I think I’m supposed to launch this!
I hear this phrase hundreds of times each year from excited change makers over a hot black coffee, in coaching sessions or on a zoom call. Whenever someone utters this I feel two things simultaneously; excited and sad. Most of those ideas are amazing. They’re laced with possibility, driven by obedience and pregnant with the potential to change the world. But there’s one problem; most of them will fade into oblivion.
As a Leadership Coach I’m the perfect target for these ideas. I help hungry leaders turn ideas into realities. But even the best ideas in the heart of passionate leaders often fade away, because something is missing; financial sustainability.
With gig work at full steam everyone seems to have a side hustle. Or five. There are great opportunities for making supplementary income everywhere, but they also create a level of distraction that can take our eyes off the main thing. Amidst the possibilities of the modern economy we are in danger of abandoning an age-old method for sustaining ministries and sacred causes; fundraising.
While fundraising certainly isn’t dead it need a serious update. The world has changed drastically, yet, for many, fundraising remains the same. Fundraising methods from yesteryear are dying quickly, and we must find new ways to reach new people to support new ideas.
Here are three crucial fundraising updates we must make…
Patrons over partners. The word “partner” has a cheap and plastic tone to it in fundraising circles. Perhaps a different word can be more helpful here; patron. The Apostle Paul had patrons like the Macedonians throughout his ministry (2 Corinthians 8). Jesus did too. Some of the most prolific works of the Renaissance were funded by patrons. The book Gospel patrons gives a compelling look at how many kingdom leaders in centuries past had patrons funding both them and their valuable work. We can’t simply recycle an old word while viewing fundraising as transactional. We must view financial supports as valuable stewards of the ministries God entrusts, not simply a means to an end. Instead of simply seeking to “hit up” financial partners we must invite patrons to support both us and the dream God has entrusted to us in valuable ways.
Links over letters. I’m sorry, but an email blast or a letter (that will sit on my counter next to bills and junk mail) is not engaging. I can’t believe fundraising letters are still the industry standard for those raising support! The site Patreon challenges us to “Change the way art is valued”. Kickstarter has helped tens of thousands of ideas to become realities. I love the work of Storehouse ( LINK storehouse.world) , a site bringing the best of Patreon and Kickstarter together to help create revenue streams for greater kingdom impact. At Stay Forth we utilize this to help at-risk leaders receive leadership coaching and replenishing experiences. These online platforms enable interaction and communication with financial backers. They are also faster. People are busy, and when they want to give we must respect their time by texting or emailing a link quickly where they can give immediately. They can see both the essence and the details of who we are and the work we’re doing. These sites are both high-touch and high speed.
Relationships over transactions. We have the ability (and I would argue the responsibility) to serve partners and patrons in high-touch ways in this season. Getting together face-to-face is great, but will be rare. In our global world we must utilize technology for high-touch solutions. Craft updates on your fundraising page and text them out. Send a few quick video update in real time from an event with exciting fruit. Utilize Marco Polo to talk back and forth about how the ministry is utilizing their financial gift. Use voice memos to ask for prayer going into your next event or meeting. Post and share weekly YouTube videos providing updates to partners and patrons. Thank your patrons on your podcast by name. The possibilities are endless, and we have no excuse to move from a transactional posture to a relational posture.
If we are raising funds we have the responsibility to give out methods a serious update. God has entrusted exciting work to us, but we must match this with innovation for today’s world.
Founder, Trailblazing Leadership Coach
Alan is a mountain guide for the leadership journey. He loves outdoor adventures, but the greatest adventure of his being a father and husband. Alan is crazy about helping hungry leaders conquer overwhelm and navigate with courage. He serves leaders and organizations around the country through coaching, speaking, consulting, designing experiences, hosting mastermind groups, writing his own books and ghostwriting for others. He co-hosts Right Side up Leadership Podcast and regularly writes for Outreach and Field Notes .