28 Nov Fearless Fundraising
We have an image of a courageous Apostle Paul boldly preaching about the Unknown God to the Greeks in Athens (Acts 17:16-33), or casting out a demon from a young fortune-telling girl that triggered a riot which lead to his beating and landed him in prison (Acts 16:16-24), or causing a riot in Ephesus for preaching the Good News (Acts 19:23-41), or standing firm for his faith before King Agrippa (Acts 26). But there’s another side to Paul’s ministry—he came to Corinth in weakness, great fear, and trembling. Some people saw Paul as timid, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing” (2 Cor. 10:10). Those that underestimated Paul as a messenger failed to realize the power of his message. Do you approach your major gift donor meetings with weakness, great fear, and trembling?
Paul embraced weakness. In fact, he “delighted in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:10) because he wanted Christ’s power to rest on him. The Corinthians prided themselves in their wisdom (1 Cor. 3:18-20), but Paul chose the opposite approach. He did not use eloquence, human wisdom, or persuasive words. Rather, he wanted his message to demonstrate the Spirit’s power. If you approach your major donor meetings with pride and overconfidence, you might not get the response you desire. Don’t trust your fancy brochure, professional video, scripted presentation, or winsome personality. Humbly share your need and ask your donor to consider partnering with you. Then trust the Spirit to move in their heart.
Fear is a debilitating emotion. Some are vexed with acrophobia (fear of heights), arachnophobia (fear of spiders), ophidiophobia (fear of snakes) or the dreaded coulrophobia (fear of clowns). Some ministry leaders suffer from the fear of asking because they are afraid the donor will say no. They falsely believe that if a donor declines to give, the donor is rejecting them. This perspective is rooted in pride. It’s not about you. It’s about your ministry and the people you serve. Boost up your courage and ask.
Major donors might intimidate you and cause you to get tongue-tied. Paul’s reliance on the Spirit kept him from shaking in his boots. His trembling turned to confidence as he proclaimed God’s message through God’s power (1 Cor. 2:4). Ezra’s enemies tried to intimidate him from completing God’s mission but, “Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord” (Ezra 3:3). Your best response to anxiety is to keep meeting with donors, keep sharing your ministry stories with confidence, and keep asking.
Think About This: Jerry Panas, the godfather of fundraising, advised, “Asking for a gift shouldn’t set your knees trembling.
Asking isn’t selling. It isn’t razzle dazzle or persuading people to do something they don’t want to do. People want to invest in great causes. They want to feel they’re helping to change lives. It’s your job to help them understand how their money can make things happen.”
Response: Lord, please give me the confidence to approach my ministry partners in humility and love. Help me ask boldly!
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.