A ministry leader from a developing country recently connected with me through a social media website. His first communication was to ask me for funds for a personal project that would benefit one his family members. While the project was important to him, it seemed as if the only reason he wanted my social media “friendship” was to ask for money, as if he thinks I have a lot of it. And he wanted the gift right now.

Now, I try to be sensitive to the Lord’s leading in these matters and I don’t get offended by people asking. But it’s not likely that I (or most donors) am going to give to someone I have never met, from another country and for a personal (not ministry) project after a brief connection on social media. As anyone in the fundraising business knows, there are some people in ministry who steward money wisely and others who don’t. Without knowing this person, I couldn’t be sure my gift would be used as intended so I pointed him here to the MFN website. His next request a day later was to ask me to become his fundraiser in the USA for a different project. Hmmm.

As aggressive as he was, I empathize with his dilemma. He has bills to pay and needs money right now. But if “getting money now” is your singular focus, you could be setting yourself up for discouragement and frustration. Why? Because as strange as it sounds, “getting money” is not the primary issue; winning donors is. Let me explain.

In the same way that a business doesn’t have money without customers, ministries don’t have money without givers. You need relationships with many people who will stand with you in prayer and giving far beyond the first gift transaction. If you need money, the solution is finding more donors, and ultimately building relationships with them for long term support.

This may seem pretty basic, but many a ministry leader has fallen victim to an unbalanced focus on raising funds rather than winning friends. So what is your focus? If your focus is on just getting the money, people may feel that is all you want from them. This attitude could make you look like a “beggar” and it makes them feel as if all you want is their money.

But if your focus is on building a relationship that offers genuine partnership and mutual benefits, then givers will be more likely to partner with you financially over the long haul and feel great about doing so. Their giving of money is their part of the value exchange. You love and pray for them, offering them a chance to participate in God’s work; they give in return. That kind of relationship is what ultimately produces more money for ministry.

So what could my friend have done differently? Read my next blog, How to win a donor.

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