A Man Carrying a Jar of Water

So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’” (Mark 14:13-14).

This curious story from Holy Week feels like a scene from a spy thriller. “You will meet a man wearing a pink carnation. Follow him.” One explanation is Jesus was protecting his disciples by keeping the location of the Last Supper a secret from the Jewish leaders. The disciples obeyed Jesus’ instructions and found everything as he said. This story teaches four fundraising lessons.

Go Meet
Often when we dig into our donor database, we don’t see many wealthy people. One major gift officer lamented, “I would like to find a few donors who have more than two nickels to rub together!” Jesus scheduled his disciples for this unusual divine appointment. The disciples didn’t have to search for the man carrying a jar of water because “he will meet you.” Be aware of every person who comes across your path. The Holy Spirit can lead you to the right person at the right time.

The nugget in this gospel account is the man carrying the jar of water wasn’t the owner of the house who provided for their needs. He led them to the owner of the house. You may not have many major donors on your list, but perhaps you know someone who can introduce you to high impact donors. Look for connectors who are wired. Always ask, “Who do you know that might be interested in our project?”

The Owner
One important fundraising principle is, “Never take a “no” from someone who can’t give you a “yes.” The servant with the water jar wasn’t the decision-maker, the homeowner was. As you research your potential donors, determine if you’re talking with the right person or if there someone else who will make the final decision. You might be talking with the son, when it’s the father or grandmother who will decide whether to support your ministry and for how much.

Specific Ask
You are not asking for yourself but for your ministry. Give your donors the opportunity to make an eternal difference with their gift. When the disciples asked the owner for help, they framed their request as, “The Teacher asks…” They had a specific request. Asking for a specific amount or a range gives your donor something new to consider. Perhaps you can frame your request like this, “Would you prayerfully consider partnering with us for a gift in the range of _____ to _____?

Think About This: A major gift officer asked a donor to refer someone who might be interested in supporting the ministry. The donor replied, “Our very best friends shared with us last week that they made $300,000 in the stock market.” The gift officer searched the database and found this prospective couple had already given several smaller gifts, so he renewed their relationship. Eventually, this “new” donor gave a $75,000 gift.

Response: Lord, open my eyes to the divine appointments you have scheduled for me.

Ron Haas has served the Lord as a pastor, the vice president of advancement of a Bible college, a Christian foundation director, a board member and a fundraising consultant. He’s authored three books: Ask for a Fish – Bold Faith-Based Fundraising, Simply Share – Bold, Grace-Based Giving, and Keep on Asking – Bold, Spirit-Led Fundraising. He regularly presents fundraising workshops at ministry conferences and has written fundraising articles for  Christian Leadership Alliance’s Outcomes magazine.

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