We have a unique opportunity to partner with people in areas of their passion. In our culture, money is often a taboo topic, yet as fundraisers it is something we talk about often. Where we give or do not give our money often says a lot about us and what we believe in. In conversations with donors I’ve often heard, “I wish I could give more.” I’ve had donors tell me, with sadness in their face, that they are not in a place to give. These are opportunities to bless a person by helping them understand the difference they have and are already making in your organization. This is the essence of pastoral work, talking with someone about building life direction and leaving a legacy. We can come alongside donors to encourage them as they accomplish their heartfelt goals.
I’ve been reading Ask Without Fear by Marc Pitman, great book with some quick and easy tips on fundraising– I’ll write a bit more of a review in a future post. I’m not sure he would share my theory that development work is like pastoring, but he had a story that I think still illustrates my point. Marc speaks of an experience when he went on a solicitation call to an individual that had previously been very generous to his organization. When he asked for the individual, the wife came to speak with him instead and he learned that the day before the husband had died.
“This is one of those sacred moments we get as fundraisers. I stayed with this widow for three hours, hearing about their life together, the trips they had recently taken, seeing her pottery kiln, listening about her kids. I was able to minister in a way that few others could have.”
I’m not making a claim that pastors are like development officers, only that there are some similarities in the way we work with people. What do you think? Have you ever had these kinds of conversations with donors?