Meaningful Engagements

“I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me” (Romans 16:1-2).

Paul mentions 33 people in Romans 16. These were close ministry partners to whom Paul shared specific words of encouragement moving them forward in their faith. He asked them to welcome and help Phoebe because she had blessed many people, including him. Notice the positive words Paul used to describe his friends: “co-workers” (v. 3), “risked their lives” (v. 3), “worked very hard” (v. 6, 12), “outstanding” (v. 7), “my dear friend” (v. 8, 9), “who has been a mother to me” (v. 13).  Paul’s goal was to spur these friends on “to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).

How can you spur your team on to be more successful? How do you measure the effectiveness of those in your organization who have donor relations responsibilities? Certainly, the bottom line is how much money they raise monthly. Other metrics could include how many written gift proposals they have presented. Some organizations track how many phone calls, texts, emails, and thank you cards are sent each month. While all these items indicate activity, they don’t necessarily monitor productivity.

One way to combine all these steps leading to a gift is to track “meaningful engagements.” A meaningful engagement is an action where the development officer moves the donor closer to aligning his/her interests and passions with your ministry. Meaningful engagements can include cultivation, solicitation, stewardship, or some combination.

Meaningful engagements can be face-to-face, in an email exchange, or over the phone. Here are three guidelines:

• Be an active listener. Ask good questions that reveal your donor’s heart. How are they connected to your ministry? What specific aspect of your ministry motivates them to give?

• Draw the donor closer. In what ways can you engage your donor to participate in your ministry? Involved people become generous people.

• Create a pro-active plan. To clarify, simply emailing a donor, talking on the phone, or being at an event with a donor does not constitute a meaningful engagement. A meaningful engagement is your specific action step that brings the donor closer to your ministry.

The men and women Paul mentioned weren’t just casual acquaintances; they had made a significant contribution to Paul’s life and ministry. He, in turn, desired to move them even closer to Christ. Your relationships with your ministry partners must move forward toward a gift, or your efforts will merely devolve into a social encounter.

Response: Lord, help me understand how I can encourage my ministry partners to grow in the grace of giving and move closer to our mission.

Think about this: You know when you have had a meaningful engagement with a donor, and you know when you haven’t. Focus on activities that matter.

Have a Spirit-led fundraising week,


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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