- Don’t Embellish Your Successes: I wish I didn’t even have to write this, but I have heard so many ministries over the years embellish their numbers, ‘successes’, and accomplishments in order to stimulate their giving base to give. Part of this problem is that people have a bad theology of who does the saving. God saves people through Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9) according to His good will and pleasure. So, if you are an evangelistic ministry or church, don’t try to force people in to the baptismal waters in order to stimulate the affections of your donor base. Just be honest. Ask for prayer. I understand that people have been conditioned to an extend by other ministries to gauge success by numbers, but at the end of the day, true success is faithfulness to God and His calling on you and your ministry. If you are having to embellish, stretch, or manipulate the impact of your ministry to appease your donors, then you are serving money, and not God.
There are several other ‘No-No’s’ that I’ll share along the way, but these are the 3 that really stood out to me.
What are some of your ‘No-No’s’ that you would advise people about fundraising? Leave a comment below.
You may also want to read:
- The 7 Essentials of Fundraising
- Fundraising: Knowing When & How to Ask
- How George Mueller Jacked Up My Fundraising Efforts