Keeping mission vision alive and growing A quarterly publication of Mission Data International

Archive for the ‘Fundraising’ Category

To ask or not to ask: Fundraising strategy

Friday, June 9th, 2006

by Steve Shadrach
Director of Mobilization for the USCWM

After college, I was in a self sufficient “survival mode” stage of life where I dared not ask anyone for anything. My buddy and I lived in a $56 a month ($28 each!) second floor room, sharing a bath with two other rooms. It was so low rent we took a marker and wrote above one door the number “2”, above another door “2B”, and above our door “Not 2B”. Bringing visitors upstairs, I would point to the door numbers, and proudly proclaim, “2B or Not 2B, that is the question!”

The question we ponder today is whether or not Christian workers who raise their support should ask others to invest in them and their ministries. I am puzzled, though, why some Christian workers feel free to ask people to pray, but not to give. Where in the Bible does it say “prayer, good; giving, bad”? If I went into an appointment, laid out my ministry vision, and “the ask” was just to pray, and not to give, I think it would be dishonest — even manipulative. Isn’t it obvious to all parties the missionary needs support to go do their ministry?

In my years in church, I have heard many more sermons on giving than praying. Why would it be acceptable for churches to challenge us to give, but a “no-no” for missionaries to? Are we still living in the 1800’s, still exalting George Mueller as our role model? Mueller technically never asked for a penny, but instead spent the final decades of his life preaching every night to packed out audiences all over the world. He told story after story, all with the same punch line: “And I have never asked anyone for one single penny!” So much money was pouring in he had to give away huge surpluses. Now — unless you have a worldwide pulpit ministry like Mueller — you might want to use him as a model for faith, prayer, or preaching, but not necessarily fundraising. Two passages might help:

We have not because we ask not. James 4:2

Could it be that if we really got in touch with our motives, we would find that a basic fear of asking has colored our theology and our approach? There is a reason the root word “ask” is found 147 times in the New Testament. God wants us to ask Him and others. I believe it takes more faith to pray and ask, then simply to pray.

Where your treasure is, there is your heart also. Matthew 6:21

You may have a different experience, but I have never had someone I sensed was praying for me who chose not to give to me. If they are willing to give to me, they are more likely to pray for me too.

Donors are not mind readers. I heard one of my long time supporters recently tell someone, “Unless the missionary asks me, I assume they don’t need any support.”
Having said all that, once in a blue moon, I seem to hear a small voice say, “Don’t ask right now, just pray and love.” Discerning whether that is God’s voice or my fears is the secret. E

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