Upside Down Fundraising

Money doesn’t grow on trees, but it’s a lot like gardening. 

Below are some resources to help those that serve in communities of need have a healthy, Biblically based approach to raising financial support.

Watch the Upside Down Virtual Gathering on the topic of Fundraising facilitated by Lynn Buschman. Lynn and her husband have been in collegiate ministry, raising their support for over twenty years.

During the gathering, a participant asked the following question via Live Chat: "Have you hit a wall where several of your individual donors have "aged" out or passed? What do you do to overcome or replace these donors?"

Lynn's response below is informative and practical for anyone trying to expand their base of support.

  • Ask current  donors to reach out to one or two people on your behalf.  Equip them with talking points, templates, links to your website, etc.. 
  • Ask current donors to provide you with people to reach out to, using their name, as an alternative to the donor making contact.
  • Ask current donors to increase their giving, even slightly  (Some donors are candidates for this, some are not.)
  • Send emails about the need directly to individuals on your mailing list who aren't giving currently.  (This gets back to always be collecting email addresses.)
  • Volunteers are potential new donors. They are already 1) "Doing the work," so make sure to 2) Tell the story, 3) Tell the Need and 4) Invite them to participate. 
  • Look for opportunities to speak, such as mission weeks, Sunday School classes, mission groups at church, and youth camps, expand your network.  Not a quick addition to the giving but can develop over time. 
  • If there are special events/projects coming up for your ministry, raise funds for that by asking those who are not currently contributing.  While one-time, it preserves the money set aside for your salary and engages people who aren't comfortable with an ongoing commitment.
  • Annual giving - provide this as an option in writing and in person.  We put this in the "fine print" of our fall newsletters so people have us in mind for year-end giving.  Then we allocate that on a monthly basis.  There are people who are more comfortable with the flexibility and freedom of a one-time gift.  We find they typically give in future years too - they just didn't want to commit upfront.
  • If your donor base is shifting from an older to a younger one, consider the mechanism through which they can give.  Older people write and mail checks, younger people want PayPal (or something like it, where they can set up and runs automatically each month).

Prepare the barn

Are you ready to receive funds? Here are a few Upside Down Principles to think about:

  • God is in the details

  • Can I look you in the eye?

  • When in doubt, put it in writing

  • Do the right thing—before God, man, and the IRS

The Gardening

We can cultivate, plant seeds, water the seeds, but then we’ve got to trust God for the harvest. Once the harvest comes, we should be grateful!

So what should you do? Consider these six steps:

  1. Do the work (the work God has called you to do)

  2. Tell the story

  3. Tell the need

  4. Invite others to participate

  5. Trust God

  6. Be grateful

Consider these Upside Down Principles for fundraising:

God gives vision and provision.

“God is at work in you to want and to do his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).  Listen first to what God has for you to do.  Read the scriptures on all the places people like Jesus and Paul developed partners.  Then you can do the work, tell the story, tell the need, invite others to partner, and to trust God.

Speak well over the smallest gift.

When Jesus has only five hamburger buns and 2 sardines to feed thousands of people, he stops to thank God for that provision.  He doesn’t disparage what he has been given, no matter how small.

One source, many channels.

Our denomination is not our heavenly father.  Our large partner church is not the only channel, or that one rich provider.  Focusing on one earthly source leads to resentment and idolatry.

Don’t get mad when Uncle Billy doesn’t give you anything.

Sometimes the people you expect to help, don’t.  Focusing on that disappointment doesn’t get you anywhere.  God may have other channels.