Lean on Me

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).

Singer-songwriter Bill Withers won a Grammy for “Lean on Me,” his tribute to friendship:

Lean on me, when you’re not strong | And I’ll be your friend | I’ll help you carry on | For it won’t be long | ‘Til I’m gonna need | Somebody to lean on

These lyrics echo Solomon’s teaching “two are better than one.” This is especially true when it comes to fundraising. Fundraising is a difficult job; not everyone understands your challenges and pressures. You need a friend for mutual encouragement. When your friend is down, you can help them up; when you are discouraged, they can lift your spirits. Here are three friends to lean on.

An Inside Friend

Do you have a supportive colleague within your organization? Someone to be your sounding board, who gets your culture, and shares honest feedback. Find someone you trust who understands something about fundraising. You need a friend to listen to your frustrations and faithfully pray for you. You need someone who rejoices when God accomplishes something incredible and mourns when times are tough (see Rom. 12:15). If you are the executive, you need a board member who has your back when you face trials of many kinds.

An Outside Friend

This person knows and loves you and your organization but is one step removed from the palace intrigue. Their greatest value is their unbiased perspective. Outside friends can be your personal mentor, other development professionals, or a fundraising consultant. An outside friend can speak honestly about your situation and offer wisdom because they’ve been in your shoes. Which friend do you have on speed dial?

A Fundraising Friend

The best professional friend is a fundraising friend. This person stands shoulder to shoulder with you in your efforts. Board members make ideal fundraising friends especially when they actively identify, cultivate, and solicit their friends. They can join you on donor calls and share why they believe in your ministry. Perhaps you don’t have a friend with fundraising experience. Find someone who loves your ministry and is willing to learn. Recruit a major donor to introduce you to his or her circle of friends. When major donors get excited about a project, their ask changes from, “Will you give?” to “Will you join me?”
You need all three friends because “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecc. 4:12). We all need somebody to help us carry on. Will you be that somebody to lean on? What fundraising colleague can you encourage this week?

Think About This:
Rudyard Kipling wrote a famous line in his poem, The Winners, “He travels the fastest who travels alone.” You are probably more familiar with the opposite proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” Fundraising isn’t take-the-money-and-run, it’s building long-term relationships with your ministry partners.

Father, please forgive me for trying to succeed in my own strength. Help me find some friends to help us accomplish our goal together.

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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