Preparing a Tasty Gift

“Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die” (Genesis 27:4).

Isaac asked his oldest son Esau to go hunting and prepare his favorite meal so he could bless him. Rebekah overheard Isaac’s intentions and schemed with Jacob to trick Isaac and steal Esau’s blessing. This epic scene teaches five fundraising principles:

Prepare what your donor likes
Isaac had a taste for wild game and loved Esau because he was an outdoorsman extraordinaire (Gen. 25:27). Evidently, in addition to his hunting prowess, he was also a master griller. Do you know your donors’ tastes? What motivates them to give? What would inspire them to give more? If you haven’t listened well, you might present the wrong opportunity. If your donor is a huge sports fan, he or she might not be enthusiastic about a new fine arts building. Learn their favorite meal and keep serving it.

Ask for help
Rebekah loved Jacob and helped him prepare the meal. Jacob spent time in the tents and probably was a decent cook, but no one cooks like mom. The best donor research is asking a family member or close friend what your donor likes and how much might they give. Not every relative will reveal this information because they would rather enjoy the inheritance themselves. Those with a giving heart can help you craft the perfect ask to accomplish the donor’s giving priorities.

Always be truthful
Isaac’s eyesight was failing but he still had his sense of smell, touch, and hearing. So, Rebekah had to make Jacob feel and smell like Esau. She dressed him in Esau’s clothes and put goatskins on his hands and neck. Deception has no place in your fundraising plan. Present your ministry with integrity. If you don’t have the capacity or desire to fulfill your donor’s intentions for their gift, try to convince your donor to align their gift with your plan, or graciously turn it down.

Realize others are also cooking
Esau took his time finding, dressing, and grilling his wild game, not realizing that he was racing against Rebekah and Jacob. Your nonprofit is competing with multitudes of other great projects vying for your donor’s attention. When you have a need that matches your donor’s interest, gather all the information you think they need and go ask. Don’t delay. If you don’t ask, another ministry will.

Don’t miss out
When Esau finally presented his meal, he and Isaac realized what had happened. Esau was distraught and begged his father for a blessing but there was nothing left. “Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done” (Heb. 12:17). Esau’s rejection is a stark reminder of how important it is to proactively identify, cultivate, and solicit your donors while you still have an opportunity.

Think About This: Important conversations often happen during meals. Restaurants aren’t the best place to ask because there are so many distractions. Instead, ask at your donor’s kitchen table.

Response: Father, please give me insight to present the right project to the right person.

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 At the Center magazine and Christian Leadership Alliance’s Outcomes magazine.

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