Three Comfortable Phrases Reveal Faulty Thinking About Fundraising

By on January 1, 2012   /   Leave a comment

Over the years, I’ve heard these three mantras about fundraising. They sound logical, but faulty thinking lies below the surface.

1. “We’re comfortable at 80% aren’t we honey?”
This statement is always made by husbands—never by wives!
I met a missionary recently who said, “We simply minister to people and they eventually start giving. We don’t ask.”
I replied, “So it is working well.”
“Yes it is, God is taking care of us,” he said proudly.
“You must be up to budget then.”
“No, we are at 80%,” he said.
I looked at him for a few seconds. His eyes met mine. Then I slowly said, “So it is not working.”

In most cultures you can pay your bills at 80% funding—you can “get-by!” But you can’t—
• Save for an emergency
• Seize ministry expansion opportunities
• Handle a catastrophe
• Take a family vacation—unless you camp in the backyard!

Furthermore, what does a “get-by” mentality say to others?

2. “I’m more comfortable asking for others than myself!”
Hearing this, missionaries smile wistfully and nod in agreement, “Yes, if only I didn’t have to raise money for myself!” But if the money is for the Kingdom, what’s the difference? I confess that I used to feel more comfortable raising support for others because speaking on behalf of another gave me a “rush of humility.” Friends, we are funding the advance of the Kingdom! I am not merely asking that my needs be met. Kingdom fundraising takes me out of the equation.

Secondly, maybe we suffer from “vision envy,” inwardly thinking that the person for whom we are raising support has a more important ministry. If you truly believe God has called you to your ministry, then don’t hide behind the false humility of “doing it for others.” Remember, when you raise $$ for your ministry, you are raising for others—those who will grow in Christ because of your work! Get “self” out of fundraising!

3. “I’m more comfortable sending letters than asking in person.”
The faulty thinking? “If they know I’m in ministry, they will give!” If potential donors receive my newsletter or hear me speak at a meeting, they’ll start giving. News flash! Advertising does not raise support.

Of course, providing information is important. Even 120 years ago, George Mueller of England (“Tell only God, not men!”) informed his partners. But something more is needed. People must be given meaningful opportunities to make stewardship decisions. Potential donors merely knowing that you are in ministry is not an effective appeal. Philippians 4:10 speaks to this: “You were concerned before but you lacked opportunity.”

Yes, news about your ministry raises your readers’ concern, but you must give them opportunities to express their interest. That’s why face-to-face invitations are so important.


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