Monday, March 18, 2013

The right way to do fundraising

I did fundraising as a single guy for about five years. During this time I learned the following two things:
  1. Fundraising as a single guy is hard.
  2. I had little clue about the right way to do fundraising.
Then I got married to the girl of my dreams... and we kept on fundraising. This fundraising was especially critical because a couple months before we got married I lost several donors whose total monthly giving was over $1100. See item #2 above. I wasn't exactly sweeping my wife off her feet with my fundraising skills.

So in our pre-kids days we used to do a lot of fundraising together. During this time I learned two more things:
  1. Fundraising as a married guy is hard.
  2. I still had little clue about the right way to do fundraising.
But here's the odd thing... despite the continually-mounting evidence to the contrary, I continued to act as though I knew the right way to do fundraising!

For example, my method was to share "big picture vision" with donors and potential donors. I told them all about the ministry's mission and core values, where we were heading and then how they could help, etc... you know... the right stuff to share! My wife, however, for reasons I simply could not fathom, would share the detailed day-to-day stuff: where we worked, how many people we ministered to, what their prayer needs were, etc... you know... the other stuff to share! Yeah, I suppose somebody could share that stuff, but, uh, why? (I also wasn't doing so hot at sweeping her off her feet with my stellar listening skills and vast reservoirs of empathy.)

Because of these... differences... going on support appointments together was often difficult.

Writing newsletters was worse.

What was the problem here? Was it that one of us was right and the other wasn't? Consider the words of King Solomon:
The plans of the heart belong to man,
    but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
    but the LORD weighs the spirit.
Commit your work to the LORD,
    and your plans will be established.
The heart of man plans his way,
    but the LORD establishes his steps.
(Proverbs 16:1-3,9 ESV)
Note the repeated emphasis: men's hearts are full of plans and intentions, but God is the one who sovereignly acts. His good purposes are always fulfilled even when my [faulty] purposes are not.

These verses should therefore cause us to learn two more things:
  1. From man's perspective, fundraising is always hard. From God's perspective, it's already done.
  2. I must choose to believe - to truly believe - that I have little clue how about the right way to do fundraising; only then do I recognize the need to commit my work to the LORD.
In the last few years, I've learned to lean on those truths far more than I used to. This has made fundraising on my own and with my wife far more enjoyable as well as more fruitful. I've learned that it's okay if my wife shares things differently than I do. It's okay if we differ on whether newsletters are one- or two-sided. It's okay if we have ongoing discussions about how to plan fundraising trips. None of those decisions will make or break our fundraising.

It's all okay so long as we commit our plans and our work to the LORD. He is the one who will give the donor's answer.

That's the right way to do fundraising.