Handling Donor Secrets

The prophet asked, “What did they see in your palace?” “They saw everything in my palace,” Hezekiah said. “There is nothing among my treasures that I did not show them” (Isaiah 39:4).

King Hezekiah cried out to the Lord from his death bed and God gave him fifteen more years to live (see Isa. 38:5). News of his miraculous recovery spread throughout the region. Marduk-Baladan son of Baladan king of Babylon sent a gift and a “I’m-glad-you’re-feeling-better” card. Hezekiah was so grateful to be alive he welcomed the diplomats with a grand tour of his palace. He opened every closet door and revealed all “the silver, the gold, the spices, the fine olive oil—his entire armory and everything found among his treasures” (Isa. 38:2). When Isaiah heard what Hezekiah had done, he scolded him for giving his enemies the combination to the safe. As a fundraiser, how do you handle personal financial information a ministry partner shares with you?

An elderly major donor shared with a ministry representative, “My husband established several trusts before he died. My accountant tells me they are worth literally millions of dollars.” The recently widowed can be overwhelmed with all the new financial decisions facing them and need a listening ear. They have placed their trust in you; you must act with their interests in mind. Proceed with care.

Hezekiah foolishly shared Israel’s national secrets with people who didn’t have his best interests at heart. Don’t walk out of a major donor meeting and tell everyone, “Do you know how much John is worth?” Solomon taught, “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret” (Prov. 11:13). Don’t jeopardize your relationships by disclosing personal information.

You should care for your ministry partners just as a pastor cares for his church members. Peter gave these instructions, “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve” (1 Pet. 5:2). Are you watching over, caring for, and serving your donors, or are you looking out for yourself?

Babylon came knocking because they wanted what was behind door number one. Just because you know what a person could give, doesn’t mean they should give that amount. Your responsibility is to ask boldly and let the Holy Spirit work. “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion” (2 Cor. 9:7). Fundraisers should never resort to manipulation or arm-twisting.
Satan can tempt you with your major donor’s personal financial information. Covetousness can easily creep into your heart when you compare your life to theirs. “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have” (Heb. 13:5). Paul’s remedy for greed is contentment, “but godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6). Focus more on your spiritual walk than your net worth.

Think About This: Knowing inside donor information shouldn’t prevent you from asking. Boldly ask and let your donors prayerfully consider in their hearts what they should give.

Response: Father, please help me put my ministry partners’ interests above ours.

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 At the Center magazine and Christian Leadership Alliance’s Outcomes magazine.

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