In 2012, in response to so-called consumer holidays ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’, New York’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation partnered to create Giving Tuesday. This November 28, organizations, influencers, and individuals will reach out across their platforms to encourage people to give generously to worthy causes.
As I wrote in Giving Up, when ministry leaders ask others to give, it isn’t begging. It’s an invitation to follow Jesus’ example and teaching. It’s an opportunity for individuals to experience a counter-cultural gospel message of ‘giving up’ in the face of so much ‘building up.’
Indeed, #GivingTuesday can become a rallying point for your non-profit, para-church ministries, or local ministry effort. #GivingTuesday can raise your profile in the community. Pastors and other church leaders can #GivingTuesday to champion a cause in your community or perhaps a mission organization you’ve partnered with.
(Some may wonder if their church should participate in #GivingTuesday to fund their operating budget. In a word, “no”. Churches are tax-exempt but they are a very different kind of nonprofit than nonprofits. But they can support the call for #GivingTuesday to local nonprofits; even special outreach ministries in their own budget.)
So, is fundraising really THAT hard?
My answer: Yes!…and No!
Of Course, Fundraising is Hard!
Lots people with a great outreach idea end up sitting in coffee shops pondering and wondering why their idea never gets off the ground. They sigh, “Someone really has to do this!” and “This really, really needs to happen! And then they start to count the cost. “Where am I going to go to get the money to get this started? Heck, I can’t raise that kind of money?” Sigh. Back to reality. They shelve your good idea…and shove the important need off into tomorrow. And the dream fades for lack of funding.
Why is it so hard to raise money from others for a truly great idea you’ve had? It is hard because your great idea is just your idea, to start with. It has to get some daylight to gain some traction. It has to find its way into the imagination of someone else. It has to be expressed in a compelling way to a real potential donor, not just a good friend. And then another donor has to be convinced it is worthy and then another. And another. In order to raise sufficient money, your idea needs to burn as bright as a light bulb and be as combustible as a flame. It has to spread like wildfire, not just glow in the dark. Hearts must be stirred. Minds have to be activated. People have to see the problem you are trying to address…and see the solution as you see it.
And bringing people to that point of discovery or imagination is tough. People are bombarded by millions of messages every day that grab and demand their attention. They are always hearing solicitations and appeals. There are millions of causes. If someone doesn’t jump at your idea, it is not because they don’t care about it…it is usually because they can’t see it. They haven’t really heard the good you desire to do.
It takes thought and prayer, trial and error, and time and space to present a clear and worthy idea. It takes time for a great idea to find its way into the ear, the eye, and the heart of a potential donor.
On the Other Hand…
At the same time, in a way, it is not hard. The tools and means of communication and education are overwhelming. There is crowd-funding. There are social media campaigns. There are online platforms. There are numerous emails, letters, and blogs that can be written and employed to reach the masses. There are entire companies whose sole purpose is to help you raise the awareness of your ministry and the funds you need to do it.
And we are entering into a time of year when giving and supporting will start to trend in your favor. Giving Tuesday is coming up, and they have lots of ways you can access resources and platforms to help you reach out.
In a way, we have never had it so good! The reach of social media is stunning…and smart nonprofits are using it to tell their story and ask for support.
So go for it. Take these three weeks and make an intentional plan to be ready for Giving Tuesday and this whole season of giving. Stretch yourself in ways that you have never imagined. Research how you could crowdfund a project. Encourage small groups in your church to adopt a cause. Write and revise appeal letters. Host an event. Brush up on your social media savvy. And most of all, put in the elbow grease that’s necessary for your idea to become a vision that can be shared.
As always, I’m here to help. We would love to use our platforms to share the good work you do. I would love to help you craft that shareable vision. Send me a note or find us on Twitter or Facebook. Fundraising is a team effort, and I’m on your team.