World’s Best Fundraising Boss

So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me” (Ruth 2:8).

One of the biggest fundraising challenges is retaining talent. The average development staff tenure is 24 months. Fundraising can be fast-paced, stressful, frustrating, and exhausting. Some people simply burn out and give up. Staff transition for many reasons, but common complaints are unrealistic expectations, low appreciation, and toxic work environments. People usually quit their boss before they quit their job. How can you foster a healthy atmosphere where your team loves to come to work? Boaz earned his “World’s Best Boss” coffee mug with these six leadership actions:

Lead Spiritually
Every day Boaz greeted his harvesters with, “The Lord be with you” (Ruth 2:4) and his staff responded in kind. As the fundraising leader you should create a healthy spiritual atmosphere. Do you model the fruit of the Sprit: “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23)?

Ask Questions
“Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, ‘Who does that young woman belong to?’” (Ruth 2:5). Boaz didn’t treat his employees as nameless faceless tools to accomplish a job. One absent-minded executive always called his maintenance director “Rod” when his name was Rob. Boaz showed a personal interest in each one to learn their story.

Provide Training
Some onboarding processes are atrocious. We teach people how to swim by throwing them into the deep end of the pool. Boaz gave Ruth specific instructions, “Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women” (Ruth 2:9). Give your team the proper training they need to be successful.

Create Safety
“I have told the men not to lay a hand on you” (Ruth 2:9). It’s sad to hear when Christian ministries have allowed employees to make inappropriate remarks to their female staff members. Paul was clear about avoiding sinful communication, “Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving” (Eph. 5:4).

Show Grace
Boaz instructed his team, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her” (Ruth 2:15-16). Show grace to your new team members as they learn your system and give them quick wins to build their confidence.

Be Kind
Boaz welcomed Ruth to the team by (a) offering her cool water (2:9), (b) inviting her to sit with them at mealtime (2:14), and (c) speaking encouraging words to her. “May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord,” she said. “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants” (Ruth 2:13).

Think About This: Ruth stayed because Boaz specifically asked her to stay. “Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me” (Ruth 2:8). Don’t assume that your staff know how much you appreciate them. Tell them.

Response: Father, help me reflect Christ’s love and kindness to my team.

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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