You probably know the verse, “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). You probably also know that any of us become cheerful givers to the cause of Christ when we really understand what Jesus did for us on the cross. When I really experience the grace of Jesus, I give gladly out of my heartfelt gratitude for what Jesus has done for me.
As support raisers, you get all of that! Your question is “how do I get people to give cheerfully to the ministry I lead?” To answer that question, let me ask you a question:
What percentage of your donors are cheerful givers?
I know that not all of mine are.
I have categorized my donors into four basic types:
1. First, I have “mercy” donors who give because it is little effort for them to give. God has blessed them, so they give a little bit to a variety of organizations. This type of donor is not giving because they are so excited about my ministry. They give because they kind of like me and it is no big deal for them to give.
2. Secondly, I have several loyalty donors. These are some friends and family members who would give to any ministry I do because they are family! Don’t get me wrong they are happy to help but they are primarily giving to help me. Their true motive for giving is not their enthusiasm for what God has called me to do.
3. Third, I have several cause givers. These are donors who give because they believe in the cause that God has called me to fulfill. Of the first three groups, they are the most likely to be the cheerful givers that Paul describes because they are truly giving to advance the kingdom of God. To be clear, family members and friends may be in this group too. The distinction is that if they are in this group, they long to see my ministry succeed not just because they like me but because they see kingdom values to be at stake. Like me, they feel called to advance the kingdom message. Thus, they revel in the “God” stories I share in my ministry updates because they pray regularly for God to use me to advance the kingdom. My stories become their success stories too because they have regularly prayed that God would empower me to effectively share the good news of Jesus so well that those whose lives I touch come to see Jesus in a new and profound way.
4. Finally, I have some loyalty-cause donors. These are donors who like the previous category believe in the cause that God has called me to fulfill. The difference is that they also believe that God has uniquely equipped me and my team to accomplish what he has called me to do. Thus, when they look at me, they don’t see some starry eyed Christian that is off on some romantic adventure. They see that I am uniquely called and qualified to do the ministry that God has given. They see that God made me for this! Therefore, they fully expect to see a return on their investment in the kingdom work I have been called to do.
I think you will agree that we all want to have as many loyalty-cause donors as we can get. But how do we get them? To answer that question let me ask you a few more questions:
1. How important is your ministry to the cause of Christ?
2. Can you explain clearly to your supporters how any gift you receive is absolutely advancing the cause of Christ? What ROI (return on investment) are your donors getting f they send a donation to your ministry? (High end givers especially demand an answer to this question.)
3. By the way you write your thank you notes, how likely are your donors to believe that you could not do your ministry without their help?
4. Are your ministry updates saturated with power stories that prove that God is answering the prayers of all your ministry partners? Is the kingdom being advanced through what you do?
5. Do you regularly remind your loyalty-cause donors and everyone else how you have been uniquely called and equipped to do your ministry?
To get the major point I am trying to make, I believe every support raiser needs to flip around the application of 1 Corinthians 9:7. We need to ask ourselves, “Am I a cheerful receiver?” Do I communicate my cheerfulness clearly enough to my donors that they feel my thank you’s are not some obligatory response? Are they likely to feel something that makes them feel better about the ministry they share with me with every note I write and every conversation I have with them? Are the power stories I include in my ministry updates likely to cause all my “loyalty” donors to rejoice knowing the prayers they prayed for the advancement of the kingdom are being answered? Will my heart of thankfulness touch their heart?
But how do we cultivate hearts of thankfulness? Below are some examples of gratitude exercises that can help you practice cultivating a grateful heart:
A Gratitude Journal: Use a gratitude journal and at the end of each day (or throughout the day) add 5-10 entries of things you are grateful for.
Gratitude Partner: Each night, text or email your gratitude list to your gratitude partner as a form of accountability.
Gratitude Ring: Put hole-punched notecards on a ring and write 3-4 things on a card each day.
Gratitude Apps: Yes there are even apps for that! Check out your app store on your smartphone to find one. OR just open a note on your phone and start recording things you are grateful for.
No matter what way works for you, just follow these simple “rules” for cultivating gratitude:
Make it daily (this will begin a habit that will make gratitude more than just a once-a-day ritual but rather a habitual way of thinking and approaching the world)Be grateful at the end of your day (whether this is when you write your list or if you just review it before bed – the benefits are exponential when you are grateful before sleep)
So, don’t just thank your supporters! Cultivate an attitude of gratitude and be cheerful about it. If you really believe you are advancing the cause of Christ, tell them again and again! Keep sharing your power stories. Those stories will continue to inspire all your donors to see that they are partners with you in your calling. Do that and your donors are likely to become more cheerful givers to your ministry. Then thank them cheerfully and they will become more likely to give cheerfully again in the future!
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