There is much to be gained from the fundraiser’s point of view in approaching our work as a calling. So what’s holding us back? As I’ve talked with people about the challenges of pursuing fundraising as a ministry, the following are the three major roadblocks to fundraising as ministry that have shown up in virtually ever conversation:
Competence versus Commitment
There is a commonly held bias that professional competency and fervent faith are not compatible. When organizational leaders buy into this myth, they are fearful of straying from the way things have always been done and are suspicious of spiritualizing what they see as secular work. The fundraiser’s challenge is go give witness to the fact that when there is a true integration of faith and work, the work is as solid and as honorable as the faith. It’s not an either/or matter.
Unreceptive Organizational Culture
In an unreceptive organizational culture it’s assumed that a ministry-centered approach will limit an organization’s ability to reach into new donor markets. Organizational leaders must never underestimate the importance of being true to what the ministry was founded to be. It’s the mission and vision of organizations that lead people to work and give on behalf of worthy causes. These are what connect with donors’ hearts.
Tyranny of the Bottom Line
All too often, fundraisers are handed a goal that has little connection to reality and told to make it happen. The surest way to avoid this trap is good organizational planning. An invitation to e part of “a long obedience in the same direction” is far more winsome way to describing an organization’s priorities than are frenzied pleas for help in meeting this year’s budget.
The roadblocks are real, but God’s help and the encouragement of colleagues who share our commitment to growing hearts of givers, we can overcome them all. This is confidence that comes in knowing we are called to work at hand.
Rebekah Basinger is an independent consultant for board development and fundraising, working primarily with theological schools and other faith-based nonprofits. This is an excerpt from her article in Becoming a Steward Leader (CLA 2012).