There Are Two Things You Should Never Joke About—#2: Fundraising

Flippancy about fundraising is never a good substitute for sincerity.

 

by Dan Busby and John Pearson

 

Board members, are you committed personally
to this journey for yourselves, seeking to be faithful stewards
whose hearts are rich toward God?
You are the model for your communities. Generosity in giving
to your organization starts with you. Others will support your work
as they see you giving generously and joyfully. [1]

R. Scott Rodin
 

 

During an informal session with emerging young leaders, Olan Hendrix, the founding president of ECFA, cautioned that there are some things you should never joke about. 

Board members, and often new board members, bring into the boardroom a wide range of views and opinions about fundraising and generosity, and frequently those beliefs are not biblical. Plus, not all board members are effective fundraisers. That sometimes skews them toward an unhealthy fundraising approach or board policy.

Sometimes a board member’s inferiority complex, or lack of experience—or bad experience—about fundraising prompts your board to default to inappropriate or even unbiblical practices. So heed this wisdom from Olan Hendrix.

Olan Hendrix on Why You Should Never Joke About Fundraising:

The raising of money is very serious business—very serious ministry—and we must treat it so.

I once accompanied a client on a donor call. This Christian leader had a worthwhile cause and many friends, but wasn’t raising any money. I wanted to find out why.

After exchanging pleasantries with the donor, he began making jokes about the fact that he was there to ask for money. I had discovered his problem! Perhaps he was covering up his nervousness about asking for money, but flippancy is never a good substitute for sincerity.

God’s own design for advancing the Kingdom includes the proper asking of funds. We never apologize for the Gospel or the Ten Commandments—nor should we apologize when we ask believers to be generous with their financial resources.

Fundraising is ministry, even though the world generally sees it as begging. We often adopt that thinking to our detriment. I want a part of my legacy to be that I helped God’s servants to see fundraising not as something to joke about or apologize for, but as a noble and vital part of ministry.[2]

If your board members need training and encouragement in generosity and fundraising, give them the short novelette by R. Scott Rodin, The Third Conversion. He quotes Martin Luther: “There are three conversions necessary to every man; the head, the heart and the purse.”[3] Rodin adds this on creating a culture of giving:

Organizations as well as individuals are embarked on a journey of faith and faithfulness. For an organization, this journey is influenced primarily by its culture. And ministry leaders are culture keepers. They are tasked to define reality, articulate values, and exhibit consistent behaviors that become the cultural moorings of the organization. When organizations define their reality in kingdom terms, articulate their values in alignment with biblical, holistic stewardship, and exhibit behaviors that indicate their commitment to the journey of the faithful steward, they engender a culture of giving.[4]

 

BOARDROOM LESSON
_______________________________

Not every board member is a skilled fundraiser— and that’s okay. Yet every
board member can hold high the serious ministry of raising Kingdom resources.
Is fundraising, like prayer, treated with importance and seriousness in your boardroom? Are your values in alignment with biblical values on generosity and stewardship?
 

  Board Action Steps:

  1. Read: Ask a board member to read and report on The Third Conversion by R. Scott Rodin.

  2. Study: To compare your values against Kingdom values, study The Sower: Redefining the Ministry of Raising Kingdom Resources by R. Scott Rodin and Gary G. Hoag.[5]

  3. Equip: According to Unleashing Your Board’s Potential: Comprehensive Report from ECFA’s Nonprofit Governance Survey, although 86 percent of boards expect board members to encourage others to give, less than 32 percent of those organizations have equipped and trained board members in fundraising.[6]
     

 

Prayer

Lord, don’t let my perceived lack of confidence in fundraising
get in the way of the biblical generosity journey
You want me to share with others. Amen.
 

 

 


[1] R. Scott Rodin, The Third Conversion: A Novelette (Colbert, WA: Kingdom Life, 2011), 89–90.

[2] Olan Hendrix, “Two Things Boards Should Never Joke About.” Reprinted with permission from CMA Management Monthly, published by Christian Management Association, now Christian Leadership Alliance (May 1999).

[3] Rodin, The Third Conversion, 86.

[4] Ibid., 97-98.

[5] R. Scott Rodin and Gary G. Hoag, The Sower: Redefining the Ministry of Raising Kingdom Resources (Winchester, VA: ECFAPress, 2016). 

[6] Warren Bird, Unleashing Your Board’s Potential: Comprehensive Report from ECFA’s Nonprofit Governance Survey (Winchester, VA: ECFAPress, 2019). Visit https://www.ecfa.org/Surveys.aspx.
 


From More Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom: Effectiveness, Excellence, Elephants!, 2019, www.ECFA.org/KnowledgeCenter.


This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.

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