How I Overcame a Lifetime of Fear in Fundraising!
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.
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!