Identify a need, establish a plan to meet that need, enlist financial support to carry out the plan, and demonstrate to investors the worthiness of their investment. This was the approach of D.L. Moody (Founder of the Moody Bible Institute).
Biblical fundraising is about encouraging, challenging and inspiring God’s people to participate in God’s ministry and His purposes. We are to be participating in loving God and loving people: feeding the hungry, responding against injustice, helping the poor, giving the powerless dignity, and at the least sharing the Gospel. God has not left His people helpless or wanting in the things we need to be a participant. Each of His children has been given some form of talent, some amount of time, and a portion of resources. So why, if God has clearly shared with us His purposes and has provided us with the abilities to participate, are so many of us not involved, standing on the side, being a spectator and not a player? It may have a lot to do with this word Stewardship, or more clearly our lack of understanding of Stewardship.
Jesus warns us of the importance of stewardship in Matthew 25:29.
“To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. “
Today’s Poor Widow Story
“I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty…” Mark 12:43-44
In Southern Madagascar a ministry team is doing church planting among the remote unreached villages. The people are very poor materially. They eat only once a day and are struggling to survive because of the drought and famine. The wife of the chief in one particular village responded positively to the Gospel. She along with some other women and few men has a big heart for their community. They not only want to share the Gospel, but they also want to bring community transformation through a literacy program. She asked the ministry team to help and they provided training to be able to start and continue a literacy program. Soon after, the chief’s wife opened her hut home to be the classroom. The response from the villagers was more than they anticipated and her home became inadequate – too small to fit everyone coming for the program. The chief’s wife went back to the ministry team and shared about the excitement of the literacy program and also about the problem. The team challenged the community to give what they can to see a classroom built. The village chief responded to this challenge positively and gave a tract of land. The villagers also responded well by providing materials for the construction and today they are busy building the classroom. The ministry team’s leader was amazed by these acts of generosity and shared:
“If people who get less than 1US dollar per day can give generously, everyone can do it. Fundraising is possible amongst even the materially poor people.”
Today’s King David Story – Building the Temple
“But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you gave us first. … O lord our God, even this material we have gathered to build a Temple to honor your holy name comes from you! It all belongs to you!” 1 Chronicles 29:14-16
In a remote jungle village of Central America, is an unreached people group that a team of missionaries began to minister. They would drive 8 hours from the capital city a few times a year to share the Gospel and tend to the physical and emotional needs of these people. God had put it on their heart to establish a more permanent base in the jungle, a place where on-going ministry and community development projects could be launched. By the grace of God, they had several opportunities to share this vision with a man of exceptional wealth. This man had never even been on a short-term mission trip, but he had decided to go and see. While visiting the people of the village, and sharing his faith and hearing of their ancestral gods, a moment of clarity overcame him and he knew what to do. He expressed that God was the owner and provider of all that he had received – his businesses, his talent, and his wealth. With an initial significant gift, this man led the efforts to supply and fund the missionary base. In a period of two years, the missionary base became a reality: buildings, water, electricity, a community vegetable garden, and a community center. In speaking with this man recently, he shared this testimony:
“Generosity is one of my greatest joys, and I have God to thank for that. It is a gift equal to all He has given me in riches and material things.”
As a fundraiser we must understand that our giving partners are trying to fulfill God’s call to be good stewards and to manage their finances well, so that the Gospel will go out through message and actions. And we must remember that stewardship is our call as well. Our giving partners are trying to fulfill God’s expectations, and they in turn are asking us upon receiving the gift to do likewise.
So in what ways can we as fundraisers and leaders of ministry demonstrate stewardship and honor both God and our giving partners? Jesus gives us guidance, some clues recorded in the book of Luke 16:10-12.
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?”
Being a trustworthy fundraiser and ministry is the key in demonstrating stewardship to your giving partners. And there are some basic steps to build trust between you and your ministry and your giving partners. I say “basic” steps, but I do not use the word “simple”, because doing these things requires commitment, diligence, and intentional practice.
- Be truthful in all communications with your giving partner. Report the activities that were actually done and what outcomes were actually achieved. Be willing to share what did not go so well and the lessons you learned from the experience.
- Communicate often with your giving partners. Report back but also develop the relationship so that you get to know them and they get to know you and your ministry. Above all in communicating listen well and encourage them in their journey of generosity.
- Manage the gift well by keeping track of your finances. Use the gift for what you and the donor agreed upon as the intended purpose of the gift.
- Manage your projects and programs well. Our giving partners deserve your best in effectiveness of ministry and efficiency of finances.
As a fundraiser, we have a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate Biblical stewardship. We have a unique role in helping others mature in Biblical Stewardship. It is a joy and a privilege, and in doing so we bring honor to God and excite the spirit of generosity in others.