Running on Faith
[December's Mission of the Month is faith-based fundraising. Following is an exceprt from a special section on fundraising for faith-based organizations that we ran a while back. Look for more excerpts from the special report in upcoming posts.]
Faith is a powerful thing. It can heal and build, protect, empower, and carry on, no matter how dire the circumstances.
But perhaps the thing that faith does best, the thing it does as a precursor to all of the above, is motivate. It motivates people to do the things that lead to healing and to building, to protection, empowerment and perseverance, even when all seems lost. Faith doesn’t move mountains, but the faithful do.
And that is a very important distinction for faith-based organizations — nonprofits whose missions hinge on a belief in the Higher Power and the need for people to do good works in his/her/its name. If faith alone could build a house, feed a family, save a child or pay the electric bill at a parish church, there would be no need for organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Food for the Poor, God’s Love We Deliver, YMCA and YMHA to devote any time or effort to development. My pastor wouldn’t have to pass the basket on Sunday mornings, and many of the fundaisers reading this wouldn’t have jobs.
Certain factors — scandals that shake the sector to its core; a “separation of church and state” mentality that chokes important funding sources, for example — might have lead some organizations to downplay their “God connection” in the past. But the success of films such as The Passion of the Christ and books such as The Purpose-Driven Life and even those ubiquitous “What Would Jesus Do” bracelets are evidence that America is ready to embrace its spirituality again.
The consensus seems to be that while it’s imperative for faith-based organizations to practice the best, most aggressive development techniques used by their more secular colleagues, it’s equally important for them to play to their unique strengths, which are rooted in the fact that many people see giving as a matter of faith, a matter of goodliness, a matter of godliness.
And these people can be reached and motivated on a much deeper level than less spiritually oriented donors.
Just as it takes little blue-haired ladies to run bake sales at my church to fund a new floor for the narthex, it takes donors of all levels to fund missions of all bents and campaigns of all sizes. It’s not often you see a major-gift check signed by God. But with the right mission, impeccable stewardship and an abiding respect for your donors’ beliefs, you might find that faith can, indeed, move mountains.