Convincing Skeptical Donors

The officer had said to the man of God, “Look, even if the Lord should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?” The man of God had replied, “You will see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat any of it!” (2 Kings 7:19).

Ben-Hadad king of Aram laid siege to Samaria causing starvation so severe that people were eating donkey’s heads, pigeon droppings, and even cannibalizing their children (2 Kings 6:26-30). The king of Israel blamed Elisha and vowed to kill him. Elisha prophesied that the Lord would open the floodgates of heaven and rescue them the very next day, but the king’s first officer scoffed. There’s always a skeptic who questions your fundraising plans proclaiming, “It will never happen!”

Is your ministry facing a difficult financial situation? Do people question your sanity when you tell them that fundraising is the answer to your problems? Keep taking these four donor development steps:

Discover
Many ministries respond to crises like the people of Samaria. They hunker down and don’t ask others for help. In a last-ditch effort, four lepers decided to approach the Aramean’s camp and beg for bread. They discovered an incredible sight. During the night, the soldiers heard voices from the Lord and ran for their lives leaving all their food and possessions. The four lepers went from tent to tent gobbling and grabbing as much as they could.

Sometimes, we assume major donors aren’t interested in giving to our ministry. We don’t ask them, we just assume. Remember this fundraising rule, “Don’t decide for your donors. Let them decide for themselves.” Schedule discovery visits with your key prospects and ask questions.

Qualify
The lepers gorged themselves and then felt remorse for the people in the city. So, they went to the city walls and shouted the good news. The king was skeptical but sent soldiers to check out the lepers’ story. You should qualify potential major donors. What is their link to your organization? Does their giving interest align with your mission? Do they have the financial ability to give a significant gift?

Cultivate
Many times, we are tempted to push the relationship faster than the donor is ready. A donor downloaded a free resource from a radio ministry. The ministry followed up immediately with an email appeal, even before the donor had a chance to read the document. The Israelites could skip the donor cultivation step because their “donors” were long gone. However, you cannot jump to the ask before you earn the right to ask.

Solicit
Some fundraisers love making discovery, qualifying, and cultivating visits but fall short when it comes to soliciting. You can’t hint or hope, you must go ask for a gift. Once the word got out that the enemy was gone, the people rushed to Aramean’s camp and picked up their “gifts.” Elisha’s prophecy came true. God supplied a miracle, and the skeptical officer was trampled.

Response: Father, give me courage to keep asking even when skeptics stand in my way.

Think About This: There are three types of fundraisers. The Wills, the Won’ts, and the Can’ts. The Wills will accomplish everything. The Won’ts will oppose everything, and the Can’ts won’t do anything. Which fundraiser are you?

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 two books: Ask for a Fish – Bold Faith-Based Fundraising and Simply Share – Bold, Grace-Based Giving. He regularly presents fundraising workshops at ministry conferences and has written fundraising articles for At the Center magazine and Christian Leadership Alliance’s Outcomes magazine.

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