Avoid Surprises

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation. Because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think about you.”
– John Wooden

“Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.”
1 Peter 3:10

I was looking for a part-time job to supplement my church planter income. Back then, the “want ad” section of the newspaper was where one could find employment. I saw an ad which read, “Work as much or as little as you want. Set your own hours. Represent major brand companies like Litton, Proctor & Gamble, Sears…” and the list went on with well known companies. Call 123-456-7890. I made the call and the person insisted that he come and talk with me face to face about the employment opportunity. We set an evening when he would come by the house and explain what the job entailed.

When I went to the door, a well dressed man was standing with a tripod, 3×4 foot whiteboard, and a large briefcase. I immediately knew what he was selling… Amway. When I asked about how representing the brand names was part of the multi-level marketing plan to sell soap and cleaning supplies, he said that I had access to purchase these products at a discount for myself when I signed up. I felt deceived. I was expecting to learn about being a manufacturing representative and instead I was presented with a multi-level marketing opportunity.

Relationships are built on trust. When the foundation of fundraising is relational, the last thing you want to do is deceive the potential donor. If your friendship is genuine with the donor, you do not want to use the friendship to get a gift or employ a bait-and-switch method when you are with the donor. The way to avoid this is being clear when scheduling the meeting. Communicate to the donor, with their permission, you want to present to them a project for their consideration. Let the donor know you are seeking their involvement. Even if there is not an existing relationship, it is still advisable when calling to schedule the visit, to let the potential donor know you want to talk with them about a charitable gift opportunity. If they say no, you have saved your time and theirs. If they say yes, everyone knows this time you are going to make an ask. The donor can be mentally prepared for your conversation and have thought about how and if they want to be involved.

I have always thought that pride, greed, and deceit are the root of all other sins. When these enter a donor relationship, the relationship is doomed. Nothing will turn off a donor more than a fundraiser who thinks highly of themselves, projects an attitude of wanting more, and comes across as untrustworthy. Humility, generosity, and integrity always gain respect and increase the potential of a gift. One might say these three positive characteristics make fundraising a God-honoring and noble profession.

Your character begins to show when scheduling the visit. I found that it is the most difficult part of the fundraising process. Jerold Panas says, “Eight-five percent of getting the gift is setting up the visit.” Being honest and transparent is crucial in setting up the call. Integrity is the glue of a genuine positive relationship and an important character quality in fundraising. Trust and respect are essential in receiving a gift. When integrity, trust, and respect are broken, charitable gifts will cease. And it all begins with scheduling the call with integrity and transparency.

About the Author: Jules Glanzer served as a pastor and church planter for 25 years, a seminary dean at George Fox University, and the college president at Tabor College. While at Tabor, God used his efforts to raise more than $53 million with no gift over $2 million. Jules serves as an adjunct professor, mentor, senior consultant with the Timothy Group, and recently authored Money. Money. Money. Actions for Effective Fundraising.

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