Facing Donor Ministry Challenges in a Challenging Economy – encouraging direction from our BBS president Dale Berkey

Facing Donor Ministry Challenges in a Challenging Economy – encouraging direction from our BBS president Dale Berkey

We know these are challenging times. The economy is difficult, and the financial pressure that many of our donors face (or perceive) is reflected in the pressure that we’re feeling inside our ministries as well.

But let me take a moment to encourage you. God is our source. He is also the donor’s source. “It’s all His!” as we say. We’re not dependent upon Wall Street, nor upon the government. It’s God who provides. In times like these, maybe one of the best “side-effects” is that we’re reminded to turn to Him as our Provider … and thank Him that He’s there for us.

Now is the ideal time to express more gratitude to our donors. If we can call them, send thank-you notes, express more gratitude in receipt letters — whatever we can do to show our gratitude, it will be more appreciated than ever, against the backdrop of hard times.

This is also an important time to demonstrate the impact that the ministry is making in very human terms. Feature testimonies and true stories of lives touched. Include endorsements from personalities and/or “regular everyday people” affirming the work that the ministry is accomplishing. Include stats and reports that quantify the results of the ministry’s efforts — the outcomes of the donor’s investment. If we can highlight more of the “ROI” being achieved, we’ll increase the value that the donor assigns to his/her contributions to the ministry.

Let’s remember to feature the emotional benefits of the donor’s support as well — the satisfaction of knowing you’re making a difference. This kind of “intangible” can have greater-than-ever value in tough economic times.

From a practical standpoint, it’s crucial right now that we keep a clear focus on the basics. Acquiring new donors and reactivating lapsed donors are the keys to health in the coming year and beyond. The best ways to compensate for donors giving smaller gifts, and/or less frequent gifts, are to reactivate lapsed donors and bring on new donors.

A recent survey shows that 29% of Americans, because of the bad economy, will be cutting their giving over the next few months. Our response cannot be one of retreat. We need to be as astute and consistent as possible in communicating with our donors — sharing our gratitude and communicating the vision of the mission to which God has called us to partner with them in it.

Our calling in Christ has not changed. The donor’s calling, as one who ministers through giving, has also not changed. It is simply more of a challenge right now to filter out the “noise” of the media and keep focused on the “prize” (Philippians 3:14). We need to ask God to give us this kind of focus, and help us inspire our donors to keep this kind of focus as well.

BBS & Associates [www.servantheart.com] is, as always, committed to standing alongside you, no matter what, to fulfill your God-given vision. If you have any questions or comments about these suggestions, we’re eager to hear from you. Thanks for the privilege of serving with you!

E. Dale Berkey, Ph.D.


About Gary Coiro

Nonprofit & Church Leader Nonprofit Leader and Consultant since 2004, following 15 years as a pastor. Competencies include board development, fundraising, staff development and management, strategic planning, church work, Bible teaching, and capital campaigns. Currently consulting and serving on the Church Ministries Management Team for a large multi-cultural evangelical church.
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