Passing the Fundraising Baton

“Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. ‘Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?’ he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over” (2 Kings 2:13-14).

Elijah was an ordinary man who through the power of fervent prayer accomplished extraordinary things for God (see James 5:17,18). Through Elijah’s prayer, God brought drought on Israel and then rain, provided food for a widow and her son, and raised her son from the dead. Perhaps Elijah’s greatest answered prayer occurred on Mount Carmel when he called down fire from heaven and defeated the prophets of Baal (see 1 Kings 18). Who could ever fill Elijah’s sandals?

Sometimes ministries struggle when the executive or even the top fundraiser leaves. Board members panic with reactions like, “Who could ever lead this ministry like the founder?” or “Who can raise money like he or she could?” Consider these three succession planning thoughts.

A Successor
After Elijah’s incredible victory on Mount Carmel, he fell into deep depression claiming he was the only person left in Israel who feared God. The Lord responded in a gentle whisper and led him to Elisha who became his protégé. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s a blessing when nonprofits plan a smooth leadership transition. Develop a mentoring mindset. Identify someone on your team who could fill your position someday. Include your protégé in every fundraising strategy—especially introducing them to your major donors.

Side By Side
On his way to Elijah’s chariot of fire appointment, he told Elisha three times to stay while he kept walking. Three times Elisha responded, “I will not leave you” (2 Kings 2:1-6). Elisha learned how to be a prophet by walking side by side with Elijah. Fundraising is mostly on the job training learned by spending time with another fundraiser. You can read a book, watch a video, or attend a seminar, but you learn best by doing. Take your apprentice on a donor visit and show them how to ask for a gift.

A Double Portion
Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit (2 Kings 2:9). That was a bold ask but Elijah responded that God would grant his request if Elisha saw Elijah when he was taken up. As the fiery chariot whisked Elijah to heaven, his cloak fell to the ground. Elisha picked it up, struck the Jordan River, and walked across dry ground into his new prophetic ministry. Elijah performed sixteen miracles throughout his life; Elisha performed thirty-two. Elisha’s miracles not only doubled Elijah’s but seemed to multiply them.

Your ministry doesn’t have to suffer just because your leader retires or your top fundraiser leaves. God has prepared a new leader who could potentially take your ministry to heights far beyond what your previous leadership could have ever imagined.

Response: Lord, help me pour into my team so that when you move me on, this ministry continues to thrive.

Think About This: Elijah was known for fervent prayer, for what will you be remembered?

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