Grab the Elephant: 3 Critical Components of Successful Support Raising


Before we get into this really amazing post, I (Jenn Fortner), just want to say how thankful I am to Pastor Chris for agreeing to challenge us with his wisdom in the area of ministry partnership development. You guys!! This post is full of practical wisdom straight from a guy that truly knows the ins and outs of raising funds biblically. Unfortunately, we have to do a little bit to hide his identity for security reasons, so I can’t say much about who Pastor Chris is. However I can tell you what an honor it is to have our friend writing a guest post with hopefully more to come! Enjoy! – JF

*Once upon a time there were 3 blind men in India.  Each man was asked to go up to an elephant and then give a description of the elephant.

The first blind man puts his arms around the leg and realized the elephant was sturdy and strong.  He came back and reported – “An elephant is like a tree.”

The second blind man found himself behind the elephant and grabbed the tail.  He returned and said, “An elephant is very much like a rope.”

The third blind man approached the front of the animal and reached up and felt the flapping large ear.   He turned and exclaimed, “An elephant is like a large fan!”

The morale of the story is that each man is correct.  But he is only partially correct which makes him dangerously wrong.  Each man was feeling only a part of the animal and therefore missed the BIG picture of what an elephant really is.  In fund raising when I listen to missionaries I hear that many have only a part of what it means to raise financial support in the Kingdom of God.  Over many years I have discovered that there are 3 critical components to be a good fundraiser and to maintain good partnerships over the long haul.  If you have one or two of these principles in operation you may succeed but it will likely be a struggle.  When you have all three in operation in your life and ministry you will find fund raising to be enjoyable and meaningful.

#1 – Your Spiritual Relationship to money

Do you fully understand what the Word teaches about finances and are you practicing those principles in your life?  If we are asking others to give are we being givers ourselves?  If we are asking others to partner with us have we personally picked up a few missionaries for monthly support?  Do you see in the Word that God is a Good Father and wants to provide for you?  That His calling on your life is not a call to poverty but a call to generosity?  Are you praying and exercising your faith for your financial support?  Is your increase of faith resulting in an increase of actions?  Are you managing your finances in a way that honors God – in others words – do you live by a budget?

As you can see by my many questions above that there is much to understand about your spiritual relationship to money.  So do not just give a quick check that says, “yeh – I’m good.”  But take an inventory of your life and your relationship to the resources God has already brought into your life.

#2 – Your Philosophical Understanding of fundraising

Do you know that God has called you?  Do you know that by the nature of your calling you are “worthy” of financial support?  If you are “worthy” can you boldly proclaim your vision and ask others to join in the work to which God has called you?  Once you have supporters it is critical to treat them as partners.  We cannot do the work we do alone and without their support we would utterly fail.  So what do you “owe” them?  Yes – you do “owe” them dearly.  You owe it to your partners to be faithful and work hard… But you also owe to them sharing the information of what is happening in your ministry.  Regular communication is critical to keeping partners working with you. 

Once you have a correct philosophical understanding of fundraising, you will never again feel like you are begging.  You will never feel like you are asking them to pay you personally.  You will never be embarrassed to ask someone to partner with you.  You will never be uncomfortable in sharing your vision and inviting others to join you in your calling.   

#3 –Your Practical Application of Good Financial & Fund Raising Principles

Are you an accountant?  Probably not… But guess what?  You are now expected to be one and you better be a good one!  Learn to track your partners giving.  Learn to do all your reporting accurately and timely.  Learn to pray over all your partners and contact them regularly.  Find unique ways to communicate and share the good things God is doing through your ministry and through their partnership.

Once you are good at the practical side of things, create systems so that everything naturally repeats itself.  Using your monthly statement as means to review, pray, and communicate with supporters is an excellent way to keep these activities going on a monthly basis.

So the morale of This Story… Your Story… is get the big picture of what God is wanting to work into your life and through your life in the area of finances.  Do not make fundraising a “necessary evil”, but turn it into an encouraging and empowering ministry where you gather many people and churches together to accomplish something great for God.

*[Old Indian Folktale – Author unknown]

 – Pastor Chris