Creating a Healthy Fundraising Culture (Part 2)

February 8, 2016

Last week I discussed three tensions we feel in the world of development, and as a followup I want to discuss how we manage those tensions. 

Here are the types of activities that I want our team to focus on and the corresponding metrics that help ensure we keep a proper mindset as it relates to fundraising:

1.    Sow a lot of Seeds

We know that not every person is going to resonate with our mission or feel led to support it financially, but the more people we share it with, the greater number of people will partner with us. We know from the parable of the sower that some seeds will fall on the path or get choked out by weeds but some will bear a tenfold harvest. So, we try to scatter as much seed as possible. Therefore, setting goals around the number of meetings and calls pushes my team to get in front of people and share the vision.

2.    Sow Good Seeds

When you get an audience with a prospective supporter, it is important that you are prepared to share your story, vision, and impact in a way that is clear, compelling, and gives confidence to the donor. We work hard to equip our team with the materials and message that will best communicate our mission.

3.    Water and Cultivate

Sometimes people are quick to give a gift and others wait for much longer, but regardless, we want to continue nurturing the relationship. This is done by stopping talking, asking questions, and learning everything we can about them. Do our passions align? If not, can we help this person connect with another ministry? How can we add value to this person? Have we communicated what their gift accomplished? Have we expressed our gratitude in a personal way? There are a number of different ways to measure these activities in an organization. One organization I know of measures the amount of money spent on stamps. That is an indicator of how many notes are being written to donors. Whether it is by sharing a book or a relationship, celebrating a special occasion, or grieving with a donor, we want donors to know that we genuinely care about our supporters and not about what we can get from them.

4.    Measure and Celebrate the Harvest

This may seem contrary to the rest of the post, but you still have to pay attention to how much money you raise. Why do I say this? If we are sowing a lot of good seeds and being faithful to water and cultivate, then I believe God is going to bring some harvest. So, if we are not seeing any results from our efforts, we need to look back and make sure we are doing the right activities. The harvest is an indicator of whether or not the farmer did the right activities throughout the rest of the year. When it is all said and done, we celebrate the harvest because we know that every gift is precious.

To paraphrase one of my board members- we cannot do what only God can do, and He will not do for us what he has asked us to do. When you keep your roles clear, you will discover a new love and passion for fundraising.