Worthy ministries are NOT fundraising scam-artists. Or are they? Do your potential donors see you as a scam-artist though? That could explain why they are not responding with donations.
If you see your organization as a poor, struggling mission in desperate need of sponsors, and you are trying to get the attention of some generous, wealthy people in North America and Europe - particularly if you are using mainly email as your method, you may be seen to be a scam-artist because of your methods.
You sincerely desire sponsors from western countries for your ministry in a poor country; but you must learn how to become fiscally responsible before many of those potential donors will read your email. Even if they do, they likely are very cautious and refuse to send you any money.
You may have found ways to latch onto a few Christians in North America, and you send them almost daily emails, attaching lots of photos of your people and your ministry. You do the best to make them aware of your need, but they don't give, and after a while they don't answer your emails any more either. Your hopes are dashed once more, and you complain about the hard-heartedness of those rich Christians over there.
Cultural differences can play a part. But you may not be aware of all the reasons.
One, is that you are a stranger to them, and though a few may feel they are getting to know you as you flood them with information about your ministry, most of them heed the caution of their friends and authorities who tell them NOT to send money to strangers. How can they be sure you are telling the truth? Like many scammers, you may be building up a story as a front, to get wealth for yourself.
Realize too, that many scammers who want to get money from strangers, pretend to be a worthy ministry like yours, and they use exactly this email approach too. You are using the same methods; they may just be smarter at it. So our friends think.
You need to learn how to become fiscally responsible and to be able to show that you are trustworthy. (I'm assuming for now that you are; for you could be a ministry leader or representative who is NOT financially responsible and trustworthy). In fact, if you are NOT an honourable, worthy ministry that honestly seeks to serve God, then go away! I don't want to help such despicable people! I'm on guard for such decievers too.
Instead of buying or hunting for lists of email addresses to which you send blasts of urgent pleas for money, look for websites where you can interact with others, softly introduce yourself, and when they show interest or ask you questions, then begin to correspond with them one-on-one. Make it your goal to win friends first, build a friendship, then share about your life and work.
It is true, friendships take longer to nurture than to just hit on people like a scam-artist, but in the long run you will get much more from a faithful friend who admires what you do, and trusts your ability to manage the gifts you receive.
So you won't overwhelm these new friends with too much information at once, it is much wiser to build up a website. There you can describe all you do in detail and provide photos to illustrate, and make a more urgent plea for donor donations, or regular sponsors. Then when you have made a new friend, just give them the link to your website and they can go see as much as they are prepared to see about your ministry. - Yes, there are guidelines for building a very good and effective website, but I won't go into those details here.
Always address your new friend, and potential donor, with respect and thoughtfulness. Don't just talk about yourself and your great need. Inquire into their lives. If you promise to pray for them, really do pray for them. Do not make empty promises!
Maybe in your country you are used to seeing beggars that cry out, trying to stop passersby, and show off their deformities and great need. But you know what? North American Christians like myself do NOT all feel obligated to give out of PITY. If your tactics are like such a beggar, you will not get help from the far more generous Christians who give for other reasons. No wonder your emails are not harvesting the results you hoped for.
Study what is important to those who could really help you much better, and pray effectively for your ministry. Then seek to meet their expectations.
For instance, many North Americans, including believers, are used to getting a receipt from a charity when they have given some money. They can use these receipts when they fill out their income tax forms so their government will give them a discount on their taxes because they have receipts to prove they gave certain amounts of money to charities or non-profits. Now, even if your country authorized you to issue receipts for donations received, they most likely will not be seen as valid by my government. (I believe your ministry has to have a head office or branch office in my country to do this). So instead of making up a receipt, and getting a reputation for lying, it would be better if you just made it a policy to always send a donor a nice thank you note, and later a report on how that gift was used and how it blessed people.
Donors like to see what their financial gift has accomplished, but some of us have high standards for what we see has a proper and wise use for our donation. If I respond to a pastor who says his orphans have not eaten for three days, and I send some money, I really am disappointed when I learn that he spent it all on a big McDonalds' feast that was eaten in half an hour (well, I saw in the photos that some food was wasted), and then the orphans go hungry again - well, then I don't want to give to that ministry again! Nor, do I like to send money for an appeal for Bibles, and then find that the pastor spent that money on rent for his house. It was very important to him, but I felt lied to - for I had prayed and felt a definite urging of the Holy Spirit to send funds for those needed Bibles.
You MUST show that you are honest, and you spend money designated for a certain work or need on exactly that! If they find out you cheated - you have lost that donor for the rest of your life!
Give honest reports. If you have appealed to your donors for funds to build a church by the end of the year, then at the end of the year you need to report on what happened. Even if you didn't get enough to build the church, report on how much you did get, and what efforts you put forth to get more. Some donors will respond and send more if they see that you tried hard, and that you still have that goal and some hope of acchieving it. The important thing is to report to all your donors and even those who are still thinking it over. Your honest and faithful attitude will make a great impression; far more than ifyou over-celebrate little advances, or if you just ignore those supporters altogether, and say nothing to report.
Respect what God is doing in the hearts and minds of the people you are in touch with - as friends and donors. They may wish to give you money, but simply can't afford it. (Yes, we have poor people in North America too!) Or they have family members who will not allow them to send money to strangers.
In my own case, I have promised God that I will wait until HE tells me where to give and when, and how much. No matter how urgently you beg me, I will wait for His prompting. And if your emails sound like a beggar stamping his foot and insisting that I MUST give right now - God had a big hurdle to over-come if He really wants me to send money to you, because my heart is not in it.
I have lived by faith for many years myself, but I understood that to mean that if I saw a need in my life, I would tell my Heavenly Father about it, and then wait to see how He would meet that need. I did not tell other people about that need, because in my mind that was not really trusting God. Then I would be trying to "help God help me" by finding potential donors and hinting to them.
I realize that that other Christians feel they are trusting God, at the same time they are telling everyone they think could help about their need. Maybe God does lead some servants to live that way, but it still doesn't look like pure trust in God to me.
If you feel God wants your ministry to be actively fund-raising, then you need to learn ethical ways of doing that, and be prepared to spend a lot of time at fund-raising efforts, which is thime you then cannot give to straight ministry efforts. Please do not do your fundraising like a Scam Artist!
Going into debt in my mind is not trusting God. Nor is it allowing Him to show you whether He is opening or closing a door for you. If you really truly believe God is calling you to a certain ministry venture or effort, then you should exercise faith to believe He will provide the funds to do it. If He does not provide the funds, take it to mean that it is NOT His will for you, or that the time is not ripe yet. If you borrow money and forge ahead anyway, you are ignoring God's signals, and you will slow down or bring your ministry to a halt, when you have to pay that loan back. it is guaranteed to make you spiritually miserable.
Again, this is my personal principle learned the hard way, to really trust God to provide for the works He wants me to do, and NOT to go into debt for it. Or, when I had a debt, I work hard to pay it off as quickly as possible, so I could have peace in my soul again. If you want to heed my advice; get out of debt and stay out of debt. You will see God do some amazing things for you. Your life will be full of miracles, which will only increase your faith and confidence in God.
Obviously then, if I learn that you have taken on debts and now you want ME to help you pay them off... I will be very reluctant to help you. I will be far more likely to help you if I find out that you have also made a resolve to stay out of debt - and that you are keeping that pledge.
Please, if you are worthy and godly ministry, do NOT do your fundraising like a Scam Artist!
Please Contact Ruth for permission to reprint this article