Putting Prayer in Its Place
One of the most profound and meaningful gifts you can give to a donor is the gift of prayer.
Not the boilerplate promise of prayer tucked into the text of an appeal letter — but real, live prayer.
For years, we have encouraged ministries to make arrangements to call their donors periodically for no other purpose than to inquire about their needs and pray with them and for them right then and there, on the phone.
This suggestion has been met with a considerable array of responses … everything from “You’ve got to be kidding!” to “Why didn’t we think of this before?”
Some ministries have grown out of certain religious traditions that do not emphasize personal, one-on-one, vocalized prayer; they are more oriented to silent prayer or corporate prayer. So we sympathize with the discomfort of some ministry personnel in the matter of praying for donors over the phone.
But we have seen the enormous power of a personal phone call, with no appeal — just a word of encouragement and an offer to pray with the donor about their needs. It is the power to strengthen the faith of that donor.
- And because we have seen donors’ lives profoundly touched by such a gift, we are eager to see more ministries establish such a program.
- Moreover, donors who have received such a call frequently embrace the ministry with more passion (this is why we call such a program “prayer bonding”), and this often has the happy side-effect of increasing their lifetime giving to the work.
(Even in the case of a ministry growing out of a religious tradition which does not emphasize personal, vocalized prayer, we would like to see an attempt at prayer bonding in which the caller only offers to pray for the donor’s needs at some later time — perhaps even specifying the specific date and time at which prayer will be offered.)
The leaders of some ministries decline to engage in any prayer-related communication with donors because they want to avoid the appearance of “selling prayer.”
This is a valid concern. The offer to pray for a donor must be heartfelt and sincere. It cannot be a thinly veiled fundraising strategy. It has to be the function of a ministry dedicated to the spiritual health and life of the people who empower the work through their giving.
(If the donor actually has the feeling that you’re “selling prayer” — if even the honest, friendly offer to “pray for you” is interpreted as a marketing scheme — it may be that your donors see you only as a merchandiser. You may need a major realignment of your relationship with them.)
One way to ensure pure motives: Commit to praying for your donors regardless of their giving record.