Development Success…


What does development success depend on? A number of principles, but perhaps most importantly a certain three.

1. First and foremost, following the call of God. What has God called you to do? What is your organization’s mission? Your entire team — including the “development people” — must share a passion for that mission. You need a team of people with one heart.

2. It’s also crucial that your ministry be committed to operating on biblical principles: integrity, fairness, paying bills on time, and a refusal to over-extend credit in the name of doing more for God. The finances are available to do all that God is calling you to do as you work in accordance with these principles of Scripture. (It’s wise, too, to establish a public image of moderation without sacrificing quality — rather than the extreme of either lavishness or poverty.)

3. Third, it’s important to properly understand the development process, which includes investing enough capital in people, in training, to succeed, and then committing to the process so it has time to work.

These three fundamentals sound simple enough, yet in many ministries we find that only the first — responding to the call of God to some specific service or ministry in His name — is alive and well.


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Stewards of God-given resources


Albert Einstein said that compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world.

Money makes money — and the money that money makes makes money. The sooner money is invested, the longer it has to compound; and in later years, an amazing synergy takes place, causing the assets to swell.

This same concept applies to our work as stewards of God-given resources.

When we invest as much as we can into the Kingdom as we go through life, people are reached with the Gospel. These people should also go out and invest money in ministry, and also share the Gospel themselves, and create spiritual offspring who can do likewise.

How about the people who planted the seed of the Gospel in the lives of our great evangelists?

Someone was supporting a pastor or evangelist who led these people to the Lord. What a harvest has followed their investment!

There was a shoe salesman living above the shoe store who invested his life and shared the Gospel with D.L. Moody. What spiritual compounding has been credited to his heavenly account?


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Friends share information


If you want to build a relationship with your donors (a must if you want to keep your donors), you need to build the components of a friendship into your communications with your donors.

One of these components is information.

Friends tell each other things! While emotion is crucial to your request for help, it cannot stand alone.

Emotion must be balanced with information. You must share the facts of the situation with which you want the donor to become involved.

Also, you must relay important information about your ministry: what it is doing, how and where and when and why and with whom.

The fuzzier you are in communicating the facts about what will be accomplished with the money the donor sends you, the leerier the donor will be about sending you money in the first place.


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05 Jan 2017

Get personal…

Get personal


Our research indicated that any personal connection strengthens the relationship with the donor. Ministries involving personal sponsorship of a child, a missionary, a staff member, or some other human being have a distinct advantage here.

Without the personal connection, donors are likelier to express a sense of “distance” from the organization, perhaps even the feeling that it’s “purely a money relationship.” So a handwritten note, a heartfelt thank-you letter, a phone call expressing appreciation — particularly a warm “welcome call” to a first-time donor or (perhaps even better) a second-time donor — can make a significant difference.

You might also call a donor when she gives her largest single gift, just to say thanks. Or arrange to place an annual call to every donor, or as many calls as are feasible, expressing gratitude and perhaps sharing a brief testimony reflecting the impact of the donor’s giving — but without any hint of a request for another contribution.


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A God-given need to give


Development workers are opportunity brokers. We connect people who have a passion for ministry and the capacity to fund that work with a ministry worthy of their partnership.

This is not trickery or manipulation; far from it. People have a God-given need to give.

God made us this way.

So why should we feel uneasy about making face-to-face presentations of our ministry’s need and opportunities for someone to be involved financially?

Development workers need to see donors as people, to enjoy them as people, to let trust and true friendship grow. A donor ideally will connect to you as a friend and a partner in ministry, not just as a sort of flesh-and-blood ATM, a money source for your organization.


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The biggest gift


Recognize a donor when she gives her largest gift — whether it’s large or not. (If this isn’t possible, at least recognize largest single gifts that are 20% or more above a donor’s previous highest gift amount.)

For this donor, this increase in giving represents a step up in the relationship.

While many ministries make a habit of asking donors for gifts equal to or greater than their largest-ever gift, a letter or thank-you acknowledging the increase is vitally important to the longevity of the relationship.

One of the bitterest responses from donors in our research was related to a ministry’s practice of offering a “gift array” — a menu of gift amounts — on the reply card of a mailing with the donor’s largest-ever gift as the lowest amount shown.

Annoyed by the implied assumption, this donor deliberately stopped giving to that organization.

So as a practical matter and as a courtesy to donors, we recommend basing suggestions for specific gift amounts on a donor’s average gift, not the donor’s largest single gift. (Calculate a donor’s average after dropping out that giver’s single highest-ever and single lowest-ever contributions.)


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