Sharper Fundraising

“If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success” (Ecclesiastes 10:10).

Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” Solomon and Abe understood the value of sharp tools. If your ax is dull, it takes much more time and energy to accomplish your task. This principle applies directly to fundraising. You can work hard but success comes to those who have sharpened their skills. Here are five ways to hone your fundraising chops.

Learn on the Job
God called Isaiah to become a prophet, “Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name. He made my mouth like a sharpened sword” (Isa. 49:1-2). Isaiah didn’t go to prophet’s school, God put his words in Isaiah’s mouth. If God has called you to fundraising, he will teach you what to say and how to say it (see Matt. 10:19-20).

Read a Book
Libraries are filled with great fundraising books and articles. Immerse yourself in Scripture so you can encourage donors, “to do good, to be rich in good deeds, to be generous and willing to share” (1 Tim. 6:18). Major Donor Game Plan by Pat McLaughlin shares practical insights from 40 years of fundraising that will encourage you to ask boldly. Henry Nouwen’s classic, The Spirituality of Fundraising, will help you see asking and giving as acts of faith with eternal value.

Take a Class
There are many educational degrees, certificates, and informal workshops available for fundraising. One option to consider is the Certified Christian Nonprofit Leader (CCNL) program from Christian Leadership Alliance. The training covers all aspects of leadership with a third of the required courses focused on fundraising.

Find a Friend
Fundraising is a high pressure job. Praise the Lord if you have a supportive board who actively participates in your fundraising efforts. If you feel alone, you need a fundraising friend with whom you can pray, share ideas, and encourage one another. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another,” (Prov. 27:17). Find a mentor and learn from their fundraising success.

Hire Help
Solomon didn’t have the skilled workers he needed to build the Temple, so he turned to Hiram for help. “So give orders that cedars of Lebanon be cut for me. My men will work with yours, and I will pay you for your men whatever wages you set. You know that we have no one so skilled in felling timber as the Sidonians.” (1 Kings 5:6). Solomon was wise to seek help in areas where he had no experience. Cutting down trees takes wisdom, skill, and insights that only come from experience. If you’ve never asked for money, hire an expert who can show you how to ask. It’s money well spent that will yield lasting results.

Think About This: Asking is a skill you learn by doing. Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. Sharpen your message by rehearsing your presentation with a friend or in a small group.

Response: Lord, please sharpen my fundraising skills. Make me “useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work” (2 Tim. 2:21).

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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