Is fundraising part of your ministry’s culture?
No? Perhaps this is the scenario:
A new fundraiser has just started at a ministry and someone walks up to them and says, “Wow;
am I glad YOU’RE here! We need you!” The new person smiles politely but can’t wait to step aside to roll
their eyes because everyone is in for a sad surprise.
A well-meaning fundraiser smiles and pretends that they ARE the answer to the ministry’s
problem. Then they try to be what is expected – a magician – as they go through their list of contacts,
get a few new ones and either hit the road for a new job after a couple of years or leave burned out and
But what does it mean and how do you know a fundraising culture when you see it?
You’ll know that you’ve stepped into a fundraising culture when you hear:
- Leadership tell you that a fundraiser’s job is to exponentially boost the fundraising capacity
and capabilities of a ministry, not be solely responsible for setting the strategy of the
ministry.This is important. I can’t count how many meetings I’ve sat in and heard of where strategy is
determined by someone presenting an idea and the rest of the leaders looking at the
development person to ask, “Can we raise the money for that?”
What happened to God’s call on a ministry? What happened to aligning goals with the
mission and vision of the organization? And now, who has to shoulder the responsibility for
its success or rejection? Not the leadership team but the fundraiser.
Of course, fundraising is part of seeing God’s authorization of a strategic direction or project
but not the only element.
- Staff members acknowledge that they are all fundraisers.Every staff or volunteer knows their part in the ministry. You will know it because they have
passion for the mission and their own personal story to match. What they say about the
organization at their small group Bible study should be the best news anyone ever heard.
They are walking billboards for the organization.
Of course there are bad days and problems but those who know a person best should know
that the staff and volunteer is committed because of a deep, personal satisfaction from
seeing the Lord use them. Not only do these committed people usually become givers
sustaining the ministry, they know what to say when someone else wants to give to the
- The best way to tell that your ministry has a fundraising culture is when the biggest
fundraisers are the executive team, managers and board members. NO ONE should ever
hear one of these people say that they don’t like fundraising. Raising committed givers to
the ministry makes more ministry happen. When someone feels that they can be a leader in
the ministry but that they are somehow “above” fundraising, look out. This is not a
Why is it important to have a fundraising culture?
Generally speaking, direction is set by a board and strategy is set by the leadership. The ones
who can best raise funds are those who have passionately made the decisions for the organization and
those who passionately make the ministry a success. A fundraising culture means that fundraisers are
another honoured part of the professional team.
Specifically and Practically:
Leaders are willing to learn and participate in fundraising. The best fundraisers for your non-profit are
those closest to the strategic vision of the organization. The more senior the leadership, the more
effective the impact in revenue. A professional fundraiser serves to accelerate leadership fundraising
A culture where volunteers and staff are celebrated for participating in relationship fundraising. Anyone
overseeing another person in a non-profit organization must realize that their treatment of volunteers
and staff will become the basis on which many potential givers will decide their charitable giving
decisions. Invest in on-boarding volunteers and staff in a way that includes training to develop each
person’s generous giving understanding, including an “Elevator Pitch” – a memorized, 30-second
explanation of how their work positively affects the outcome of the organization.
This Ministry Fundraising Network web site has plenty of tips and its members love to give coaching.
Take advantage of it! We’re here for you.