Before rushing head-long into fundraising, consider this.

When organizational leaders decide to get serious about fundraising, there’s usually a financial crisis brewing. Which means they’re not much interested in spending time on foundational issues. If I’m the one they call for advice (a.k.a. the magic bullet), however, that’s exactly where I try to take them.

Specifically, I tell ministry folks that their future success in fundraising depends on their answers to questions in three key areas: the readiness of their own hearts, the readiness of the organization, and the rightness of perspectives. Before rushing head-long into fundraising, it’s essential that would-be fundraisers (CEOs and board members, that includes you) consider the following.

figure_running_to_target_11137SUCCESS IN FUNDRAISING IS A MATTER OF THE HEART, MIND, AND PURSE.

Time and again, I return to Martin Luther’s reference to three conversions – that of the heart, the mind, and the purse. When raising funds for Christ-centered causes, all three are essential. You can pick up the hows of fundraising via workshops, webinars, blogs, coaching, and courses, but no one can address heart and purse issues for you. You’re on your own with those.

Questions to ask:

  • How comfortable am I with money?
  • How generous am I with my money?
  • What is the relationship between my attitude toward money and my call to ministry?

SUCCESS IN FUNDRAISING IS A MATTER OF ORGANIZATIONAL READINESS.

On this point, I think of Jesus’ caution in Luke 14 about the importance of planning before tackling a big task, be that building a tower, going to war, or (I think He would add) launching a fundraising program. Minus an honest, clearheaded examination of organizational readiness for fundraising, there’s little chance of success and an almost sure promise of disappointment.

Questions to ask:

  • How realistic is the organization in setting fundraising goals?
  • How generous is the organization’s budget to the fundraising effort?
  • Is fundraising viewed as an add-on to or as an integral part of the ministry?

SUCCESS IN FUNDRAISING IS A MATTER OF PROPER PERSPECTIVE.

When phrases like “twist some arms,” “pick a few pockets,” or “shake-downs” pop up in boardroom discussions of fundraising, I cringe – for the organization and for the good folks who support it. In place of disparaging words, I urge embarrassed (or worse, hostile) fundraisers to repeat the following until they can say these things with conviction.

  • Fundraising is not begging.
  • Fundraising is not a necessary evil.
  • Fundraising is not an add-on to the real ministry.
  • Fundraising is about inviting others into an exciting mission.
  • Within the context of Christ-centered organizations, fundraising is ministry.

So back to the title of this article. Before rushing head-long into fundraising, spend time on the foundational issues listed here. Success in fundraising is much more likely to follow.

For articles on related themes, see:

7 requisites for doing fundraising well

Fundraising as ministry begins with a plan

Oh where, oh where is the proud fundraising board?

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