Shifting Fundraising Mindset
We recently had Emily Fitchpatrick on The Ministry Growth Show and the insight she shared in the EPISODE provided some really valuable direction on a couple of topics that every ministry, no matter how successful, are looking to improve upon. Emily started her career in the ministry space working for the Billy Graham Association. She’s worked in ministry for 15 years and started the first home for sex trafficked girls in the United States called On Eagles Wings. Emily grew the organization from an idea to a staff of 14 and a $1.5 million yearly budget. Emily now serves ministries as a consultant and coach guiding non-profits through her consultancy, Flagship Equip. In the episode, our conversation centered around fundraising and marketing and today I’ll be following up and expanding on the discussions we had on shifting fundraising mindset.
Fundraising is oftentimes viewed as a dirty and entirely separate piece to ministry work. I know that I have personally viewed fundraising in the same way. Early on in ministry, my pride wanted to do ministry on my own, and I still struggle with that mindset to this day. It’s something that I constantly have to lay before the Lord, but as I do fundraising becomes easier and my mindset around fundraising changes and moves in the right direction. If you are a ministry leader who struggles with fundraising mindset, there are a ton of great resources to help change your mindset. The God Ask and The Giver and the Gift have been some of my favorites most recently.
Emily’s mindset around fundraising has been particularly helpful. She encourages ministry leaders to view fundraising as an integrated piece of the ministry that’s as important as the actual work you’re doing. The work you do and the fundraising to finance that work should be viewed as one and the same. One is not more important than the other, because you can not have one without the other. It’s easy to view fundraising as a separate and necessary evil, but we should view fundraising as an opportunity to glorify God, share what He’s done through our ministry, and invite people into partnership with the work He is doing through our organizations. In the same way that God has invited us into the redemption of humanity story, we get to invite people into partnership in the work God is doing through our ministries and the ultimate impact and expansion of His Kingdom. One of the things Emily says in the episode that I think was particularly powerful was, “We have this calling and mandate and we’re coming (to potential donors) with an invitation into something that is building the Kingdom.” When we shift our mindset in this direction, we can begin to see how much more enjoyable fundraising can be. We get to boast and give glory to God by telling the stories of how He is moving through our organizations. It’s a shift in our fundraising mindset from coming as a beggar to an invitation into a partnership in God’s Kingdom work.
“It’s a shift in mindset from a beggar to an invitation into a partnership in God’s Kingdom work.”
As we make this mindset shift, it’s important to remember that not everyone is going to give. Just because God is moving through our organizations, for a variety of reasons not everyone we share our stories with is going to enter into a partnership. Emily goes on to talk about a passage in Exodus 25, where God tells Moses to raise a contribution for the tabernacle. In that passage, God tells Moses, “You are to take my offering from everyone who is willing to give (Exodus 25:2 – CSB).” It’s important to notice that God is not saying that everyone will give, but rather those whose hearts are moved to give. As we go about our fundraising efforts, let’s shift our mindset from beggar to a mindset of invitation and a heart to share and give glory to God for what He is doing through our ministries.
Emily goes on to talk about the alternative option that she sees most common in the ministry space. She says that a lot of ministry leaders want to sit and pray that God would just bring in the funds, and they often quote Hudson Taylor and George Mueller’s approach to fundraising. I don’t have time to go into this in detail in this article, but THIS is a great article done by John Piper and Desiring God on the topic. In rebuttal to Hudson and Mueller’s approach, which were both clear calls by God on their individual lives and ministries, Emily says, “… we would miss out on the beauty and relationships that we build in fundraising, and that’s a big part of what fundraising is all about.” God has created us to function in community. As a relational God, He wants a relationship with us, He wants us in relationship with others, and fundraising is a great opportunity to build relationships with people centered around the work God is doing through our organizations. “If you’re not out sharing about your ministry, sharing the stories of how God is working through your organization, then you’re going to miss out on the opportunity to share how God is functioning and working in your ministry, and that will leave a lot of glory that we can bring God on the table.”
Now, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t pray. God is going to be the one that moves in the hearts of your donors and ultimately provision comes from Him, but we absolutely need to be praying, asking, and pleading with Him to move in and through our organizations, both in our fundraising efforts and in the work that our ministry does. Pray always, that’s a given.
Fundraising doesn’t have to be a separate and necessary evil for our ministry. This episode was powerful and encouraging for me because it helped to continue the move in my shifting fundraising mindset. Fundraising can be an exciting opportunity to share how God is working through our ministries. If fundraising is still a daunting and overwhelming task and you need help with a mindset shift, or if you want guidance on strategies and best fundraising practices, Emily and her team at Flagship Equip are incredible and can most definitely help out.