How I Overcame a Lifetime of Fear in Fundraising!

Raj Mannar serves as The Navigators City Leader in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. 

Raj Mannar serves as The Navigators City Leader in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. 

Guest Author,  Raj Mannar

Navigator Staff, Canada

Years ago I conducted my first fund raising home appeal in Singapore. Ten friends from my church waited eagerly to hear me. They were not strangers—I knew them all by name. But I was nervous—I’d never asked face-to-face before.

As I walked into the house, everything seemed so dark. The window blinds were down and I felt a strange gloom.

I had not prepared myself by rehearsing or bringing fund raising materials. I felt embarrassed to share my funding need, so instead I told about my upcoming Navigator career as an adventurous missionary in India. I wanted to be a nice missionary guy who was trusting God to support me financially.

When I finished sharing my ‘dazzling vision,’ I half-heartedly referred to my funding, but I did not actually ask. It was then that I felt an even greater darkness settle in the room. Everyone was sympathetic, but I had not prepared them to hear about funding.

And no money came in.

Fast forward a few years later to Canada for another fund raising appeal in a friend's home—except my friends did not know that it was a fund raising visit. I shared my dazzling vision, but this time I made an appeal sitting at the kitchen table with my un-touched cup of tea in front of me.

Silence!

It was dark all over again. Again, I had failed to set it up as a fundraising visit.

I vowed I would never do a home fund raising visit again!

But over the years our funding languished. I was a senior staff and leading an exciting ministry. But my ‘strategy’ of letters and ‘holy hinting’ kept us at only 60% of budget. It was embarrassing.

Fast forward fifteen years. Feeling desperate, I decided to risk face-to-face appeals in homes again. But this time it was different.

  • I had a pledge card.
  • I prepared my talking points.
  • I knew what I was going to ask for.
  • I gave advance notice of my intention to make an appeal.

I made four visits, and all four said yes to monthly support totalling $230! And there was no gloom—mostly because I finally got my act together. I was prepared to do my part!

This was the first time in 35 years that I had such a breakthrough of a psychological barrier.

And I have not stopped with four face-to-face appeals. I continue to visit potential giving partners in their homes, offices or restaurants, and God is continuing to bless my fearful obedience. I actually enjoy Ministry Partner Development!

What made the difference this time compared with my disastrous appeal in Singapore?

  • I was receiving funding coaching.
  • I decided 60% of funding dishonoured God and my family.
  • I prepared.

What would I say to a younger staff? Don't take 35 years to work seriously on your funding. Find a funding coach, prepare well, do your part. God will do His!