“They” want to steal my donors!

This is a recurring theme with mission-workers around the world. When the National Office makes noise about appealing to “your donors,” the hair on the back of your neck stands up.

I’ve been there. The hair on my neck rose up often during my field ministry years.

© The Navigators. Do not use without permission.

© The Navigators. Do not use without permission.

But I have changed my mind—and you should too. Some perspective.

  • Your donors are not your donors. Sure, you recruited them, discipled them and spent hours with them, but all donors are God’s donors. They are not your personal property. They give vertically to the Lord, and He is responsible to honor or bless their generosity—not you. 

  • They will not stop giving. A scarcity mentality says, “There is only so much money ‘out there’ available to the Kingdom,” and if the National Office takes money from “my” donors, there will be less for me. Let’s look at the facts:

    After 15 years in field ministry, I served in the National Office of Navigators. In my role as Development Director here is what I found over several years. 

    • The average gift to a staff averaged $50 per month--$600 per year.

    • When donors gave to national projects in addition to staff, their average gift jumped to $1348 per year—more than double. 

    • The donors did not stop supporting local staff. Sometimes they raised their support of local staff after supporting a national project. 

Anecdotally, many field workers confess they were formerly afraid of the National Office going after their donors but found that these “multi-hit” donors never dropped them and often increased.

Also, if you do a good job of communicating and ministering to your donors one by one, you need not fear them leaving you for greener pastures. 

  • National giving helps the donors. Many donors do not realize that your organization is much bigger and doing much more good work than only your ministry. They told me, “I had no idea Navigators did all that other stuff!” If they support only you, they will have a narrow view.

  • You cannot absorb their giving capacity. Years ago, I was shocked to discover that one of “my” faithful $100 per month donors gave $15,000 to another organization. Hmmm. He had more to give than $100 per month! And he has other ministry interests than me!

Our data shows (other organizations confirm) that most donors do not give more than $500 per month to an individual staff—$6000 per year, or maybe as high as $10,000 per year. As one partner told me, “I do not want to be your ‘sugar daddy’ (only donor).

I was relieved of fundraising pressure the day I found this verse showing that giving and receiving are vertical—not horizontal. The highlighted “I” refers to the Source Of All. Donors give to God. You receive from God.

To the sons of Levi, behold I have given all the tithe in Israel…in return for their service….
— Numbers 18:21

So relax, brethren. Take down the electric fence. Give the National Office your blessing to go after “your” donors.