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Little by Little Fundraising

“But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land” (Exodus 23:29-30).

Fundraisers live to make things happen right now. A fundraiser’s most thrilling moment is identifying, cultivating, and asking a major donor for a leadership gift to fund an incredible project. Praise God for people he has blessed with significant resources who can give game-changing gifts. As exciting as these moments are, we should be just as thankful for steady progress toward our fundraising goals. As Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land, Moses reminded them success wouldn’t happen overnight. Four truths emerge from this text.

God’s Sovereignty
God had reasons for not conquering the land right away. He is compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love and wanted to give the people living in the land more time to repent (Gen. 15:16). Israel always got into trouble when they were impatient. “But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold” (Psalm 106:13). God has a perfect plan for your donors. He can change hearts and make them “favorably disposed” to generosity (Ex. 12:36). Don’t rush ahead of the Spirit.

God’s Reasons
The Lord didn’t allow Israel to take immediate possession of the land because they weren’t equipped to manage the resources. Why doesn’t God dump millions of dollars in your lap? Would you even know what to do with a $100 million gift? You’re thinking, “Probably not, but I’d like to try.” Not every organization has the leadership, strategic plan, and ability to wisely manage large gifts. Major donors give to trustworthy ministries who have a track record of good stewardship.

God’s Methods
Joshua didn’t conquer the land in his own ability. He was only successful when he followed the Lord’s instructions—think Jericho. When he ignored the plan, he failed—think Ai. God used Israel but he also used his angel (Ex. 23:23), his terror to throw enemy nations into confusion (Ex. 23:27), and even hornets (Ex. 23:28). We take credit for our fundraising efforts, but God uses many tools to accomplish his purposes. Without God’s blessing, we will accomplish nothing of eternal value.

Our Capacity
How can you prepare to manage a multi-million dollar gift? By faithfully caring for the donors God has given you right now. Jesus taught, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” (Luke 16:10-11). If you don’t care for your current donors, why would God give you more?

Think About This: God didn’t drive out Israel’s enemies in a single year, but he did promise to drive them out (Ex. 23:30). Major gifts aren’t instantaneous, but only happen after your donors believe you will make an eternal difference with their gift.

Response: Lord, help me take the next little steps to love my donors and wait for your plans to unfold.

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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