Author: Steve Steele
Category: Resource Mobilization
It has always been interesting to me that in Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus never said when you get resources granted to you, go and make disciples of all nations but rather gave us a command in those verses saying “Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
If we believe that the Bible is true (which I do) and we believe that God owns it all since Jesus said He has all authority in heaven and on earth, then the question is more what roles are each of us to play in the Great Commission command in my opinion.
When we talk about fund raising or even just money in general, it seems the lines often get fuzzy at best. I have seen throughout the years errors on both sides (donors and ministries) and also seen many wonderful examples of a relationship between donor and ministry that produced incredible results for the Kingdom of God.
In my opinion, the difference has come down to communication and managing expectations. It is wrong for donors to feel that they should tell ministries what they have to do if they want money just as much as it is wrong for a ministry to imply they are the spiritual ones so just give them the money and get out of the way.
We all have different gifts and callings, but we are all on the same team trying to get the Great Commission completed. Even with that nice warm statement, conflicts can still arise. Conflicts can occur if a ministry projects outcomes that are not even close to being realistic or takes credit for work done by others. They can also occur if a donor tries to micro manage a ministry with a dollar gift.
Neither the donor, nor the ministry is the power or the authority in getting the Great Commission completed. That honor belongs to Jesus. We get to be the messengers of the good news, but we are not the Good News, Jesus is.
We need to understand and accept that not every ministry and every donor are good fits for each other. Since God is the one who supplies for our needs, from a ministry perspective, we need to find those donors who God has already put a similar burden on their heart as the calling on our hearts and create a good connection. From a donor perspective we need to also find ministries that focus on the areas we are called to be involved in and not try to change a ministry through the leverage of a gift.
I have seen relationships between donors over the last 30 years that have produced incredible fruit from a Kingdom perspective. It was not always about big numbers but it is always about how any project or program is moving us closer to that command from Christ in Matthew 28. The more a ministry can articulate that kind of impact, the more excited I have seen donors become.
The fruit of this kind of relationship can easily be seen in subsequent years, when it is the donors often asking the ministry how they can help and be involved more in the ministry. The donor can sometimes become the best cheerleader for the ministry to other donors.
Most donors don’t care about plaques or recognition. They have the gift of giving and want to use that gift to see the best impact possible for the Kingdom. The more a ministry can communicate to their donors how their gifts (regardless of size of outcomes) were a good Kingdom investment leading towards what we understand the completion of the Great Commission to be, the better relationship they will have with the donor.
Sometimes, a ministry should be willing to walk away from a grant if it is not the right fit for their ministry. I know it is hard to turn down money at times, but it is critical if accepting that money has so many strings attached that it takes a ministry away from its core competencies and focus.
Most donors hopefully realize that they have more to offer than just money. We believe that donors have knowledge, contacts and information that might be even more helpful to a ministry than money. Even if saying no to a ministry grant request, donors can try to possibly help with knowledge, contacts or other information if a ministry wants that help.
Everyone has a role to play. Some will link many ministries with many donors. Some projects will link with just a few donors. The key in my opinion is to seek the right balance of which donors and which ministries connect best together (through prayer and ongoing communication). When this happens, great things occur for the Kingdom, God gets all the Glory and we move one step closer to the completion of the Great Commission.