Whether you’re fundraising for a personal missions trip, planting a new church, or any number of ministry endeavors, money is a resource needed to drive God-given dreams forward. In my own experience I have not seen God come through in more dynamic ways than financially. Many times I have found myself in positions where there was no way a vision was going to work, and yet God has always come through in huge ways.
When it comes to fundraising, we must pray like it depends on God, and work like it depends on us. Pray hard. Work hard.
Here are a few practical tips I’ve learned about fundraising:
Prioritize relationships over resources
When we have God-sized dreams and we’re ready to do the leg work to raise the funds necessary to move the ball down the proverbial field we must start by aligning our priorities with God’s. No God-sized dream is from God if it doesn’t involve loving people, including the people we invite to partner with us on mission. Money is important, but people are critical. When we focus on building relationships with real people, the finances will come.
When we make it our aim to cultivate relationships with the people behind the giving, we tie their heartstrings even tighter to the mission. We allow people to be changed and impacted by the work being done simply by letting them know that they matter, not just their wallets; they are a part of the journey, not just pawns for our own personal achievement.
Tackle the fear of fundraising
Raising money for Kingdom initiatives is as biblical as Peter and Paul, but asking for money still makes most of us feel uneasy. Many schools have started giving parents a “buyout” option at the beginning of the school year so that parents can give $30 to the school and be excluded from having to peddle cookies, pizza kits, and over-priced wrapping paper to neighbors and co-workers.
We don’t like to feel like we have unmet needs. But the truth is that we aren’t meant to go alone.When we ask people to be generous towards God-given dreams and goals, we aren’t asking for favors; we’re inviting them to get in the game. It feels good to be asked to get off the bench, doesn’t it? We’re giving them an opportunity to get into the Jesus mission with us. We can be confident to ask people to contribute financially because they aren’t helping us, they’re joining us.
Have a compelling vision
One of the most foundational pieces of fundraising is vision; when we ask people to contribute, we need to know exactly what we are asking them to be a part of. Here are a few questions to answer in order to develop a strong vision:
- What is the problem you are trying to solve? In church planting, we usually share about the number of unreached people in a certain region or lack of churches.
- Why are you personally passionate about solving the problem and what is your plan?
- What is your budget? Know exactly how much money you need, and when you need it by. You may consider having several levels of budgets: a bare minimum goal (“If we don’t raise X amount, this will not happen), a healthy goal, and a God-sized goal (the amount that would allow you to take the vision to the next level).
- What is an ask everyone can say YES to? Ask for people to say yes to at least one of the following:
- Praying for your mission
- Funding your mission
- Volunteering with your mission
Buy in and gain some early wins
When we are on a mission, we also need to be personally bought in. We need to be the first people to give to the goal. When we were fundraising to plant 2|42 Community Church, where I serve as Lead Pastor, we asked all of our staff to be personally responsible for 30% of their salary. Believe in your vision enough to be personally invested. You cannot lead others to give unless you have first paved the way.
Once we get some skin in the game personally, we can start asking people who are the most likely to give in order to have some early wins. Getting rid of the zero early on builds your confidence to invite others to give, but it also demonstrates that you have a goal being backed by others. People are generally more inclined to contribute when they know that others have already given.
Segment your contacts
Non-profit fundraising experts have a fancy phrase they use called “donor segmentation.” This simply means making a list of every relationship we want to ask to give financially, and divide them into groups, or “segments,” based on common factors. Some people in our respective spheres of influence are high-capacity givers, churches, or business leaders looking to give to worthy missions. Others are able to give a few dollars here and there. Still more would be on a fundraising team to ask even more people to contribute, which multiplies influence and opportunity.
People are not “one size fits all.” We need to tailor our asks to fit who we are asking. Segmentation enables us to communicate with people in ways that are meaningful to them as individuals, while also building rapport, credibility, and trust.
Say thank you quickly. Say thank you often.
Appreciation goes a long way in developing healthy relationships. When my wife, Rachel, and I got married, we wrote thank you cards for every gift we received, whether it was the brand new pots and pans, or the cross-stitched coaster set. (Ok, so it was mostly Rachel; she has much better handwriting.)
When people who have partnered with us know that we notice and appreciate their partnership to drive the mission forward, relationships grow stronger. There are many ways to say “thank you,” be it a personal telephone call, a public shout-out on social media, from stage on the weekend, or a good, old-fashioned card in the mail. However you choose to do it, say thank you.
Fundraising doesn’t have to be awkward or a burden. As we ask people to partner with us to achieve God-sized vision, fundraising allows us to build stronger relationships through inviting them into greater stories; inviting them into God-stories.
Onward and Upward,