People are funny when you talk about money. Whether it’s in church, a ministry, or just at the water cooler. However, non-profit organizations survive from charitable donations, so these conversations are very necessary. The question isn’t whether these organizations need money, it is how to best serve your prospective donors in a way that honors Jesus and encourages their faith.
Fundraising doesn’t have to be a drag, nor does it have to be a relationship ender. I know people who screen their calls from friends because they know when they will be hitting them up for money. You don’t want to be “that guy/gal”.
There is a way to fundraise effectively that doesn’t have to strain relationships and can really be an encouragement for all involved.
Here are some basic tips to help you raise money:
- Have a Compelling Story: People like a good story and they want to be involved in them. You need to have a vision that draws people into it. When I was planting C3Magnolia I was very diligent in telling the story of how I came to the place that I wanted to plant a church, interesting information about the area, and my vision for what we would accomplish.
- Be Honest: Look, raising money for a salary is not as sexy as raising money for a water well, but it is necessary. Don’t make stuff up that you’re going to do with the money just so people will want to give. If you have a compelling story (See #1), then people will be willing to contribute to the need.
- Know Your Needs: It’s my favorite when I’m talking to church planters or reps from other ministries who are trying to raise money and they don’t know what the money will be used for. You would think that before people ask for money they would know what they needed. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. It is wise to have at least an idea of what you are going to need so that you can communicate it to the potential ministry partner.
- Dream Big, Plan Small: You don’t want to limit God, but you also don’t want to look like a nut-job either. I’m always one to encourage a big vision, but I have learned along the way to plan to get going with little. This actually covers all of your bases when dealing with donors. Those who enjoy giving to ministries will be impressed by your big vision, and also feel more secure when you have a plan to get things going regardless of the fundraising result. I’ve heard of people who wait to do their ministry until they have a large (luxury) item. This will make you look like your calling is contingent on money, and not on your passion to do the work.
- Communicate Frequently: Don’t be a Spam Monster, but communicate often giving updates about the work you are doing. Those who are interested in the work will be glad to hear updates. I use MailChimp, which is an e-mail newsletter service that is FREE for up to 2,000 contacts. It’s legit. Tell people stories, ask for prayer, give updates about your family, etc. The point is to let your supporters know what you are up to, and remind them that you’re out there doing the work. Ever hear the saying, “Out of sight, out of mind”? It’s true. No one is bleeding over the work more than you are, and if you don’t keep folks updated, there will be plenty of other things getting their attention.
- Manage the Money Well: When you are raising funds you are building upon a relationship or starting a new one. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of using the raised funds very well. I’ve been blessed over the years by relationships with friends who have given faithfully to my ministry and church. If I squandered the money, I would not have the support that I am blessed with today.
- Be Generous: If you are going to be asking people for money, it’s wise to be generous with yours. Even if you don’t have much, you don’t want to be a hypocrite. This is not an argument for karma or ju-ju, it is reflective of ones heart. People who are always asking for money, but never generous with their own are really battling with entitlement issues and maybe even greed. If you ask for much, make sure you give much. An example of this in my ministry is when I receive a generous donation, I then try to bless another organization/ministry in turn. Often times that is me going to speak at an event and not taking any honorariums from the host, or helping out another ministry. It’s a Golden Rule thing (see Matthew 7:12).
There is plenty more to say about fundraising, but it is good to get these essentials established before we talk more about the ‘How-To’ of fundraising. That will be coming in a future post.
What are some essentials that I’ve left out? Leave a comment below.
You may also want to read:
- The 3 No-No’s of Fundraising
- Fundraising: Knowing When & How to Ask
- How George Mueller Jacked Up My Fundraising Efforts