Seeing + believing = more generous giving

 A study of high-impact donors commissioned by the Gates Foundation validates what a lot of ministry organizations already knew—generosity increases when donors directly encounter issues of real urgency. In other words, it takes seeing the need for some folks to believe that their gifts are neeeded.

That’s why Mark Kramer, author of the study and managing director of FSG Social Impact Consultants, advises nonprofits to try to give donors firsthand experiences of the issues that they’re raising money to help solve. And that’s why Thom Jeavons and I devote an entire chapter in Growing Givers’ Hearts to providing donors with opportunities to take part in the life of the organizations they support.

We challenge fundraising staff in faith-based organizations to look beyond the pressing challenge of meeting operational goals to the blessings donors will experience from their generosity.

The majority of Christians firmly believe that the organizations to which they give are doing good work. Conversations with donors illustrate that most take deep satisfaction in being part of something that is larger and greater than themselves. It is important that fundraisers in faith-centered nonprofits create opportunities for donors’ hearts to follow their gifts and for them to experience the “blessing that issues from generosity” (The Message).

The goal of development work in faith-based organizations should be twofold: to raise the dollars necessary to advance the work at hand and also to give attention to “what may be credited to [the individual’s] account.” In sum, our goal is for donors to grow in faith and joy through the opportunities for sharing and belonging we make available to them.

On the surface, this principle seems so obvious that we should not have to mention it. Yet what we discovered in our research is that fundraisers too often forget or fail to make time for the individuals whose gifts they seek. Exemplary programs, however, seek to make room for donors and to honor the fact that when they give, they give—and want to give—of themselves as well as their resources. In this they point the way for all faith-based organizations in the work of fundraising.

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