02 Jan Fundraising Fruitfulness
“I will answer him and care for him… your fruitfulness comes from me” (Hosea 14:8).
In fundraising, you can work hard, you can even work smart, but you won’t accomplish what God wants you to accomplish without his power. Jesus taught, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). That’s a sobering comment. We think if we only work harder, longer, or smarter we will eventually achieve success. But the reality is apart from Christ you will accomplish nothing of eternal value. Sure, you might go through the motions and appear to have worldly success, but all your efforts will still add up to a big, fat zero. Let’s apply Jesus’ formula for fruitfulness to our fundraising efforts.
True Christians bear fruit. John the Baptist proclaimed, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8). If a person doesn’t change on the outside when they trust Christ, they must ask themselves if they really changed on the inside. According to John 15:2, branches that don’t bear fruit are cut off. You can apply several metrics to gauge fundraising success, but the bottom line is, “do you raise money?” If not, perhaps it’s time for a change.
A little fruit is better than no fruit (see John 15:2b). It takes time to produce fruit just as it takes time to cultivate relationships with your donors. Luke records the parable of a man looking for fruit on his fig tree and not finding any. He was ready to cut it down and plant something else, but his servant asked for one more year to cultivate and fertilize it. “If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down” (Luke 13:9). Give your staff time to be effective.
The goal of your vineyard is not to grow leaves but to grow grapes. You must prune the new shoots, so they don’t suck the life out of the vine. Pruning creates a strong root system, improves the health of the vine and most importantly, increases the yield. Likewise, your development efforts might look lush and green but not raise a lot of money. If you want more fruit, you must cut any activity not directly related to identifying, cultivating, and asking donors.
Remaining in Christ produces much fruit (John 15:5). To remain means to stay, abide, live, to live in union. Jesus is saying, “Live like you are at home with me.” Is Jesus at home in your fundraising department? Do you invite him into your strategic planning process or is he an afterthought? Do you ask him to help you identify potential donors? Do you pray fervent or feeble fundraising prayers? Fervent prayer is key to your fundraising success. Consider amping up your fundraising prayer effort. Start today by praying for each donor who contributed last month.
Think about this: If you spent more time in prayer for your fundraising efforts than implementing your strategies, would you have greater results?
Response: Lord, forgive me for working like it all depends on me and not praying as though it all depends upon you.
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.