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5 Ways to Adapt Fund-Raising in 2010

February 10, 2010

this picture is meant to be understood ironically

It’s still hard out there for those of us who raise funds for ministry. This is definitely a sink-or-swim time.

What worked in the ‘90s or the early ‘00s won’t work now. We need to adapt to the financial environment. Even if you believe “the money’s still out there” and “God owns the cattle on a thousand hills”–both true, of course–unemployment and general belt-tightening is at least the perception-that-has-become-reality in the minds of our donors/potential donors.

While I grant that we’re not in the same position as other non-profit fields, we can certainly learn from what they’re going through and how they’re adapting. The Chronicle of Higher Ed posted a piece today on how bleak the outlook is for those in academia. For example, Dartmouth just commenced layoffs/downsizing in light of a $100 million budget gap. While most of us in ministry–at least me–aren’t anywhere near those figures, we should pay attention to the response.

Here’s 5 ways I’m reconfiguring my support-raising strategy:

1) Go BIG for new donors. Pitch a big vision, and a big dream, to bigger, higher capacity donors. How do you find them? Ask your 10 biggest donors for 3-5 names. This means tightening up your vision & plans.

2) Don’t prioritize the “new small.” Simply put, getting the $100 one-time can be too costly in terms of opportunity-cost. Unless that’s all you need to get over the hump.

3) Maintain your base. Work hard at communicating with and cultivating your current donors.

4) Look for increases from within your base. Who knows you best? Who has a track record for faithful giving? Who cares about your ministry? That’s right, your current donors. Focus on the top 10-20 people who could increase their giving. Many of them know that fellow givers are struggling, and should be well-acquainted with your need. The advantage with existing donors is that you don’t have to invest near as much time building relationship and credibility.

5) Don’t shy away from networking & cultivating new contacts. When you’re not looking for donors, someone else is.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 17, 2010 9:04 pm

    thanks for this! helpful tips as i raise support.

    • February 18, 2010 10:43 am

      You’re welcome! Glad you found it helpful! Where are you located, what ministry do you work with?

  2. February 18, 2010 2:12 pm

    I work in Orange County with the Epic Movement (, serving Asian American college students there. I am in the process of raising my initial support and am a little more than halfway there, so this was a good reminder.

    I also really appreciated your earlier suggestions about including a monthly calendar/ schedule for my supporters. That was huge.

    praying for your support!


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