Spinning Straw into Gold

“Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value” (1 Corinthians 3:12-13 NLT).

One day each believer will stand before the Lord to give an account of what they accomplished in this life for him. Jeremiah reminds us that God’s examination will be thorough, “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve” (Jer. 17:10). This reminder of final accountability should motivate each of us to “make the most of every opportunity” (Eph. 5:16).

Fundraisers make choices every day how to invest their time. Some busy themselves with wood, hay, and straw activities, others focus on gold, silver, and jewels. How can you know the difference?

Wood, Hay, & Straw
The list of fundraising activities is endless: 5k fun runs, galas, golf outings, concerts, auctions, etc. While these events can be fun and create great public awareness, they may not be the highest and best use of your staff and volunteer time. Events can reach many donors at one time but have at least three limitations: (1) an ask from the podium is much less personal, (2) the donor doesn’t have an opportunity to ask questions, and (3) your donor can simply ignore the response envelope.

Gold, Silver & Jewels
The gold standard for fundraising is face to face solicitation. Why do so few ministry leaders ask? It’s friends talking with friends about how your ministry is making an eternal impact. Personal asking has at least three advantages over all other fundraising methods: (1) you can tailor the ask to the donor’s giving interest, (2) you can challenge the donor with a stretch ask amount, and (3) you can follow up with your donor about their gift decision.

Fire
Some don’t ask for fear their donor will be offended and stop giving. Asking tests a donor’s priorities. Will they give to the Lord’s work, or spend it on themselves? Will they focus on temporary things or eternal? God may use the refining fire of asking to purge the dross and reveal your donor’s true heart. “He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness” (Malachi 3:3). Ultimately, asking benefits your donor.

Value
Face to face asking has the highest return on investment of your fundraising time. Take an inventory of your development calendar. Any activity that is not directly helping you prepare for a personal donor meeting, schedule a personal donor meeting, actually have a personal donor meeting, or follow up to your donor meeting is a wood, hay, and straw activity.

Think About This: It’s great when your boss gives you an Attaboy! for going above and beyond. How much more rewarding to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matt. 25:21).

Response: Father, please help me make personal donor visits a high priority of my week. Help me say no to good things, so I can focus on the best things.

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.

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