Ministry is a team sport

To avoid schizophrenia, where “ministry” is run separately from “marketing” in your ministry, you must acknowledge the fact that ministry is a team sport.

The leadership is only one part of the team. The staff forms other parts. Volunteers are a part of the team. A development agency may be part of your team. Perhaps most critical of all, the donor is a part of the team.

We are all members of the body of Christ, and certainly your ministry is a significant, distinct component of that body. It follows, then, that your ministry must function by the same processes and within the same parameters as the body as a whole. And denigrating the role of any member of the body is … well, a no-no.

The power of “human relations”

One major MIQ (“most important quality”) among donors involves what we might call a sense of “human relations” — treating the donor like a real human being, with common courtesies, and allowing the donor to feel like a partner in the work instead of simply a money-giver.

Failure in “expressing their thanks and gratitude for your contribution,” for example, was cited by one in five lapsed donors as a reason for lapsing — and more than 35% as a reason for decreasing contributions. (Active donors were even more passionate about gratitude: 36% would stop giving, and 24% would decrease giving if a ministry failed to express thanks.)

The calling of God


It is important that a field representative feel a sense of ‘the calling of God’ into major donor ministry.

If a rep feels led by God into this work, the mission of the organization will tend to stay in sharper focus for him. If a ministry’s representative, for example, believes that God has called him there ‘to help students grow into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ’ (that organization’s mission statement), he will do everything — build relationships, work hard, etc., etc. — with a strong level of commitment and a rather slim chance of being sidetracked.

When face to face with a donor, you have to be able to trust your mission. You have to know it, understand it, and believe it. You have to be committed to it heart and soul. Your heart has to beat with the pulse of that mission.

Then, every interaction with that donor, every conversation — all the way from chit-chat about casual everyday goings-on to the ‘moment of truth’ when you’re asking for a donation — will flow naturally out of, and back to, that mission. If the rep isn’t sold on it, the donor is unlikely to buy into it.


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A winning formula


Those involved in your ministry’s major donor program must remember the ministry’s mission — even as they never forget to raise money for your ministry. Here’s an example.

Chris Cole, 26 years old, had no fundraising background, but she had a passion for the ministry. She was trained as a field rep and began making calls and visits on her own. Within six months, she was raising 40% more than her wage.

Because she was the ministry’s first field rep, there was no significant pool of donors. She had no choice but to make a lot of ‘cold calls,’ contacting prospects out of the blue and asking for the opportunity to get together and talk about the ministry.

She was warned that she would get a lot of no’s before she would ever get a yes — statistically, it was likely that she would be rejected eight times for every one acceptance. Half an hour into her first day at work, she called down the hall: ‘I’m halfway to a yes!’ She had been turned down four times. But she was persistent. She was engaging.

When she got into a relationship with someone, she never forgot the mission — the mission of the organization she was representing, which filled her with joy and energy, and her specific mission as a field representative of that organization: to raise money for the achievement of the organization’s ministry goals. Chris Cole is the kind of field rep you need to build your major donor ministry.


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16 Nov 2017

Keep saying it…

Keep saying it


The practical reality of parachurch fundraising is that various ministries essentially “compete” with each other for a “share of the wallet.”

Donors shift their giving, some deliberately, some unconsciously. Some are loyal, but many are, effectively, comparison shoppers. A ministry must appeal to both groups.

The value of a donor’s gift to the organization — the results achieved, the impact made — must be the consistent focus of the ministry’s communications to the donor. \

True-life stories of people whose lives have been touched and changed by God through the work of the ministry will serve as perhaps the most powerful evidence of the ministry’s effectiveness and the donor’s contributions to it.

What donors are saying…

“It is like watching a kid growing up…. To see something actually working — so it is worthwhile what you have done. It is a pride of ownership, partly. It is something that I contribute to … something that I took a part in. It was part of me that I contributed to them … and they have gone out and been able to touch those people — or do those things that I was interested in and not capable of doing directly myself — in a manner where they can touch people more than I can.”


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Donor Advised Fund

A high-capacity donor can often sell a business or sell real estate with zero taxes so that there is money for him, money for his family, and money for your ministry but absolutely nothing for the tax man.

The Great Commission Foundation’s Donor Advised Fund, for example, is a tool that a donor can use to control his tax bracket — a tool that he can significantly fund in times of high profits, bonuses, a business sale, or some situation that forces his income up — or simply because he wants to have a more structured long-term giving program. This allows the donor to get his deductions up front but make his distributions over time.

There are several tools and techniques that a donor can employ with a business or in creating new businesses.

Sometimes the donor can create a business or spin-off part of an existing business or investment so that the cash flow never comes through his tax stream but instead goes directly into his ministry giving account. This can be accomplished by the use of a company foundation.

The donor can have gifts made from his corporation to his giving account as well as from his personal income.


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