Monday, August 29, 2016

Working at Being Unapologetic

A couple of months ago, I met with Nate VanderStelt, a friend, brother in Christ, fellow church member at Madison Square Church, and consultant for the Timothy Group (  The Timothy Group is a company that helps ministries with fundraising and capacity building.  While Discipling Marketplace Leaders (DML) can't afford to hire them, Nate offered to meet with me gratis in light of DML's fundraising challenges.

I walked into the coffee shop with a sense of dread.  I knew he would ask me how much time I spend with donors, how I am doing with the "ask," how many "touch-points" I have with key givers, etc.  And I knew I didn't have good answers.  I just want to do the ministry.  I don't like the whole donation side of things.  I don't like to "ask."

So I brace myself and slide into my seat to face Nate.

But if you know Nate, you know this to be true:  He is probably the only person that I have ever met that truly enjoys fundraising NOT because he is such a schmoozer or so charismatic (although he is that) but because he TRULY is excited about the opportunity to connect the dots between people who want to be involved in meaningful ministry and the participants in the ministry, both of whom want to help those ministries grow.  This is a God-thing for Nate.  He loves what he does because he sees a calling in it.  And God blesses that - Nate is good at what he does.

I like this.  I need discipline when it comes to fundraising!
I began to relax in my chair and change my perspective from the "dreaded obligation" of fundraising to potential "dot-connector."  Seeing Nate's energy and passion for this is helpful for me.  Being reminded that I am the bridge between the small business person in East, West or Northern Africa and a donor who wants to significantly partner in making a difference is important.  If I don't provide that bridge, there will not be a connection.  Nate reminds me that all three (donor, me as bridge, and Kenyan business owner) are all under God the Father, under His sight, His provision, His delight.  I have the joy of sharing the story of what God is doing through Discipling Marketplace Ministries. 

But Nate doesn't stop at just sharing his enthusiasm.  He gave me some tips (that I didn't think I needed since I've been doing this for so long!) and he encouraged me to share with you.  I will share two tips with you now:
  • One blog reader once told me several years ago that the reason they read my blog is because I don't ask for money in it.  I have since used the blog for fundraising a few times but have felt great angst about it.  However, as Nate pointed out, NPR (National Public Radio) and other Christian radio stations all have their pledge weeks.  People can tune out during that week and return when it is over.  So I will do the same.  The blog is a good resource for me as a point of contact for many of you.  Paper mail gets almost no return.  So here is my pledge:  I put out probably 50 blogs in a year, once a week.  Once every quarter (no more than that!) I will invite you into the story of what God is doing through financial partnership.  You don't have to read that one if you don't want, but you can know that the next eleven weeks will say nothing about that.
  •  Decide with your donor one time per year where you will discuss their donation.  Then for the rest of the times that you meet during a year, you can both relax and know that this does not need to be discussed.  One thing that I have found so difficult is to not take on the "donor/recipient" mentality every time I see a donor!  My guess is that donors might feel the same, so this is great advice!
There is a significant opportunity right now, so let me use this blog as a bridge.  I need to raise $1250/month for the next twelve months ($15,000) for the ministry in Ghana.  We have 130 pastors and church leaders trained both in Accra and in Tamale (northern region).  Eleven churches have started or will be starting soon a four week series in their church called "Thirty Days in the Marketplace."  When that is completed, they will call for their business people to come forward and begin a twelve week basic business skills class, followed by being commissioned by their church as Marketplace Ministers.  This is very exciting!

I learned this past week that the word about Discipling Marketplace Leaders has gone from pastors in the Northern Region of Ghana to Niger and Chad, and I was informed to expect about fifty pastors to come from those two countries when we return to do another two-day workshop in Ghana in November.  This is exciting, especially these are all very heavily dominated Muslim regions!  However, we do not have the funds to go into two more countries at this time, so we are left with the challenge of possibly needing to tell them not to come.

If you would like to join with what God is doing through DML in building His church, please go to, click on Donate, and then select Discipling Marketplace Leaders - 609045.  We are especially looking for monthly donors, as this work continues to grow and spread.  If thirteen people decided to give $100/month, we would meet this goal! Thank you for prayerfully considering this, and for reading this blog to the end!
I want this to be my new attitude about fundraising!