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What have you done for me lately?

Short term, long term


Sure, our ministry goals are worthy. Our cause, Christ’s Kingdom, is the greatest. Our dedication to the cause is commendable. 

But sometimes — maybe most of the time — we tend to blast past the donor.  

We’ve got her gift; now move on. 

We fail to express to the donor how deeply grateful we are for her action, her sacrifice.  

In many cases, this failure is honest — because in fact, we’re not grateful. We’ve developed hardening of the arteries. 

The repercussions are both practical and spiritual: 

  • On the practical side, we increase the risk of losing that donor.
    We are very likely shortening the lifespan of our relationship with her. 
  • On the spiritual side, we are falling short of God’s ideal. 

Scripture doesn’t simply challenge us to feel gratitude, but to express gratitude.  

Paul the apostle focused on this. He expressed gratitude to the Philippians, the Colossians, the Thessalonians, to Timothy and Philemon. 

With the Corinthians, he observed how gratitude becomes the happy side-effect of generosity. 

“This service that you perform,” he wrote in what might be called a “collection letter” to the Christians at Corinth, “is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God” (2 Corinthians 9:12). 

We believe that some components of a ministry’s marketing strategy should be designed to express gratitude for results achieved rather than to break even or make a “profit.” 

Gratitude can be regarded as an investment. 

Many ministries take a compartmentalized view of their work — requiring each and every function of the operation (each email or mailing, each product, each event) to meet some kind of return-on-investment standard. 

As we do this, we are accidentally busting a principle which Jesus taught in a parable — one of His most curious: the one about the “shrewd steward,” recorded in Luke 16:1-13. 

In this story Jesus salutes the conniving manager of a business — and for what? Reforming? No. For conniving! 

Jesus actually made the conniver into the hero of the story because he was wily enough to take losses in the short term if it meant achieving gains in the long term. 

The spiritually shrewd ministry manager of today understands that sowing and reaping occur in seasons, not just “immediately.” 

A wise investment of gratitude today pays off in a valuable donor relationship over the next year — or decade. 

When I think about my donors, what timeline do I have in mind? How far past the next appeal am I thinking? For help with long-term donor relationships, reach out to BBS & Associates.