Fundraising

David Jones

Fundraising Principles in Uncertain Times

Every year the Palau Association surveys our Next Generation Alliance (NGA) evangelists about their critical concerns in ministry. And every year the number one concern is money. In fact, money will probably always be the number one critical concern of all non-profits. And the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly heightened these financial concerns.

As evangelists, you are all about proclaiming the Good News and winning people to Jesus Christ. COVID-19 has not changed your vision, your mission, your goals, nor your calling. It has changed your delivery methods.

During this pandemic you probably have already made some short-term adjustments to your strategic plan where now you are focused on virtual meetings, virtual training, webinars, digital evangelism, and other forms of electronic media.

Now is a great time to bless your ministry supporters. Call them and ask them how they are doing. How has COVID-19 affected them? How can you pray for them? Share with them any COVID-19 resources you have created that they can use to offer hope to their friends and family members.

They will probably want to know what adjustments you have made to your ministry. Explain the innovative and creative ways you continue to proclaim the Gospel.

We will get through COVID-19 together and when we do effective fundraising principles will still apply. Here’s a few thoughts to process while stuck at home to get you ready for post-COVID-19.

Have you defined specifically in compelling language the tangible benefits of what you do? How do you define success? Do you have success stories to share? People value your outcomes and those outcomes may have increased during this pandemic.

Yes, fundraising is a sensitive and delicate matter during COVID-19, but it is still a privilege to ask people to support evangelism. Money spent on evangelism and the local church is never an expense. It is an investment.

COVID-19 hasn’t changed your passion for your mission. It has accelerated your growth in virtual ministry.

So, post-COVID-19, here are six quick thoughts on fundraising.

First, be strategic in asking the right people to partner with you. Look for people who have a heart for missions and evangelism, people who still weep for lost souls. People who embrace your mission and vision.

Don’t spend a lot of time trying to convince people who have never shown any interest in evangelism nor what you do that they should support your ministry.

Who in your database shares your passion for soul winning? Who are the people you know who want to use their influence and resources to further the Gospel?

Second, engage people in a way that touches their heart. Something very special happens when someone’s passions intersect with your mission.

This is part of cultivating a gift and it takes time and good listening skills. This is a good time to develop those listening skills. Most people don’t give a gift to support an organization’s needs, but rather to support their own needs and interests.

People also tend to give to people they like, respect, and trust. You may have a great project worthy of support, but if you don’t ask in the right way, at the right time, with the right attitude, and the right follow-up and appreciation you are not going to raise much money.

Third, polish your case for support. The case for support is part of your written strategic plan that outlines the problem in society you are addressing, and why your solutions have a measurable proven track record of success.

Keep it simple, credible, and memorable. You are offering solutions to deep-rooted problems in society that have eternal consequences. Why are you worth supporting and why now? Be clear and concise.

Fourth, tell stories. The best way to move people to action is to tell them moving stories of changed lives. A compelling story moves people to action.

Fifth, ask for the right amount for the right project. A few years ago, I was approached about a project that I was very interested in. It was the right project for me. But then the ministry leader asked me for $10,000.

I remember thinking, “You got to be kidding me. Does this guy think I am Bill Gates?” It was the right project, but the ask was for the wrong amount of money.

So, match people’s capacity to give to the opportunity. And I wholeheartedly believe that big vision with proven outcomes attracts big money. If you have a small ‘nickel and dime’ project, then you will raise nickels and dimes.

Sixth, be a good steward of what the Lord provides. Immediately thank donors and let them know what was accomplished with their gift. Share stories of changed lives and specific numerical outcomes. Fundraising is also about personal communication and relationships.

I read a study on the behavior of donors that reported the four most important issues that determine whether an organization will get a gift are:

  • The donor has a strong belief in the organization’s mission                                                        
  • The donor believes their support will make a difference                      
  • The donated money is used wisely                              
  • The organization has a good reputation                     

Missionary-evangelist Hudson Taylor said, “God’s work done God’s way will not lack God’s support.”

Persist! COVID-19 may have you locked down, but you are not locked out.

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David L. Jones is director of the Next Generation Alliance for the Luis Palau Association. NGA is a coalition of some 800 evangelists and evangelistic ministries. David provides coaching to these ministries in evangelism, strategic planning, organizational development, board governance, finance, media relations, and opportunities for ministry collaboration. He has worked with the Palau Association for over 40 years. David is a member of the Christian Leadership Alliance (CLA), Evangelical Press Association, National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), and the Society of Professional Journalists. He has served on the CLA faculty as well as the NRB's Television Commission. David has served on the boards of over a dozen international Christian ministries and currently serves on the boards of Need Him Global and SAT 7. He frequently consults with nonprofit organizations. Since 1997 he has served as Executive Director of the Palau Foundation for World Evangelism. He and his wife Gayle are members of Village Church where David has served as an elder. David & Gayle make their home in Beaverton, Oregon. They have two daughters and four grandchildren.