Whether you’re a pastor, a church leader, or heading a para-church organization, we as leaders all rely on the generosity of donors or members of our congregation to keep our operations going. All year long we make continual appeals to our donors for funds that will do extraordinary work for God’s Kingdom. In addition to our normal tasks, there are also times in the life cycle of our ministry that are in greater financial need than others, such as a capital building campaign, launching new important ministries, or hiring new staff members to carry out the vision and mission of our calling. We all know that God holds all the funds in His hands, but sometimes raising money seems like a daunting task that is out of our control and beyond our abilities.
Raising funds, however, doesn’t have to be an impossible venture. Fundraising is a noble ministry that brings honor and glory to God. Giving to your ministry allows people to be involved in the Great Commission in ways they never anticipated. It grows a team of supporters who uphold your work and are champions for your cause. As leaders we must embrace fundraising as our God-given duty that honors the Lord and brings us joy as we see Him work in and through our efforts.
As we seek greater clarity and blessing from raising funds, there are a few activities that will help us move forward with confidence and find the financial resources we need.
1) Form a prayer team. Before asking anyone for any money, it is essential to recruit a faithful group of people to pray for you, your ministry, and all that you’re going to do during your fundraising endeavors. These people can pray for so many things, but mainly:
– creativity in finding donors.
– favor in the minds of those considering a gift.
– clarity in communicating your vision.
– stamina for the long haul of fundraising efforts.
– receipt of full funding for your project or ministry.
Your prayer partners will also play a vital role in supporting you emotionally throughout the fundraising process. There are many no’s during the process, and you’ll definitely need people to stand alongside you and sustain you when things aren’t going as planned. When you reach your financial goals? These folks will be there to rejoice with you and marvel at all the Lord has accomplished.
2) Capture and communicate your vision and mission. A second thing imperative before you begin asking people for funding is to create a solid vision and mission and be able to communicate it clearly. People will want to know not only what you’ll be doing with their money, but also why you exist and what outcomes you anticipate in the end. Crafting a compelling vision statement for your church or organization is often the first step in raising funds. It must be concise and yet captivating, inclusive of all your goals and yet easy to recollect. If you communicate that you are not certain of your vision or unclear about your mission, those you’re asking for funding will not connect easily and will be less likely to invest. Crystal clear communication enhances your ability to create passion in the minds of your new financial partners. They will be compelled to be a part of your team when they fully understand what you’re striving to do. Spend the time needed to prepare your communication well, and it will pay big dividends as a result.
3) List everyone you know. After your prayer team is in place and you’ve solidified your vision and mission, the first step in finding funders is making a list of everyone you know. Yes, everyone. Now is not the time for qualifying them as funders. Now is the time to put down on paper every name that comes to mind. Search your address book and your Facebook page. Go through your Twitter feed and your high school yearbook. It’s very true that many of the people you list would not be interested in your cause. However, simply the exercise of making such a list will spur your thoughts on toward people who wouldn’t have naturally been on the top of your brain. It will be very surprising how many people you know! Your list will be long. Let this experience encourage you that the possibilities for funding are expansive and that God will indeed lead you to the right people who will want to give when you ask them.
4) Categorize them: Access, interest, capacity. Once you’ve got the list of everyone you know created, now is the time to begin categorizing and qualifying them for your particular fundraising project. There are three ways in which to qualify potential donors for your appeal:
– Access: Do you have access to this person? Do you know how to contact them? Is it possible for you to reach out to them and share your vision? Sometimes we hear of wealthy or famous people we think would be a great match for our campaign. However, we have no way to connect with them. Cross them off the list.
– Interest: Does the prospect have an interest in or passion for what you’ve set out to do? Perhaps you’re building a school for impoverished people and your prospect is a teacher. There’s a great chance she will be interest in helping you accomplish your vision. On the other hand someone who’s never expressed an interested in overseas missions may not be the first person you call.
– Capacity: Does this person have the financial means to give a significant gift? Is the person already involved in giving to a number of other projects? Does the person have consistent employment and a steady income? Search for people who have the financial means to help you, while avoiding those whose fiscal assets are tied up in other ways.
5) Ask. There is no other way to say it: You must ask for money. People will never know your needs and how they can help if you don’t ask them for a specific financial gift. Sure, there are those who say they never ask for money and yet have everything they need. I guarantee you that those who ask have more. People love the privilege of responding to a request for a need. They love to know that they are making a difference with their hard-earned money. They love to enter into a relationship with you that begins with a question. Many times when people are asked why they’ve not given to a cause, they reply, “Because I’ve never been asked.” Rely on God for strength, humble yourself and be brave. Ask for funds. Prepare adequately, and then ask.