Book Review of People Raising

People Raising - A Practical Guide to Raising Funds (new and expanded edition for 2012)A review of People Raising, by Marv Newell, Sr. Vice President, Missio Nexus.


It was nineteen years ago that Bill Dillon released his first edition of People Raising. When he did, it was one of the first definitive books written specifically for missionaries and ministries on the “how-to” of successful fund raising. Now this revised and expanded edition takes the reader even deeper into the ministry of support raising. Dillon incorporates the very latest technological advantages – Facebook, Twitter, texting, Skype, etc. – to help the reader wield these tools to their advantage.

Whether one is raising funds for individual personal support or for a one-time project, this book is full of practical information on how to do just that. As the title states, this is a very practical guide. In places it is so mechanical (in a good sense) in step-by-step suggestions that readers will feel that all the tools and tactics they need to raise funds are at their disposal. At the core of the book are Dillon’s twelve steps to follow in developing a fundraising strategy. Scripture is scattered throughout, assuring a solid Biblical basis for the practical matters involved in raising funds.


Chapter 4: “Confronting the Fear Factor”

It is difficult to choose one chapter as the standout, but based on what so many express as their major concern in fund raising, Chapter 4: “Confronting the Fear Factor,” would be of great interest and help to many. Dillon quotes extensively from Donna Wilson of InterVarsity, who has taken a healthy approach to this major concern. He (and she) focuses on the areas of where so many fund-raisers struggle: fear as seen in lack of confidence; relational fear; fear of failure; feelings of shame, unworthiness, and guilt; self-doubt; discouragement and others. A Scriptural truth stands out, “God created humans to experience the joy of giving and calls us not to take rejection personally” (2 Cor. 8:1-5). (p. 41)


“However, when you serve in a missionary capacity, the people who invest financially in you are inclined to pray for you. Prayer follows financial investment.” (p. 17)

“Let me offer a word of caution. There are those who will readily walk away from fundraising merely because of fear or inconvenience. When you get down to it, they have arrived at their position not from a careful study of Scripture but out of convenience rather than conviction.” (p. 32)

“There is not a right or wrong model, and there is no single model. But I advise you not to build your philosophy out of convenience but to be willing to move out of your comfort zone. What does that add up to? The fact that we are workers together, sharing our various resources – including money – to achieve goals for God.” (p. 35)

“We all have many stories on how fear can paralyze. We dare not let fear distract us from accomplishing God’s purpose for our lives. Move forward with full confidence that the Lord has called you and will meet your every need for His purposes.” (p. 43)

“What you and I are promoting is a lifestyle. People Raising is a journey on your part, but never forget that your donors are on a similar journey. As both of you play your roles, God’s work will be advanced and He will be glorified.” (p. 49)

“People give to people.
People give to people they know.
People give to people they know and trust.
People give to people they know, trust, and care for.” (p. 57)

“I believe in high tech (using all communication forms available) and high touch (ongoing personal interaction) when it comes to raising funds. Visiting with prospective donors is cost-effective and time-effective and can result in a highly committed team of supporters.” (p. 61)

“High-priority prospects are people who have the financial capability to generously support you or your organization. But the donor’s financial cushion is not the only criterion for this category. Donors may be ranked as high-priority based on their eagerness to support you. These donors may have given you signals that they want to be part of your support team.” (p. 82)

“The Pareto principle states that 80 percent of the results flows out of 20 percent of the activity (some promote a 90/10 percent structure). So don’t be surprised if 80 percent of your support goal comes from 20 percent of your donors.” (p. 88)

“Your goal is to communicate, and you will need to do it in whatever medium is most comfortable for your donor and not necessarily what is most convenient for you.” (p. 91)

“People don’t give to meet a need; they give to support a vision! Convey your burden with conviction. Convey your burden with emotion. Convey your burden with sincerity. Convey your burden with confidence.” (p. 120)

“Most organizations will take a percentage for administrative costs that help cover some of the mission’s overhead – costs to maintain the mission headquarters, secretaries, receptionists, training, and so on. Some donors do not understand or want to give money toward administrative costs. The way you respond is critical. Enthusiastically support your organization and its policy and be prepared to defend that policy. Without your organizations expertise, office assistance, and resources, you would be on your own. Although administrative costs don’t cover your actual expenses, the organization’s costs help keep you in your ministry.” (p. 122)

“No one wants to be the sole supporter of your vision. Donors need to be reassured there is a team of financial supporters to take you across the finish line.” (p. 123)

“I want to say loud and clear that I want to see you raise the funds but also to keep the funds. If that is going to happen, you will need to regularly thank people.” (p. 141)

“In essence, any time someone does something special for you, you should recognize that generosity and say “Thank you.” 
God has given you a special role in your ministry, and many of the Lord’s servants are waiting to minister to you. But remember, givers need to be thanked and appreciated.” (p. 144)

“You might say that donors have three entitlements. 1. They have the right to know whether you received the money or gift. 2. They have the right to know whether you needed the money or gift. 3. They have the right to know whether the gift was appreciated.” (p. 147)

“It is much easier to get more money from an existing donor than to recruit a new donor. It is also more cost-effective and time-efficient. Challenging people in their giving is a crucial aspect of your fundraising plan. Resoliciting is a chance to challenge high.” (p. 175)

“Every step in our fundraising planning and execution has to be bathed in prayer. If this is the Lord’s ministry, then it’s important that we consult with Him – regarding our need for funds and to praise him for the successes we experience.” (p. 209)


“I’ll never forget visiting a friend of our family. He operated a construction business. I walked into his construction yard and headed toward his small, concrete-block office. Before I got to the door, I heard my name called out. Initially I didn’t know where the voice was coming from. Then I looked high in the sky, and there on top of a piece of construction equipment was our friend. He was an interesting, colorful character. You never knew exactly what he would say next. He yelled from the top of the construction equipment, ‘Bill, have you heard? The devil is going out of business! He’s selling all his equipment, but he’s saving one thing: the tool of discouragement.'” (p. 53)


“So work your plan as if it all depends on you, but knowing that in reality it all depends on Him. Remember that prayer activates a powerful God. It unleashes His resources to accomplish His purposes. Prayer shows how inadequate we are and brings a heart full of praise back to the Author and Finisher of our faith.” (p. 222)


“Curtis Kregness of the ministry New Life Editions underscores this issue in his article “The ‘Enemy’ of Deputation Was Me.” I entered deputation with some apprehension, not really knowing what to expect, but realizing that I was in for a long, arduous climb. I was convinced of one thing – that God was going to have to take up the slack in many places, because I felt very inadequate for a public relations-type ministry, especially when it often centered on myself… But as I climbed further up the mountain, I discovered that someone had not told me the complete story. God was using the deputation experience to minister to me. At each new bend in the trail, I realized some new lesson that God was teaching me, which went far beyond the fundraising and prayer-raising function of deputation… The comic strip character named “Pogo” once uttered this piece of wisdom: “We have met the enemy and he is us!” My deputation experience verified that often we are our own worst enemies.” (pp. 52-53)

Our Recommendation:

If you are either just starting out on support discovery, have been on faith support for a while, or are in need of raising funds for a one-time major project, you will definitely benefit from the principles and practices contained in this book. The practical suggestions presented, along with up-to-date ideas and use of technology, make this book one of the best manuals for support raising.

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