Fund-Raising Tips

Are you passionate about a particular cause? Do you want to make a difference in the world? Then you could use some money. It’s commendable to have a vision for a better future but without provision not a lot happens. But asking for money is not for the faint-hearted. It’s never an easy exercise.

Over the years I have helped to raise a lot of money. Millions of dollars to be exact. Money for local community work, buildings and facilities, and overseas aid. The more money you raise the greater the potential impact can be.

My Top Ten Fund-Raising Tips

1. Have a compelling cause. People need an inspiring vision to give towards. They need to know why they should give and what outcome their generosity will achieve. Without a sense of urgency about the need, it will be difficult to motivate people to give. Engage all the key influencers in creating and agreeing to this cause. Work to create as much ownership as you can. That way you will have solid base of support before you even start.

Of course, it is vital that you believe in the project you are presenting to other people. You need to know deep inside that it is worthwhile and that it will make a difference in the lives of people. In fact, you need to believe in it enough to invest your own personal resources into it. Lead by example in your own generous giving.

A project name or tagline can be helpful. We called the first building project I led “Building Our Future”. It was all about making more space for each ministry of the church. This included expanding the auditorium, the foyer, the children’s rooms and the cafe. A later project we called “The Story Building Project.” Buildings don’t change peoples lives but what happens in them can and does. We were making room for more stories of transformation to take place. Another fundraiser we conducted had the stated purpose of starting one hundred new churches overseas. Be creative in how you present your fundraising project. Make sure it comes across as inspiring as possible.  

2. Choose an achievable financial target. Make it a stretch goal but not an unattainable goal one that will only discourage people. Most churches or organisations can raise an amount equal to one to two times their annual income over a one to two year period. It is better to under-project and then over-perform. Don’t set the bar too high only to have everyone feel like they failed in their fundraising efforts.

3. Break the financial target down into achievable steps. Create bite size chunks so that each person can see how they can make a helpful contribution. For instance, a million dollars can seem like an insurmountable amount of money. I can feel beyond reach in the average person’s mind. Yet, if 500 people gave $19.24 a week for two years, then you would raise over a million dollars. Some may not be able to give this much while others could give much more. This sort of breakdown makes it doable. It is amazing what a group of people can do together when they rally around a common goal.

4. Teach people how to give. Present creative ideas for where the funds could come from. For instance, people can give of what they already have set aside in savings. Or they can earn more money and give from the profits. I know of a single mother who rented out a bedroom. A teenager mowed lawns to raise money to give towards a worthwhile cause.

People could sell some of their assets. I know of a person who sold a block of land and gave the proceeds to a worthy cause. Fundraising provides an opportunity for people to consider sharing what they have with others. People can have a garage sale or put some unwanted items up for sale online. I know a pastor who sold his boat and gave the proceeds to his church’s building fund. Another idea is to go without something. By reducing expenses, a person can then give some or all those funds

5. Share stories along the way. Stories inspire people. Celebrate the wins. We don’t give to get but often when people do give, God blesses their lives. Share these stories as encouragement for people to keep giving in faith.

6. Keep reinforcing the vision. Don’t over-vision people. But make sure they hear the why behind what you are doing enough to keep the momentum going. After the initial launch of the project, it is easy to become caught up in the details of the project. Keep helping people focus on the long-term results the project will achieve.

7. Keep people informed with the progress made. Accurate and up-to-date information is important. Inform people of the progress made during the fundraising journey. 

8. Make adjustments along the way. We make our plans but rarely does everything go exactly to plan. Observe the process. Listen to people’s thoughts and feelings, then make any needed adjustments. That might be to the process itself, the strategy you are using or even the end target.

9. Right-size your expectations. It is good to have faith and optimism. But we need to partner these important qualities with wisdom and reality thinking. Aim for the best you can but work with what you have. Placing your expectations too high sets you and others up for disappointment. 

10. Celebrate what you acheive and give thanks to everyone involved. Small wins and achievements matter. Every dollar counts and makes a difference. Be grateful for every person who gives and every amount of money that comes in. That’s good news, whatever way you look at it.

I’ve read books about fund-raising. I’ve attending training sessions on how to increase giving. I’ve talked to successful fund-raisers about their experience. In the end, you learn most by doing. Go ahead and ask for money for the cause you are passionate about. Some people will say ‘no’. But others will say ‘yes’. Your invitation provides them an opportunity to do something meaningful with their resources.

All the best with your fund-raising!

These tips are from one section in an appendix on the subject of fund-raising in my recently released book Money Talks: Finding Financial Freedom. You can purchase this book now from WORD in Australia or from Amazon.com.au in eBook format (or visit the USA Amazon site).

Last week I participated in a webinar with Steven Fogg from Generous on the subject of “How to Create a Culture of Generous Givers in Your Church”. If you missed it, you can watch it online now. I am sure you will find it helpful if you are a minister or church leader.

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