Unsolicited Fundraising Advice?

© The Navigators. Do not use without permission.

© The Navigators. Do not use without permission.

Have you heard of William Thompson, AKA Lord Kelvin? He was a brilliant thermodynamics scientist who in 1848 discovered the temperature at which molecules get so cold that they refuse to move. Lord Kelvin calculated that temperature as Absolute Zero—minus 273.15 degrees Celsius or minus 459.67 degrees Fahrenheit. 

 A smart guy! But being smart in one area does not qualify for being smart in other areas. Kelvin also said, “I can state flatly that heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” *


Similarly, in fundraising, perhaps you have heard smart people “state flatly:”

  • Face-to-face fundraising won’t work!

  • Full funding is impossible for most cultures—learn to live with less!

  • If you don’t come from a white, Evangelical background, you’ll never be fully funded!

  • Raising personal support is going the way of the dinosaur—Business as Mission (BAM) is what donors prefer!

  • Donors won’t support administrative workers!

Though sincerely given, the advice of these “fundraising experts” comes often from their own opinion or their own bad experience. I have talked with many gospel-workers who were immobilized because they listened to bad fundraising advice.

How to deal with “expert” fundraising opinions? Ask yourself four questions:

  1. From whom is the advice coming? Often, it is from family members or friends trying to protect you from a “foolish mistake.”

  2. Do your advisors have your best interests in mind?

  3. Do your advisors know what they are talking about? Beyond thermodynamics, Lord Kelvin did not!

  4. What is your calling?

Who are you listening to? “[King Rehoboam] forsook the counsel of the elders…and consulted with the young men who grew up with him….” (1 Kings 12:8). His peer-advisors urged him to be even harder on the laborers than Solomon. It broke Israel in half.

When I receive advice that spares me from taking risks—as in fundraising or evangelism—I get an immediate sense of “peace.” Ahhh. It feels right. But is it God’s peace or merely my relief that I don’t have to take a risk?

Yes, in the “multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 24:6), but not all advice is from the Lord. Return to your calling. Did you think there would be no difficulties along the way?

A young Zambian gospel-worker was given advice by a friend (Mr. X) whom she thought would be a stalwart giving-partner. But he said:

Mr. X: “Did you go to university for four years just to put your degree on a shelf? Has God called you to wallow in poverty as a missionary? You are a making a huge mistake; come back to your senses before it’s too late.”

Miss Z: My entire body went limp. This was a man I looked up to. As a church elder, he spent much time talking to people about Jesus, especially his co-workers. Then he added:

Mr X: “Why can’t you just get a real job!”

Miss Z: I finally recovered my senses and replied, "Sir, it is not I but God who called me to become a missionary. All I did was respond to His calling, and am glad I did because it has made my walk with Christ more real. This is a real job, and it demands my full undivided commitment."

-Miss Z, a new missionary

May we respond to “experts” as Miss Z did! Let us take our marching orders from the Lord and His word. 

*Walter Williams, Economics professor at George Mason University, Editorial in Colorado Springs Gazette.