Ignoring Fundraising Critics

“Do not pay attention to every word people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you— for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others” Ecclesiastes 7:21-22.

Charles Spurgeon lectured this text to his preaching students with the catchy title, “A Blind Eye and a Deaf Ear.” His application was to not let undue criticism discourage them from doing their work. You can spend a lot of emotional energy trying to please critics when you would be much better off focusing on things that really matter. Critics come in all shapes and sizes and have different motives. Here are four:

Hostile Critics
Nehemiah had his share of critics to deal with. Sanballat mocked him like a middle schooler, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day?” (Neh. 4:2). Tobiah added his zinger, “What they are building—even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!” (Neh. 4:3). Ouch! Nehemiah ignored them and just kept working. Perhaps you have opponents that don’t want you to succeed and criticize everything you do. Use your deaf ear and keep working.

Naïve Critics
When it comes to fundraising, everyone has an idea. A board member shared his sage advice, “What you need to do is find 10,000 people to give us $100.” That might seem like a good strategy and good math because, theoretically, his plan would raise $1 million. However, his plan had two flaws: (1) the campaign goal was $3 million and, (2) the entire town’s population was only 12,000. Campaigns aren’t built from the ground up but from the top-down. All successful campaigns start with leadership gifts to build momentum.

Foolish Critics
Not every critic is an enemy; some are just foolish. Mark Twain remarked, “Never argue with a fool; onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.” Solomon wrote two interesting back-to-back proverbs, “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him” (Prov. 26:4) and “Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes” (Prov. 26:5). So, which is it? Answer a critic or ignore them? The Spirit can give you wisdom for the right response in the right situation.

Friendly Critics
Spurgeon’s message was about turning a deaf ear, not both ears. A wise person listens to a friend offering constructive criticism. “Wounds from a friend can be trusted” (Prov. 27:6). We often react negatively when someone shares something we don’t want to hear. Our natural self wants to save face, but we must learn to receive criticism graciously. Listen carefully. Ask clarifying questions. Thank your friend for their honesty and take time to reflect on what they shared.

Think About This: Solomon’s main argument for ignoring your critics is to remember, “for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others” (Eccl. 7:23). We all need forgiveness for judging others.

Response: Father, please forgive me for the times I’ve criticized others. Help me always speak “only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Eph. 4:29).

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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