Transformative Donor Relationships
For those of you who have dedicated yourselves to ministry over the years, it is evident that God has graciously granted each of us a remarkable opportunity to advance his kingdom through our service. If you are currently in development, as I am, take comfort in knowing that God has specifically chosen you and me to cultivate and sustain lasting relationships with treasured donor partners, all for his divine purpose.
It is as we read in Philippians 1:5-6, "Because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
At Joni and Friends our donor partners are a true representation of Christian supporters that each of you already serve in your area of ministry work. They exhibit obedience in fulfilling the Great Commission by sharing the gospel, casting his light, and spreading the hope of Jesus to individuals who do not yet know their place in the body of Christ.
Focus daily by committing to strengthening relationships with your donors. Make it a pursuit that truly honors Christ. The support that motivates will fill the spiritual and practical needs of those we are blessed to serve in our respective organizations.
Three Elements Leading to Transformation
These three elements are key to building transformative donor relationships.
Donor partners desire for their contributions to hold purpose.
Are you grateful to the donor for their commitment, guided by God? Donor partners desire for their contributions to hold purpose. They often seek divine guidance to allocate resources where they align with his plan. Prompt and appropriate appreciation reinforces the significance of their gift, assuring its vital role in fulfilling the mission. Donors should be free from concern about their contribution reaching its intended purpose.
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:16-18)
Report on Impact
It is crucial to communicate to the donor how their transformative contribution has addressed a significant need. Share the impact of their gift through a personal story about an individual they have assisted or will aid in the future. Inquire about the motivations behind their generous donation, and honor and reaffirm those reasons. Frequently, we hear from our donor partners that their gift belongs to the spiritual realm. That reflects this passage from Acts:
"All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need." (Acts 4:32-25)
Interact with Integrity and Honesty
Maintain transparency and honesty in all your interactions with donors. Engage with them in authentic life-sharing experiences—celebrating, praying, and mourning together—while consistently nurturing the relationship beyond financial discussions. This approach affirms to the donor that you value them as more than just a source of funds. Remember the wisdom of 1 Corinthians 3:6, "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow."
Recognize that each donor partner arrives at your ministry through a unique path.
Recognize that each donor partner arrives at your ministry through a unique path. Often, they support multiple ministries, emphasizing your team's responsibility to leave a lasting positive impression of both the ministry and your role as their representative.
Encouraging Generous Giving
Here are some additional ideas for encouraging generous giving.
- Cultivate strong relationships anchored in the teachings of Jesus. Express gratitude to each donor promptly and sincerely, utilizing personal interactions, phone calls, and peer-to-peer connections. Your appreciation can never be excessive.
- Offer updates on the tangible impact of their contribution. Assure the donors that their support has met essential needs and that the lives they have touched will experience blessings and positive change in alignment with his purpose.
- Explore your donors’ interests and motivations for giving, reinforcing the unity of their support with their convictions.
- Nurture a connection with donors beyond financial requests, making yourself available for shared prayers and supporting each other's burdens.
- Consistently offer updates on their gift, demonstrating the ministry's careful stewardship of their investment.
- Communicate the ministry's future direction, outlining growth areas and recognizing unmet needs. Propose these opportunities and request the donor's involvement based on their passions and preferences.
- Remind yourself that you are a faithful servant even on discouraging days, and that God is pleased with your efforts.
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy.” (Eph. 2:4)
With more than 25 years of experience serving people in the nonprofit sector, and honoring the memory of her sister, Anne, who was born with spina bifida, Cathy Allgood, CCNL, serves as Senior Development Officer at Joni and Friends. She is a Credentialed Christian Nonprofit Leader (CCNL) with Christian Leadership Alliance, and can be reached at email@example.com.
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