Have you heard it said that “money follows vision”? Nonprofit leaders are usually very good at casting vision. Why? Because they are some of the most excited and passionate people you will ever meet when it comes to their cause. They invest their time, treasures, talents and make many sacrifices to follow their calling. Can you relate? If I were to ask you as a nonprofit leader about the vision of your organization, I am certain you’d have plenty to talk about. You would easily share stats, stories and dreams for the future. Sharing this type of information is vital to educate and inspire others….so don’t stop! HOWEVER (when it comes to fundraising), vision casting prepares the heart and mind of the listener, but money actually follows “the asking”!
While nonprofit leaders are very good at “telling” they become anxious in “asking”, which leads to many lost opportunities.
I completely get it!
As a faith-based fundraising coach (and fundraiser myself ), there is this inner wrestling with living by faith vs. asking by faith.
“Should I ask for money, or live by faith and trust that God will provide for my financial needs?”
Personally, I think the answer is YES and YES.
Yes, you should ask for money.
Yes, you should live by faith and trust that God will provide for your financial needs.
Biblical Fundraising In Exodus 25, God told Moses to “raise a contribution” for the Tabernacle. Moses carefully received God’s detailed instructions for the Tabernacle, then, in Exodus 35, he invited the people to give. And give they did! Everyone “whose heart stirred him” (verse 21) brought contributions, and the project was completed.
The late author and Dutch Catholic priest Henri Nouwen originally considered fundraising “a necessary but unpleasant activity to support spiritual things.”
But he came to see it differently later in life. In his book, A Spirituality of Fundraising he said:
“Fundraising is as spiritual as giving a sermon, entering a time of prayer, visiting the sick, or feeding the hungry. Fundraising is precisely the opposite of begging. When we seek to raise funds we are not saying, ‘please, could you help us out because it’s been rather hard’, instead, we are proclaiming what we believe in such a way that we offer other people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission. We must not let ourselves be tricked into thinking that fundraising is only a secular activity.”
We don’t do fundraising so we can do ministry… biblical fundraising is a ministry within itself.
2nd Corinthians 9:7 “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Remember this...
As faith-based fundraisers we are inviting people into the joy of generosity.
Asking for money is a tangible way to advance the Kingdom of God.
When it comes to asking, consider these four tips:
1. Value relationships more than money. Authentically connecting with your donors shows you care more about them than their dollars. When you start making fundraising just about dollars, you’ve lost sight of “fundraising as a ministry.” Set aside time each week to work on donor care. Your supporters shouldn’t hear from you only when asking.
2. Be upfront when attempting to schedule an appointment. When attempting to schedule a face-to-face visit or phone call in which you plan to make a direct ask, be upfront about your intention.
Email Example: Mrs. Jones, you have been so kind to support our ministry as a regular monthly partner for the past several years. I would love the chance to schedule a call with you to discuss an exciting opportunity we have for you to increase the number of youth you are directly impacting with your generous support. Would you consider a brief call or meeting with me next week?
3. Listen! Listening is the lost art of fundraising. We are so quick to tell all the amazing work our organization is doing and present our agenda; but if we are not listening, we are not inviting the donor to be part of the story! Listening is how a relationship is formed. Ask questions to open up a two-way conversation and be “in the moment” with the donor (not in your head space thinking about how quickly you can convince them or pitch them on your idea). This is not a sales call!
Example Questions To Ask A Donor:
Why did you first give to our organization?
Why does this cause matter to you?
What interests you most about organization?
Are there particular programs or areas that interest you?
What are the most critical results you expect our organization to produce?
How do you prefer us to communicate with you?
What do you think about ______? (You honor your donor by asking for their input.)
4. Ask with clarity and intent. Make it easy for those you are asking to quickly understand your needs and their return on investment (life impact). Visuals are a great tool to use when asking (ex. gift chart, pledge card, case for support), however, don’t muddy the waters with too many choices. Be intentional and strategic when asking.
Would you consider a gift of $1,000 to provide ultrasounds to 25 pregnant teens and young women?
We have the opportunity to provide clean water in 10 villages with your gift of $10,000.
With your investment of $25,000 we can add a part-time youth worker allowing us to serve 75 additional at-risk teens next year at our drop-in center.
Your gift of $100 per month allows us to provide human trafficking prevention curriculum in 10 schools.
Telling and asking in fundraising is a waltz, not a solo performance.
Yes, both are biblical.
Yes, both are necessary.
Yes, we can help.
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