Small Boy holding a hammer at construction site

DIY Fundraising

The company of the prophets said to Elisha, “Look, the place where we meet with you is too small for us. Let us go to the Jordan, where each of us can get a pole; and let us build a place there for us to meet” (2 Kings 6:1-2).

Occasionally, a board member or major donor will suggest that a ministry can attempt a capital campaign without seeking outside counsel. Perhaps this person had negative experiences with consultants and doesn’t see the value. Perhaps he or she plans to make a significant lead gift and wants all the funds to go for the project. Elisha experienced this do-it-yourself mentality. His school of prophets was bursting at the seams. Their solution was to design-build a new seminary building on the banks of the Jordan River. Four truths emerge from this experience.

Successful Fundraising requires…

This plan didn’t come from the top-down, the prophets brought the plan to Elisha. Grassroots ideas can be successful because donors feel ownership. It’s a blessing to have enthusiastic participation from core supporters. The prophets took a hands-on approach and became architects and general contractors. Some projects might be manageable, but today’s building codes and permit requirements puts most construction projects beyond the average volunteer. The logical question is, “If you use a professional to design and build the building, why wouldn’t you also use a professional to help you raise the money?”

Even though the prophets thought of the idea, they sought Elisha’s blessing before moving forward.

“Then one of them said, ‘Won’t you please come with your servants?’ ‘I will,’ Elisha replied. And he went with them” (2 Kings 2:3-4). Your CEO is your chief fundraiser and must be 100 percent behind your project. His or her leadership will make the difference between your success or failure. Major donors want to believe in your leader—that they will do what they say they will do.

The seminary volunteers were budding theologians, not professional lumberjacks. One of them had a workplace accident and lost the iron ax head he was swinging. “Oh no, my lord!” he cried out. “It was borrowed!” (2 Kings 6:5-6). This seminarian had asked someone if he could borrow the ax head to work on this project. Your campaign depends on people asking others to participate in your project. If your key leaders are willing to ask, you can be successful; if they are unwilling, your success is uncertain.

Divine Intervention
The seminarian stopped working and ran to Elisha for help. Elisha asked where it fell into the water and miraculously caused the iron to float. This wonderful scene reinforces that all our labors are futile without the Lord’s help. Fundraising is a divine-human endeavor. You might think you can accomplish your project in your own strength but, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1).

Think About This: Your board member and/or major donor might insist on a Do-It-Yourself Fundraising campaign. The key to your success is their involvement—they must step up and “Do-It!” with you.

Response: Lord, please give us wisdom to plan and implement a successful campaign. Help us work as hard as we can and trust you for your results.

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 At the Center magazine and Christian Leadership Alliance’s Outcomes magazine.

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