Donors You Don’t Know Yet

“I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally” (Colossians 2:1).

The Apostle Paul planted fourteen churches in his lifetime. There is no biblical record that Paul ever traveled to Colossae and yet he had an incredible influence on the believers there. Presumably, the church was established by Epaphras, one of Paul’s friends and coworkers (Col. 1:7). How did Paul make such an amazing impact on people he never met face to face? How can you influence donors you haven’t met yet? Consider these four goals:

Encouraged in Heart

Paul’s desire for the believers he knew and those he didn’t know was “that they may be encouraged in heart” (Col. 2:2). He was serious about this, “I want you to know how hard I am contending for you” (Col. 2:1). How do you encourage people you don’t know? You do it by serving the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Mitch was interested in church planting and did an internet search to find a mission that was accomplishing something of eternal value. He found one and sent an initial $1,000 gift.

United in Love

Paul’s second goal was they would be “united in love” (Col. 2:2). No doubt you’ve experienced the unity of the body of Christ. Perhaps you’ve had a conversation with a stranger and discovered they are a believer. Immediately, you have a common bond. This is one of the reasons donors who don’t know you yet, can quickly get to know you. You’re not just friends, you’re family. The ministry thanked Mitch for his gift and visited him to share more information. Mitch signed up for $1,000 a month.

Complete Understanding

Encouragement and unity laid the foundation, but Paul’s final goal for the believers was to have complete spiritual understanding. Donor relationships start by being encouraged in heart and grow deeper by being united in love, but the goal is for your donor to have a complete picture of what your ministry accomplishes for the Lord. Mitch learned more about the ministry’s mission, vision, and impact from a gift officer, executive director, and even the founder. He responded with a $60,000 gift.


What moves a donor from initial gift to major gift? It’s “the mystery of God, namely Christ” (Col. 2:4). When you focus on developing a Christ-centered ministry, those donors who are gospel-focused will find you. Paul connected with these donors three ways: (a) He never stopped praying for them (see Col. 1:9), (b) They learned of him through mutual friends: Epaphras, Tychichus, Onesimus, Philemon, and others (see Col. 4:7-17), and (c) He wrote personal greetings (see Col. 4:15). When Mitch was asked if he would support a capital campaign, he indicated a gift of $100,000!

Think About This:
Even though many believers in Colossae never met Paul personally they knew him from their mutual friends and his writing. You will find new donors through your mutual friends and writing. Cultivating them from an initial gift to a major gift depends on how well you tell your story and ask.

Lord, help me work hard to encourage the donors I don’t know yet.

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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