03 Oct Fundraising – Better Than a Poke in the Eye!
King Nahash of Ammon laid siege to the town of Jabesh in Gilead. City officials tried negotiating, however, his brutal peace terms demanded poking out the right eye of every man in the city—not a preferred outcome. So, the people of Jabesh turned to their neighbors in Gibeah for help. Everyone was lamenting the desperate situation when Saul arrived from working in the fields. As they shared the bad news, the Spirit of God filled Saul with righteous anger, and he rallied all Israel to defend their kinsmen from this enemy. This troubling Old Testament account gives us four essential components of every successful fundraising effort.
Israel’s situation is very similar to the needs of those you serve. Their enemy wanted to destroy their vision. Your enemy has “blinded the eyes of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel” (2 Cor. 4:4). Everything you do helps people see Jesus more clearly, whether you lift the homeless, comfort the hurting, come alongside single moms, or educate the next generation. You want people to see God’s plan for their lives. Fundraising provides the resources to solve eye problems.
The Holy Spirit used this crisis to spur Saul into action and “The Spirit of God came powerfully upon him” (1 Sam. 11:6). Secular nonprofit organizations rely on human ability to solve human needs. Your ministry should be different, “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). It’s so easy to list all the reasons why your problems can’t be solved. Instead, look with the eyes of faith and trust God to give you power to accomplish the impossible.
Saul didn’t wait around for someone else to solve the problem. He took a pair of oxen, cut them into pieces, and sent messengers throughout Israel saying, “This is what will be done to the oxen of everyone who does not follow Saul and Samuel” (1 Sam. 11:7). Threatening people is not a fundraising best practice, but helping people understand the urgency of the situation is. People need to know why their involvement is critical right now.
Saul’s motivational message worked, “Then the terror of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out as one” (1 Sam 11:7). The fear of the Lord is a great motivator. Saul mustered 330,000 soldiers overnight. You can’t solve your problems by yourself, you need to motivate others. Your challenge is to clearly communicate why the need is so great, in what ways your solution meets those needs, and how your donors can make a difference.
Response: Father, may your Spirit help us bring sight to those who are spiritually blind.
Think About This: When the people in Jabesh heard that Saul was on his way to rescue them, they were overjoyed (see 1 Sam. 11:9). Don’t avoid fundraising like a poke in the eye. Approach it with enthusiasm! Look at it through the eyes of those you serve and rejoice that your ministry has changed lives for eternity.
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.