15 Dec One Size Does Not Fit All
“Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. ‘I cannot go in these,’ he said to Saul, ‘because I am not used to them.’ So he took them off” (1 Samuel 17:38-39).
David heard Goliath cursing the Lord and volunteered for the fight of his life. Saul thought he was too inexperience, but after David shared his resume (1 Samuel 17:34-37) that included killing a lion and a bear, Saul agreed to let him try. David didn’t arrive dressed for battle, so Saul outfitted him with his own tunic, coat of armor, helmet, and sword—but it was too heavy and restricting. David took it off and decided to face Goliath with his sling and five smooth stones. You know the rest of the story. David’s strategy teaches us four important fundraising lessons.
1. Don’t mimic another organization’s strategy. King Saul thought his approach was the best for David. Many ministries base their fundraising plan on what another ministry does. While you can learn lessons from others, you have a different constituency, a different fundraising budget, unique strengths and weaknesses, and a different team with different capacities. Just because something works for XYZ ministry doesn’t mean it will work for you. Don’t pursue a particular fundraising event or strategy simply because other non-profit organizations are doing it.
2. Stick with what works. David’s lion and bear experiences were great preparation to fight Goliath mano a mano. Personal face-to-face fundraising is the most effective strategy for every ministry. Learn to identify, cultivate, and solicit your key donors one-on-one. It’s easy to get distracted with the latest fundraising fad, but you cannot replace personal solicitation. As you hone your asking skills on lions and bears, God will prepare you for your Goliath.
3. Pray and be courageous. David is a great example of courageous faith. He wasn’t relying on his human effort; he was relying on God. “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty” (1 Samuel 17:45). Fundraising isn’t a fight with your donors, but it’s a spiritual battle with your fears that can only be won with prayer and courageous faith. Be brave and ask.
4. Use new tools when helpful. After David had struck the Philistine with the stone, he showed Goliath the end of his sword he wasn’t used to seeing. Innovate and learn new strategies. Some new fundraising methods can be effective, just don’t abandon the proven strategy of personal asking.
Response: Father, forgive me for attempting some other organization’s fundraising strategy and not trusting you to help us conquer our Goliaths.
Think About This: David didn’t take on Goliath in his first battle; he started with a lion and then a bear. What smaller gifts could you solicit this week to increase your courage for the big ask?
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.