Why you shouldn't share goals in fundraising

Why you shouldn't share goals in fundraising

I made a rookie mistake during my first donor visit a few weeks ago.  I announced, proudly and out loud, what our conference goal was.

finish-lineTo me, it seemed like a no-brainer.  People what to know what you are trying to accomplish.  They want to see the finish line and know how far we have to go.  It seemed to me like folks would want to know that we had done some thoughtful work and had a direction, purpose, and plan.

But evidently, that was a mistake.

You see, as soon as someone hears a number, they start doing mental math.  They start calculating how many people are involved and divide the goal by that number to figure out their piece of the pie.

I knew that was true in the local church as we set out to figure the budget each year.  Rather than starting with the gifts that God has given you and what you are then called to give, people look at the bottom line, and how many people are in the church in order to figure out their share and what they need to pay to make ministry happen.

I’m definitely NOT saying that’s the way it should be.  But if we just give people numbers, that is where they act from.

In the local church, we started presenting narrative budgets where we talked about the ministry that could be accomplished and asked folks to help give to support our work… we tried to “hide” the bottom line – because in reality it is not about meeting our budget, but about doing the work that God wants us to do.

In this work of fundraising, that is what we need to do as well.  It’s not that the goal isn’t important, because it is… but the goal isn’t everything.  Our job is to do the work of God and it’s going to take more than just ‘x’ number of dollars to do it.  If we present the vision, the passion, the stories and then invite people to give as God leads them, the bottom line should hopefully take care of itself.  And the goal we have set might be exceeded beyond our wildest expectations.

After all – God can do more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20)


  • ttennheat

    January 11, 2013 at 12:09 pm Reply

    Do people react the same when the goal is to save a million lives vs a dollar amount or do people just multiply lives by $10?

    • Katie Z.

      January 11, 2013 at 12:40 pm Reply

      to be honest, I’m not sure! We have tried to talk more about the lives that we want to save here in Iowa.

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