When I first began the ministry of Inner City Impact in Chicago, I woke up one day to realize that if my ministry was to successfully function with proper funding, I would have to be the raise these funds. What a rude awakening and a scary thought! But through 40+ years of fundraising I have learned some valuable lessons, created a workable philosophy, and identified some practical principles that have enhanced my ministry as a fundraiser, which I have learned is really more about the people than the money. But let me share some of the misconceptions, and the right perspectives I learned, that plagued my initial well-intended efforts.
5. Think long-range, not short-range. There were some unfortunate cases where I tried to rush the fundraising process and lost the relationship. If only I would have been patient and thought about long-range partnership and not short-range return. In my 40+ years of fundraising, I’ve come to call it “People Raising” instead, because supporting a ministry is all about relationships. People Raising is all about relationships. People give to people who they know, trust, and care for. When meeting a person for the first time, you are just at the beginning of the process. Now the challenge is to build a relationship and gain their trust. And that takes time.
6. Your donors have a greater need to give than you have to receive. I was so focused on my need to receive money that I failed to realize that it was more important that they be given the great opportunity to invest in the Lord’s work. To give is a privilege, but I was asking for a favor. (Acts 20:35) says that “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Your prospects and donors need to be your focus. Give as many people as possible the opportunity to engage in your vision, in your ministry. Once connected to your organization financially, they will have great joy in participating.
7. The Lord will bring in the funds. I thought it all depended upon me. If I produced the time and effort the funds would roll in. If I did not produce the effort the funds simply would not come in. I failed to realize the Lord was working behind the scenes. Even when my efforts seemed meager, He was at work. The Lord is in the business of translating His vision, and His agenda, in the hearts of His people. Our job is to move forward in faith expecting God’s provision. Our role is to share that vision and ask people to partner with us financially.
8. Focus on effectiveness, not mere efficiency. Those early days I cranked out letters and had numerous church meetings. It certainly got the message out but only raised few funds. I soon discovered I needed to build relationships with people and sit down and ask for their gift. We live in an age where we could get information out very rapidly to so many people. At first glance that’s a winner, but there’s also a downside. Facebooking all your friends certainly speaks efficiency but when it comes to raising funds it is a very poor tool to use. There’s no substitute for sitting down with people one on one, face to face. It pays huge dividends.