Finding Hidden Major Donors

Finding Hidden Major Donors

“As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 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. What we know about him is literally B.C. and A.D. Before the cross, we observe that he was a rich man who had commissioned a garden tomb for himself; he was a prominent member of the Council and a good and upright man (see Luke 23:50). After the cross, we learn that Joseph was a secret disciple of Jesus who had not consented to the Council’s decision. Instead, he took decisive action to boldly ask Pilate for Jesus’ body which he and Nicodemus prepared and placed in his tomb. Joseph was a hidden disciple who rose to the occasion to serve Jesus.

How can you discover hidden major donors?

Pay Attention.

Even the casual observer recognized that Joseph was a rich, influential man who had prepared a very nice final resting place for himself. 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 ascertain. What motivates your prospect to give? Would your mission resonate with their heart? This insider information is most likely gleaned from your prospect’s family and friends. No doubt his friend Nicodemus had many conversations with Joseph about Jesus, perhaps he even shared his John 3 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. Unlike the apostles, he had the financial ability to contribute something no one else could. He was a leading member of the Council known by Pilate, so he had access to make his request. He had even pre-arranged for his burial and could offer his personal tomb as a gift to Jesus. Major donors fund projects that few others can; significant projects that will make an eternal difference for the Kingdom. Are you presenting opportunities focused on earthly things or heavenly things?

Inspire Boldness.

Mark emphasizes that Joseph went boldly to Pilate to ask for Jesus’ body (Mark 15:43). Joseph knew that his stand for Jesus would cost him his personal reputation, his status on the Council, and possibly even his friends and family, but he was willing to take the risk 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.

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

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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