Training Fundraising Volunteers

“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9).

Paul encouraged the Philippian believers to follow his example. He taught them through his preaching and writing, but his best sermon was his life. He wanted his disciples to learn from his everyday conversations and watch how he responded to difficult situations. Learning fundraising is similar. You can read great books, watch helpful videos, and attend inspiring workshops but the best training happens in the field with a colleague asking your ministry partners for support. Some people catch fundraising immediately, but most require some coaching. If you are responsible for training your staff or volunteers, consider this 5-step approach:

I do. You watch. We talk.
Learning how to fundraise is like learning how to evangelize. You can memorize all the verses and know the steps of leading someone to Christ but watching someone else share the Gospel will light a fire in your heart. Take your staff and volunteers with you on donor visits. Show them what you say and how you say it. Debrief after each call to hear their impressions.

I do. You help. We talk.
The next step is to include your staff member or volunteer in the donor conversation. Ask your colleague to give their testimony of why they got involved in your ministry. Have them share a current ministry story. As the lead, you can guide the conversation and make the ask. Debrief and ask what they would have done differently.

You do. I help. We talk.
Now things get interesting. Have your team member takes the lead while you assist. They can explain the gift proposal and field any donor questions. You can fill any gaps they might have missed and keep the conversation on track. If they are ready, they ask for the gift. Debrief and share your observations for improvement.

You do. I watch. We talk.
You’ve almost passed the baton. On this donor call, your team member again leads the conversation. Before the meeting map out the conversation to determine outcomes and anticipate any problems. You are there to encourage and pray. Debrief after the meeting. Encourage your team member and guide them as they step out on their own.

You do. Someone else watches.
This is the final step. Assign someone else to accompany your staff member or volunteer on a donor visit. It helps to hear another perspective as you continue to evaluate your team members’ effectiveness. At this point, your staff and volunteers should be equipped to effectively share your mission and vision and boldly ask for a gift.

Fundraising training isn’t “one and done.” There is always something new to learn because raising money is about friendships not formulas. Keep encouraging your team. Keep praying. Keep asking.

Think About This: Fundraising is caught, not taught. If you’re not personally raising money, it’s tough to motivate others. Help your team members get a quick win to build their confidence and enthusiasm.
Response: Father, thank you for my staff and volunteers. I pray for your wisdom to train each one to successfully engage our donors and boldly ask for financial support.

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  Christian Leadership Alliance’s Outcomes magazine.

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