Raising money is tough. Most people avoid it all costs. But for those who lead growing businesses, ministries, and churches, it’s necessary. In fact, fund-raising becomes one of the main responsibilities of the guys and gals at the top.
But many who find themselves in fundraising positions didn’t plan on it and haven’t prepared for it. So as we continue thinking about the question: “How do I find a Gospel Patron?” I hope to help you avoid five common mistakes and build strong and lasting partnerships that advance the gospel.
“Avoid five common mistakes and build strong and lasting partnerships”
Here are the mistakes I see fund-raisers make:
1. It’s not a transaction, it’s a relationship. The saying “People do business with people” is true about giving also. People give to people.
But somehow when it comes to fundraising our humanity can disappear. We send out generic support letters and hide behind power point presentations. Our own “need” for money leads us to stop being ourselves and stop thinking about the people right in front of us. And it backfires.
The way to fight this tendency is to offload the financial pressure you feel to God. You do that by speaking, praying, and believing verses like these two:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
“He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 9:10)
Trust God’s word and then focus on the people.
2. It’s not an inconvenience, it’s an opportunity. I don’t think the three women who funded Jesus’ ministry—Mary, Joanna, and Susanna—ever thought to themselves, “Oh, man, why do we have to be generous to keep this ministry going. Seeing all these people healed and saved and changed is such an inconvenience.” (see Luke 8:1-3) No, generosity was an invitation to join the action and share the joy.
When we invite others to support our kingdom efforts, we’re asking them to be partners in the work of the gospel. They might say “No” and that’s okay, but it is still a tremendous opportunity.
Gospel Patrons can reach people for Jesus in countries they’ve never been to and among people they’ve never met. Through generous giving Gospel Patrons can have a global and eternal impact on the souls of people all around the world. And what could be a better use of our earthly treasure than that?
3. It’s not about receiving, it’s about partnership. Fund-raisers can be expected to raise the money for entire building projects, new investments, and the annual expenses of a ministry. It can be a stressful role. But amidst the pressure one way to recapture the joy is to take your eyes off receiving and instead focus on giving.
Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
Generosity leads to joy, and this applies especially for those who do fundraising. When we look to the Bible we see that not only did the church in Philippi give Paul financial support and encouragement for his missionary journeys, but also Paul gave them Bible teaching, discipleship, and constant prayer. Paul describes it as a partnership of “giving and receiving.” (Philippians 4:15) It’s wasn’t a charity, it was a partnership. Both gave to each other and both received from one another.
Like Paul, we should aim at partnerships of “giving and receiving.” We should think and pray about how to be generous to those who give so much to us and our ministry. How can we encourage them? How can we pray for them? How can we spend time with them? What books or sermons or resources or updates would bless them? How can we lead the way in generosity? Because when we lead the way in generosity, we’ll lead the way in joy.
4. It’s not about your presentation, it’s about your excitement. In fund-raising, as in so many situations in life, we under-estimate the importance of conveying our own excitement.
In a lecture he gave in 2009, DA Carson said,
“If I have learned anything in 35 or 40 years of teaching, it is that students don’t learn everything I teach them. What they learn is what I am excited about.”
As much as we are eager to talk through our presentation, our strategy, and our vision, Carson’s counsel is to stay most excited about the best things and emphasize those. He says, “Make sure that in your own practice and excitement, what you talk about, what you think about, what you pray over, what you exude confidence over, joy over, what you are enthusiastic about is Jesus, the gospel, the cross.”
The joy of the Lord is our strength and fundraising is a chance to share it.
5. It’s not about ROI, it’s about eternity. Many philanthropists and business people today talk about ROI, but when it comes to God’s kingdom we need to watch out for a worldly way of thinking that says, “We can cause the growth.” The Bible says,
“The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how.” (Mark 4:26-27)
We can’t control God and when or how He grows His kingdom. Our job is to scatter seed faithfully, to plant, to water, and to go bed trusting God will cause the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:6-7)
Jesus wants us to be wise stewards and we should remember that wise stewardship is always stewardship done in light of eternity. Stewardship that is for this life only is not wise, it’s short-sighted. The reality of eternity is tremendously motivating. Let’s talk about it, let’s live for it, because soon and very soon we are going to see the King.
There’s a lot more that could be said, but at the core fundraising is a relationship and an opportunity that is about building partnerships, sharing your excitement, and living for eternity.