Fund Raisers are Leaders
Often fund raisers have the wrong mindset to be effective for what God has called them to do. Instead of having the mindset of a leader they tend to have the mindset of a vendor selling a product. We need to change our mindset to that of a leader providing leadership to people.
There are three approaches to fund raising, which I detail in my book “Art of Fund Raising”. One aims at the heart or the emotions of the donor and presents him a heart rending need faced by people and makes the appeal for funds. The second is aimed at the head or the intellect of the donor, presenting him a vision and strategy which makes sense to him. The third is to appeal to his inner ego need to respond to or follow a charismatic figure, which gives him an ego satisfaction.
Of the three approaches to fund raising – reaching the heart, reaching the head, and reaching the psyche through charisma – the first two are heavily recommended and used in Christian ministry but the third is looked at with suspicion. It is thought that when I have charisma I manipulate people, or brain wash people into supporting me. While this misuse of charisma is a possibility, it is not necessary. Further, it is a tragedy not to use this most effective means of raising finances, as studies have shown that this consistently raises the maximum resources for ministry.
All effective leaders have charisma. Some have it because of the kind of personality they have and others have it because of the kind of reputation they have. While the former is not wrong, it is restricted to a few people. But charisma through reputation is something which is available for all. To have charisma through reputation, what I call the reputation of a prophet, you need this reputation in two areas. One is in your area of expertise, so that when you speak people learn that you can be trusted as you are usually correct in what you say. The other is in your character, so that people can trust you not to have any ulterior motive for what you propose. Because of this reputation of trustworthiness, people listen to you, and come under your influence.
In this sense, organizations which raise funds need to be seen, as experts in the field and so need to develop expertise in their field of ministry. They also need to be seen to be honest, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 8:20. Just being honest is not enough, we need to have a reputation for Christian behaviour, both as an organization as well as individuals. I have used the term ‘Christian Behaviour” rather than integrity, as we need to be seen, as Christian in all aspects of our behaviour and not just in accounts and accountability.
Unfortunately, many fund raisers are not experts in the field of ministry. They can share stories of the ministry from the field, but cannot explain the ministry or its strategy. They also cannot give advice to the donor with confidence, since they lack expertise. Hence, instead of leaders they become vendors, trying to sell what the ministry is doing.
Leaders are of two kinds – those whose vision comes from themselves, of what they want to achieve in life and those whose vision comes from the needs of the people around them. The latter are true leaders of people while the former could be leaders of organizations or projects. Fund Raisers need to be leaders of people.
More than asking for money, fund raisers are making friends for the organization. These friends are looking to the organization and the fund raiser for leadership in specific areas where they are unable to find answers for a variety of reasons ranging from lack of time to lack of academia. These specific areas are an understanding of their stewardship responsibilities for the resources God has entrusted to them and information on ministries which they could support for maximum ROI for the kingdom of God.
Leaders understand the needs of the people and lead them to find solutions to those needs. This is exactly what the fund raiser does – he provides leadership to the donors of the organization in finding solution to their problems – especially in finding suitable ministries to invest in.
The fund raiser’s character is seen in their willingness to meet the needs of the donor in all areas of his life. If he only shows interest in talking about his ministry and not about the donor, the donor knows that there is no interest in him but only in his bank balance. This interest needs to be a genuine interest, and not just façade. A façade can quickly be seen through.
When I am primarily interested in the donor, and his needs, I am helping him to develop a vision for himself, and his resources, so that I can help him to fulfil his vision. There can be a conflict of interest as he may have a vision for a ministry that is not the one I represent. But to me that does not matter, as it is all going to support the kingdom of God. When he finds, that I am helping him in his vision and interests, he may at some time, feel the need to be involved in my vision too.
The fund raiser needs to be an expert on missions, so that he can teach donors and potential donors on missions and where their organization fits into the mission scene. He needs to also be aware of other ministries. Remember, we are helping the donors and potential donors to fulfil their vision and our ministry may not be a fit to their vision. Ultimately we are serving the kingdom of God, and so we do not force our ministry on anyone. We try and help people get the vision for our ministry.
Teaching and educating on Biblical stewardship is an essential part of the fund raisers role and he needs to be proficient as a teacher and communicator. He needs to have studied the subject of stewardship in detail and should be able to respond to queries the potential donor may have.
The fund raiser also helps the donor develop a vision for what God wants him to do. He does this by sharing about missions, social action, what the Bible teaches on these topics, the various needs in the country and the world. By doing this you expand the vision of the donor to understand the world he lives in, understand why God has given him resources and begins to give as a part of his vision rather than as a means of supporting you or your organization. It is at this stage that he has the maximum commitment to the work as he sees it as his vision.
All leaders are great communicators. If they have a solution for the needs of the people and are unable to communicate their solution effectively, their leadership will be weak or may even fail completely. While some people seem to be natural communicators, it is a skill that can be acquired by training.
Fund raisers are usually trained communicators, but usually communicate what they do in the manner of a salesman. Instead they need to be communicators of a vision and be providing solutions to the needs of donors around the area of godly stewardship.
All these are leadership roles and so I believe that all fund raisers need to be leaders in temperament and skills.