Long-Standing Donors

“You are those who have stood by me in my trials” (Luke 22:28).

One of the scenes during the Last Supper includes the disciples arguing about who would be the greatest in the kingdom. In response, Jesus taught them one last time about what it means to be a servant. Then he commended them for standing by him through all his trials. Some early followers had turned back because his teaching was too difficult to accept (see John 6:66), but these eleven had faithfully walked with him. Jesus’ words of affirmation seem ironic on the night all of them would scatter. Nevertheless, Jesus shared genuine appreciation for his remaining followers. Consider these ways to honor your donors.

Express Gratitude.

Jesus thanked his disciples for their loyalty. No doubt you have several donors who have supported your organization through challenging times. Have you thanked them recently? By expressing gratitude for their steadfastness, you will strengthen the relationship between your donors and your ministry. Some honor longtime supporters with trophies but receiving gifts is not everyone’s love language. One individual was given a custom-engraved crystal award but didn’t want to fly home with it because it took up too much room in her suitcase.

Challenge Them with a Big Ask.

Jim is a development director who genuinely cares for his donors who aren’t just names on his portfolio, but close friends. Bill and Mary had supported Jim’s ministry faithfully over the years. For one capital campaign, Jim challenged them to consider a $1 million gift. Even though Bill had the financial capacity, he resisted and told Jim, “I hope the fact that we can’t give this gift won’t harm our friendship.” Jim responded, “Bill, nothing could come between us. I am just grateful for the privilege of asking you for a gift of this size. Not everyone has this ability.”

Bill and Mary prayed about the gift. Two weeks later Bill called Jim and said, “Mary and I have been thinking and talking. God has been so good to us and we want to give that gift.” Jim expressed his incredible thankfulness for Bill and Mary’s generosity.

Offer Mutual Support.

Just as your donors have stood by you in difficult times you should encourage them when they’re going through rough waters. Perhaps you can visit them in the hospital, pray with them over a prodigal child, encourage them through a financial crisis, or mourn with them at the graveside of a loved one. As a donor representative you have the unique privilege of accompanying your ministry partners as they walk through dark valleys. By offering a listening ear and demonstrating care, you can build stronger bonds and show you value them beyond their financial contributions.

Several years later, Bill passed away. Jim was the first person Mary called. She sent her private jet to pick up Jim so he could fly to Florida and accompany her as they brought Bill’s body home. She did not ask her sons to accompany her—she asked Jim.

Think About This: When you care for donors experiencing difficult times, they will remember you when you experience difficult times. Whom are you standing by in their time of trial?

Response: Lord, help me honor my donors in genuine ways.

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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