Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting in the Lord means safety – Proverbs 29:25
Rejection, feeling as a beggar, or causing harm to a friendship are just some of the thoughts and fears we struggle with as a fundraiser. We often ask ourselves what will be the donor’s reaction when I ask them for money. We worry about how they will see me as a person and respond. Whether we have experience in fundraising and many stories of success, or we are just starting out, these fears and conversations in our thoughts have happened or will happen. The key in finding victory over fear is found by trusting in the Lord. Peace of mind and a settled heart can come when we present our plans and concerns to the Lord and seek His guidance. Just remember this truth, our God owns everything and He will move to release treasures for the Kingdom.
I have travelled throughout the world and have been blessed with meeting people from 70 plus countries. Many of our conversations have been about raising funds for ministry, and people of different cultures do it differently. Many stories have convinced me of the power of prayer.
We wanted to have a 3-day sports camp for children in this remote African village. I asked, “Tell me how did you raise the funds to pay for this outreach? The sports leader then told me this story. Well we began asking our Lord what we should do. He told us to share with the football teams we were already coaching. Each team decided to give us one ball and some of their kits. So we then prayed and asked the Lord where will we find a place for the children to sleep each night? He told us to go to the closest military base and speak to the commander. This commander said we could have the children stay in the barracks. He even allowed us to use the base sports fields. We then asked our Lord, how do we feed the children? He told us to go back to the commander. Again, we were given access to the dining hall each day.
Upon hearing this fundraising technique, I smiled and told the sports leader: “I have nothing to teach you about fundraising.”
In essence, the sports leader’s story is the foundation of fundraising – seek the Lord.
However, I have heard many stories similar to this journey of prayer and guidance and the results were not so evident or the direction from our Lord so clear. In those times when it seems unclear of what we should exactly do, we can learn from Proverbs:
“The wise are mightier than the strong, and those with knowledge grow stronger and stronger. So don’t go to war without wise counsel; victory depends on having many advisors.” Proverbs 24: 5-6
Generosity, giving gifts, and people coming together to help others out, and to see lives and communities transformed, has been happening for a long time. And through the years we have recorded the actions that men and women, who have asked for support, do to see generosity released. There are some steps or activities that seem to make fundraising successful, and that help in any culture – they are universal actions that all fundraiser’s should practice. We call them “The Six Rights”. The knowledge of the six rights is wise counsel, and it comes from many fundraising advisors.
The 6 Rights
The right person, asking the right donor, for the right gift, for the right project, at the right time, in the right way.
- Right Person – who is the right person to relate to and ask for a gift from a new donor or current donor? Consider these things:
- Who on our team knows this donor or has some connection with this donor?
- Who on our team would the donor consider a peer? – Our CEO, our Board Chairperson, the Director of Fundraising, the Director of the Project or Program.
- Who on our team can answer questions about the project being presented or the ministry as a whole?
- Right Donor – is this the right person to ask for a gift? Consider these things:
- Does this person know us? How do they know us? What do they know about us?
- Would this person be interested in this project or in our mission?
- What are the donor’s interests? Have they given to other ministries and what projects have they supported?
- Right Gift – how much money should we ask for, or what non-money gift should we ask for (like-kind gifts)? Consider these things:
- Do we know the donor’s financial ability?
- Do we know how much they have given in the past (gift history)?
- Could we ask for more this time?
- Should we ask for rent-free office space, or something like that?
- Will this be the donor’s first gift to our ministry?
- Right Project –what is the right thing to ask this donor to support? Consider these things:
- Do we know what types of projects or programs that the donor has a passion for? Can we know by looking at past giving?
- What might they have an affinity to or what are some of his/her life experiences? Do we have a project that relates to those experiences?
- What brings the donor greatest joy in giving? Will investing in our project touch that joy?
- What changes or outcomes does the donor want to see in people’s lives and in their community?
- Right Time – when should we ask the donor for a gift? Consider these things:
- Have we established a good relationship with this donor?
- When was the last time we asked the donor for a gift? Is it too soon to ask again?
- Have we sent out a report (stories, outcomes, activities) to the donor letting them know the benefit of their last gift?
- Has the donor indicated they are ready to invest in our ministry or projects?
- Right Way – how should we ask the donor for a gift? Consider these things:
- What should be the setting of the meeting? – At their home, at their office, at a café, or maybe at our ministry base or office.
- Who should be in the conversation during the “ask”?
- Should the “ask” happen in person, or on the phone?
- What proposal or presentation materials should I share at the “ask”?
- How does this donor appreciate being approached, or what will make them the most comfortable?
These Six Rights will help a fundraiser prepare well in asking for a gift. Getting answers to the questions and considerations that are associated with the Six Rights is dependent on developing a relationship with the donor and getting to know them as a person, a steward of God’s provisions. This can only be accomplished by listening well and asking good questions each time we have a conversation with the donor.
Some of us may be a bit skeptical about the Six Rights. Is this a secular approach? Does this really work? Is their any Biblical basis for the formula? If you have your reservations, I suggest that you read Nehemiah chapters 1 and 2. As you read Nehemiah’s approach to getting the resources for building the wall in Jerusalem, I challenge you to look for the 6 rights. They are there!
Again, the foundation of Christian fundraising is seeking God and depending on God’s guidance and His provision. Our aim goes beyond getting the gift. It is also about helping people to practice being good stewards and to experience the joy of generosity.