Five Fundraising Foxes

“Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom” (Song of Songs 2:15).

Little things can drive wedges between you and your donors. The Bridegroom warned his Bride to catch the little foxes that would spoil their vine. In a marriage, the little differences which attracted you and your spouse can become huge annoyances if you don’t apply love in liberal doses. Fundraising is similar. How many former donors are on your “Do Not Contact” list because of an offence? Watch out for these five little foxes:

Poor Communication

Every failed donor relationship can be traced back to a fundamental issue—lack of communication.

The true root problem is really the absence of attentive listening. Stephen Covey observed, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” We focus more on what we plan to say next instead of what the donor is saying. Foster successful donor relationships by listening more than speaking. Dedicate at least half of your donor conversations to active listening to glean vital insights into their core values and motivations.

Unmet Expectations

Donors believe you will use their gift for what you say you will. Unfortunately, when budgets get tight ministry leaders are tempted to find ways to apply designated gifts to undesignated budget items. These bookkeeping gymnastics may cover short-term budget needs but will often create long-term donor issues. When a donor’s gift is used for another purpose without their consent, they may feel betrayed, misled, frustrated, and distrustful towards your organization.

Lack of Empathy

Sometimes we focus so much on our programs and our financial needs we forget to show love and compassion. A donor shared the sad story of one trusted employee who had just embezzled $150,000. The donor representative was prepared to ask for $150,000 gift. Wisely, he kept the proposal in his folder for another day and focused on encouraging the donor in his loss. Be sensitive to the Spirit and “mourn with those who mourn” (Rom. 12:15).

Taking Donors for Granted

If every conversation you have with your donors is asking for money, you will quickly burn your relationships. Avoid treating your donors as mere ATM machines, expecting money to effortlessly flow out by pushing a few buttons. Treasure donors’ support, value their contributions, show gratitude, build relationships, and never underestimate their impact on your mission. Donors sense when you only appreciate them for what they have and what they can give, instead of who they are.


One of the signs of the last days is people will be “ungrateful” (see 2 Tim. 3:1-3). Failing to express gratitude and appreciation for donors’ contributions cuts their motivation to continue supporting your cause. Acknowledging their generosity, providing heartfelt thanks, and demonstrating the impact of their donations are crucial in fostering long-lasting and meaningful donor relationships.

Think About This: The best way to keep these little foxes in check is with two little words: time and love. Spend time with your donors and genuinely love them. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

Response: Lord, please help me cultivate deep relationships with our donors.

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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