Act now to break the insanity cycle in fundraising

I wish it wasn’t so, but the financial reality of way too many ministry organizations makes it tough to believe that God is enough. The specter of scarcity seems to lurk around every corner, and especially so at fiscal year-end. 

Organizational leaders can talk ’til the cows come home about confidence in God’s abundance, but the words ring hollow when every year brings another shortfall. The annual budget-related cliff-hanger should raise questions for organizational leaders about the wisdom of pursuing the same decisions year after year. You know what they say about the definition of insanity . . . and yet organizational leaders push on, repeating the same old, same old.

Clearly, it is time for change and that includes in ministry boardrooms. With attention to the following tips, board members can help break the insane cycle of desperation fundraising. 

  • Calibrate fundraising goals to the ability of the organization’s constituent base. There’s not much sense in establishing goals that are beyond what we know is reasonable. Encouraging supporters to stretch themselves on behalf of the school is wise; setting goals beyond the capacity of the constituency is not.
  • Respond to God’s call to generous giving with their own gifts. Although I’ve made a few people unhappy over the years with this admonition, I’m not backing away from urging generous and sacrificial giving by board members. After all, that is what is asked of others within the school’s constituent base. Every board member should “walk the talk” of generosity as a calling. 
  • Develop holistic measures of success in fundraising. It’s not enough for trustees to state that nurturing donors in their call to generosity is a priority. Boards need to back up their rhetoric with methods for tracking anticipated outcomes, including seeking evidence of God’s good work in donors’ hearts.

There’s more than enough wealth tucked away in believer’s pockets to lift ministry organizations to unimaginable heights. However, it will take someone or some group to spread the gospel of generous giving as a call from God for the money to be released.

The board of a ministry organization can be such a group. There are no more powerful evangelists for fundraising as ministry than volunteer leaders who’ve experienced the three conversions identified by Martin Luther: the conversion of the heart, the mind, and the purse.


  1. Carol Lytch says:

    That photo really caught my eye! Then I read the three points and I find that there’s a lot of realism in them. We just discourage ourselves when we fail to meet unrealistic expectations over and over again. Thanks! Carol Lytch

  2. You’re right, Carol. It’s a self-defeating practice to set unrealistic goals for the fundraising program. Although plugging in a number that’s out of reach is a way to make the budget “work” in the planning stage, to do so is simply kicking the problem down the road.The board and the organization will have to face the music at some point. It’s always better to do so sooner than later.

What's your take on this topic?

%d bloggers like this: