Fundraising Pressure & Baseball Per Diem?

By on July 1, 2011   /   Leave a comment

Lately, I’m hearing comments like these from mission staff of several organizations:

“Fundraising appointments make me feel uncomfortable—especially phoning.”

“If only I didn’t have to raise so much money…I didn’t sign up for this!”

“I minister 60 hours per week and now the pressure of fundraising on top of it—can’t be done!”

“Why can’t I be centrally funded from our main office? Then I could focus on the ministry.”

So I decided to ponder the issue of fundraising pressure over lunch at a fine McDonalds restaurant. I sat in a corner booth with my “healthy fish sandwich special” and asked two questions:

1. Why is face-to-face fundraising stressful?
2. Is this stress avoidable or part of the job?

As I reviewed my previous field ministry assignments, I concluded that any kind of ministry is stressful when I am not relaxed in the Lord. I’m stressed anytime worry overtakes me—on any subject!

I don’t mean to over-simplify, but we must start by asking if we are simply worriers. I find I never outgrow my need for 1 Peter 5:7:
“Casting all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”

Second, slipping into the wrong view of fundraising amplifies stress. For example, if I think I am squeezing money out of my friends like a beggar rather than considering it a privilege to invite them to participate in God’s Kingdom, I will feel stress. Henri Nouwen says it this way:
“If we come back from asking someone for money and we feel exhausted and somehow tainted by unspiritual activity, there is something wrong. But if we have a vertical view of fundraising, it is exhilarating because it is not about ‘getting money,’ but about inviting people to expand their view of God’s Kingdom!”

Then, just as I finished my fish sandwich, a memory from my baseball days hit me. In Matthew 10:5-15, Jesus sent out the 12 to the cities of Israel and did not allow them to take provisions. Instead, they were to search for “worthy men” who would host them while they ministered. The Twelve were commanded by Jesus to take the risk of inquiring about worthy hosts. It was not guaranteed they would find one. Risky indeed.

Here is what struck me! Jesus could have avoided loading this pressure on His disciples! He could have followed the example of my baseball coach in Iowa State who gave each of us ballplayers a “per diem” to pay for our travel expenses for road games. We felt no stress about our funding.

Like my coach, Jesus could have outfitted each disciple with a per diem of “loaves and fishes,” but He didn’t! This “pressure” forced the Twelve to learn to trust Him in new ways as they tried to discover the worthy man in each village. And He did it twice—with the Twelve and with the 72!

So if you feel pressure about raising support, you are in good company. A group of 12 ministers felt a similar pressure in the year 31 A.D. You are not alone.

Now is a good time to seek the Lord with this question: Why do I feel stress in fundraising? Is it the normal stress associated with risk? Or is it just plain ol’ worry? Ask God to give you the grace to learn to trust Him in new ways.


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