Training Your Team to Ask

“Like an eagle that stirs up its nest
and hovers over its young,
that spreads its wings to catch them
and carries them aloft” (Deuteronomy 32:11).

Mother eagles have a fascinating method for teaching their offspring to fly. Around 8-11 weeks after the eaglets hatch, she tears up their cozy nest to force her juveniles out of bed. She then flutters over them to show them what to do. The young eagles venture out to the ends of the branches and begin flapping their wings. Finally, they take a leap of faith but when their unsteady wings cause them to fall, their attentive mother will dart underneath at the last moment to save them from a crash landing. Before they can catch their breath, she flies them higher for a second attempt. Eventually, the fledgling gets the hang of it and will spend the next 35 years soaring through life. Her example teaches us four lessons about training new fundraisers.

Stirs up its nest
Some fundraisers spend a lot of time in their cozy offices. Certainly, there are lots of things to do in your office. You have reports to run, brochures to design, donors to research, and important meetings to attend but major donor fundraising happens face to face with your ministry partners. If you are the leader, stir up your team and kick them out of the nest.

Hovers over its young
The mother eagle demonstrates to her young how to fly. The wise executive leads by example. Don’t be like the Pharisees, who “load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them” (Luke 11:46). As the president or executive director of your ministry, you should be a player-coach when it comes to raising money.

Spreads its wings to catch them
Making your first ask can be traumatic for a rookie asker. Don’t send your inexperienced fundraiser to a major donor meeting by themselves. Jesus sent out his disciples in pairs. One could talk while the other one prayed. As the experienced fundraiser, you can swoop in and save the conversation by answering a difficult question, explaining your ministry’s position on a key issue, or making the ask crystal clear.

Carries them aloft
Not every major donor meeting ends with a “yes,” sometimes you fall flat on your face. Fundraising is a journey, not a destination. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “if you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” Don’t allow your team to give up. Give them another opportunity to ask and eventually, they will succeed.

Think About This: What if you’re the experienced fundraiser and your boss is not? Learn how to lead up. Show them by your example how to ask. Set them up for success by inviting them on donor calls and giving them an easy first ask. Build their confidence and pray that God will give them a love for the ministry of fundraising.

Response: Father, give me wisdom to teach others what you’ve taught me about asking. Please give our team new strength to soar high “on wings like eagles” (Isa. 40:31).

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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