Finding Hidden Major Donors

“As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away” (Matthew 27:57-60).

Joseph of Arimathea plays an important role in the crucifixion account. Prior to the cross, Scripture reveals he was a prominent member of the Council and a good and upright man (see Luke 23:50). After the cross, we discover Joseph was a secret disciple of Jesus who had not consented to the Council’s decision (see Luke 23:51). He boldly asked Pilate for Jesus’ body which he and Nicodemus prepared and laid in his personal tomb. Joseph was a covert disciple who rose to the occasion to serve Jesus. How can you uncover hidden major donors?

Pay Attention
Even the casual observer recognized Joseph was a rich, influential man. Donor research gathers hard and soft data. Hard data comes from observation. What does your prospect do for a living? What external indications of wealth can you see? A wealth asset screening can provide some insights. Soft data is more difficult to learn. What motivates your prospect to give? Would your mission resonate with their heart? You can learn this insider information by simply asking your potential donor in a discovery call. Reach out to their family and friends for further insights. No doubt his friend Nicodemus had many conversations with Joseph about Jesus, perhaps he even shared his John 3 conversion encounter. Joseph’s heart may have been a secret to others, but not to Nicodemus.

Create Significance
God prepared Joseph for this moment to serve. He was a leading member of the Council known by Pilate, so he had access to make his request. Unlike the apostles, he had the financial ability to contribute something no one else could. He had even pre-arranged his burial and could offer his personal tomb as a gift to Jesus. Major donors fund projects few others can. They desire to give significant gifts which will make an eternal difference for the Kingdom. Are you presenting opportunities focused on heavenly results or merely earthly things?

Inspire Boldness
Joseph went boldly to Pilate to ask for Jesus’ body (Mark 15:43). Joseph knew his stand for Jesus would cost him his personal reputation, his status on the Council, and possibly even his friends and family. He was willing to risk it all because the reward was so great. A generous Christian businessman made an insightful comment, “Some ministries have the attitude, ‘Send us your checks and we’ll do the rest.’ It’s easy to give money, it requires a much greater commitment to invest your time and talent.” Don’t just ask for money. Invite your donors to participate in your ministry.

Think About This: You will discover hidden major donors when you give them a reason to boldly stand with you.

Response: Lord, please open my eyes to those who could partner with us in significant ways.

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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