Effective Donor Follow Up

“But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be” (2 Corinthians 9:3).

What do you say to donors who pledge but never give? Perhaps the most difficult concept that Paul addresses in 2 Corinthians 8–9 is accountability. Paul had approached the Corinthian church the year before about giving to the believers in Jerusalem who were suffering from persecution and poverty. The church immediately responded with a gift and enthu­siastically promised more. Paul was so pleased with their initial generosity that he shared their story everywhere he went. Many other churches were motivated to give because of the Corinthians’ leadership pledge but they never got around to sending their gift. This was unacceptable to Paul. He was counting on their gift, the church in Jerusalem was counting on their gift, and now the churches in Macedonia who gave because of their example were paying attention. Paul writes to prompt the Corinthians to keep their promise.

Action or Inaction
The Corinthians’ good intentions didn’t translate into actions. If your donor doesn’t follow through, should you just forget the pledge? Paul sent a pledge reminder letter to follow up, but then he sent the brothers to check on their gift. John taught, “let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18). Your donor’s inaction toward you speaks of their character. Your actions to hold your donor accountable demonstrate your love toward them.

Pride or Embarrassment
Paul had told everyone about the Corinthians’ generosity. Paul was proud of their initial leadership, (2 Cor. 8:24), but their reputation and his reputation were in jeopardy if they reneged on their pledge. Now was the time to finish what they started (2 Cor. 8:11). How often you follow-up with these donors is up to you, but it’s important to stay on top of these ministry partners in a kind and caring way.

Urgent or Optional
Two times Paul mentions he was sending the brothers. He was so urgent because he had already counted their gift. Help your donors realize that your ministry’s key initiatives won’t happen if they don’t follow through with their promise. When you visit them, be respectful, empathetic, and sensitive to the fact that life happens, occasionally causing donors to fall behind on their payments.

Obedience or Disobedience
Don’t focus on the negative. Focus on the positive things that will be accomplished when your ministry partner is able to fulfil their pledge. Remind your donors of the people who will be changed for eternity because of their generosity. “Others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them” (2 Cor. 9:13).

Think About This: Paul emphasized that we should give generously and cheerfully, not grudgingly, reluctantly, or under compulsion. This means Titus and the brothers did not twist anyone’s arms, but they did share Paul’s message face to face. Perhaps the brothers’ very presence made the difference.

Response: Father, please give me the words to say as I visit our ministry partners who are behind on their pledge.

Friend, have a Spirit-led fundraising week!

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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