In Growing Givers’ Hearts: Treating Fundraising as Ministry (Jossey-Bass), authors Tom Jeavons and Rebekah Basinger compare and contrast how a faith-based, ministry-focused model of raising resources is very different from a secular approach focused strictly on the bottom line. They concluded that it all boils down to values, because our values determine our activities.
What values do you and your organization embrace? Do your Christian values shape your fundraising, how you measure effectiveness, and what you celebrate?
Here is a list of ten questions to ask yourself and those responsible for fundraising at your organization to see if you are reinforcing God’s values in your efforts.
- Does your interaction with people encourage them to generously engage in God’s work, or is the priority raising maximum dollars no matter what the method?
- Do those involved in fundraising view their roles as shepherds of the stewards of God’s possessions or salespersons to convince people that you are worthy of their money?
- Does your organization rely on prayer support, believing that God the Father is our Provider and that the Holy Spirit influences peoples’ generosity?
- Would a survey of your constituents reveal that “you have helped them grow in their understanding and practice of Christian generosity,” would they say “all you want is their money” or you desire them to become rich toward God?
- Do you use language in your communications that supports this ministry view verses a secular fundraising worldview perspective?
- Does your organization have a board-approved written statement explaining the values that are foundational for integrating your faith and fundraising?
- If a person desires to support another ministry different from yours, is that okay with you? Would your organization support this no competition in the kingdom view?
- Are you transparent with your constituents about the realities of leading a ministry, or is the focus of all communications to spin messages to make you look good to get money?
- When seeking fundraising staff, do you place high value on spiritual maturity? In other words do you look for leaders who understand biblical stewardship and practice Christian generosity?
- Are your activities based on what staff members can control, such as what they communicate and who they visit or are they rooted in what they cannot control, such as how much money is raised?
Generous giving happens when the hearts of believers are aligned with their faith with Christ and they become generous as Christ is generous. So what is our role in all this? Let us reconsider our activities in light of our values! Thinking and acting like Christians in our secular culture is not easy, and it requires faith.
However, we have a tremendous opportunity to bring glory to God by urging His people to lives as faithful and obedient steward leaders. Hopefully, these questions stir you to ensure your ministry to rely on God-honoring practices for encouraging Christian generosity.
Wesley K. Willmer, Ph.D. CCNL serves as Senior Vice President of Advancement at Prison Fellowship Ministries and serves on the CLA Advisory Council providing direction and insights in the area of Resource Development.
If you want to hear more of the current thinking around fundraising, then purchase the CDs from the 2013 CLA National Conference in Anaheim. They are now available for purchase through Dove Enterprises.