Fundraising, as we all know, refers to the process of creating content and communicating with an intent to convince the listener and get committed support for the work we represent. The “Call to Action” determines whether a fundraising communication will be effective or not. The action almost always begins with conviction before it shows out as a support. Let us see how we can effectively generate a cadre of supporters for the call of Christ upon the Church.
Marketing evolution of Ministry Fundraising: Evangelical Marketing through electronic and social media, that was mostly a hit or miss campaign, has now evolved into a fine art. Sustainable and successful evangelical ministries are so because they have leveraged the charisma of the messenger who consistently interacts with a potential audience and sustains their interest by preaching practical and relevant messages. The gospel is often presented in a layman’s language and caters to a layman’s needs. The books and tapes offered by the ministry at a cost become tools for assessing the listener’s buy-in to the message even while covering the cost of recruiting the potential donor. The product transactions with the ministry has given a captive audience to appeal to for further support or partnerships.
Marketing experts are being hired by these evangelical media-ministries to scope for ways to improve quality of content and enhance relevance of the messages. This has been necessitated because the message on electronic and social media is being accessed by both believers and non-believers. These experts study audience needs and behaviour to draw inferences and give ideas to the ministry to improve their reach, impact, and financial inflows. Interestingly, quite a good percentage of the products are purchase by those who are not believers. This way the ministry is funded not just by believers of the Christian gospel but also by those who do not!
The advent of electronic and social media which favored only entertainers and news agencies was seen favouring the tele-evangelists to leading to a phenomenal growth of charismatic tele-evangelistic ministries over the years.
These aggressive marketing approaches have come under a lot of criticism, chief among them being, ‘tele-evangelism’ has been a road to personal enhancement of the messenger. The opulent lifestyles and enviable following have made us overlook the reach and impact of the methodology employed by these charismatic preachers!
There are two things worthy of note and emulation by even a conservative fundraiser who spurns a larger-than-life and prosperous ‘tele-evangelist’
Firstly, making the gospel relevant to all mankind: Gospel (good news) needs to be presented as good news for all the world to be able to first understand and then listen.
Mark 16:15 – And he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to every creature”
A listener who listens to the message buys into the message because of its personal relevance and not because of the vision of the organisation the preacher represents. Without the pressure of being persuaded, the listener ends up sustaining the ministry by buying the products like tapes and books. Later, this donor who has experienced the power of gospel to help his soul, has a higher probability of becoming a believer. After all the good news was meant for the sinners not merely the believing ‘saints’.
Secondly, mobilising support for the gospel from non-believers: Romans 1:16 – I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, then to the Greek. Having experienced the power of gospel as a balm for the soul, the listener now has a greater openness to receiving in the spirit as well. The relevance of the message makes it easy to convert the listener to a believer and from a believer to a giver. It is then up to the conscience of the tele-evangelist to use donor engagement strategies (newsletter, magazines etc) to graduate the listener from just drinking milk to digest the meat of the gospel.
Marketing motives of a ministry fundraiser: Every successful professional fundraiser engaged in a campaign is trained to find answers to the question, ‘what is in it for me?’ at every turn during the run of the campaign. The fundraiser spares no effort to make the appeal more powerful and personal with a call for action and facility to donate immediately. Donation forms, call centers to pick up enquiries, personal pick-up facility are ways to translate the intent to funds as soon as we can.
Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. – Phil 4:17
But the ministry fundraiser must be groomed to go a little further, and genuinely be concerned to find answer to the question, ‘what is in it for the donor’?
As, Paul the apostle clarified during his fundraising appeals, the objective of our asking is always to ensure that the giving to us amplifies blessings to the trusting giver. The donor must be able to see the appreciation of not just his wealth but also his understanding of the goodness of God with every communication and contact that proceeds from the organisation. Cookie cutter messages are often seen through and we will end up losing not just the funds but also an opportunity to build another person in the body of Christ into greater maturity.
Marketing moves of a ministry fundraiser: Faith-based organisations must never be tempted to manipulate the mind of a potential donor. We must move in the spirit even while working with the professional tools and techniques to back us up in fundraising. Ministry fundraisers end-objective is to win the spirit of the donor even while winning the donor’s support for the work of the organisation one represents. It starts with an attitude of submission and adaptability, not a posture of superiority.
As apostle Paul rightly said,
1 Cor 9:19 -23 – Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible… To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
We would then begin to engage in a dialogue with a potential donor through appeals created to the level and need of the listener. We would present it at times when donor is listening and able to respond. We would be patient to address donor’s misgivings and doubts. We are open to criticism and feedback. We begin to rope in the donor as one who is a valuable partner of Christ which in turn would definitely translate into a partnership with our organisation.
This is the confidence we have in approaching Godl that if we ask anything to His will, he hears us. And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of Him – 1 John 5:14-15
By flowing in with right moves and motives, we can confidently pray and expect an overflow…to be fruitful and multiply the work of God through Christ!