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(Top 10 pieces of low-hanging fundraising fruit…)

By Joseph Moore, Presbyterian Foundation


  1. It’s all about the story. Successful fundraising is always about an invitation into a story that is making a difference in the world.  You are inviting people to join you, to fund ministry, not to make/meet a budget. You need a clear and succinct answer to the following questions:

    • Why do you exist?

    • What difference are you making in the lives of students and the world?

    • How can people join with you in this story?

  2. Fundraising begins and ends with gratitude.  Your donors have 1000’s of places they could support.  Thank them early, often, and consistently.  Thank them for listening to your story.  Thank them for even considering joining in your story.  Thank them for simply praying for you.  Seriously, thank them.  Handwritten notes can change a fundraising trajectory in ways I can not overstate. 

  3. Different generations will hear your story in different ways. Pay attention to your audience.  Gen Z is interested in different things than Baby Boomers.  Recognize you need to speak in strategic ways to different generations.

  4. Practice telling your story. (see #1).

  5. Make sure your board can tell your story. Have them practice. 2 min drill.  Why do we exist? Why should someone support your ministry?

  6. Make sure your board financially supports your ministry. 100% board participation is crucial.  Your most invested leaders have got to support the ministry.  Individual amounts are less important than the strategic and rhetorical importance of being able to say, “100% of our leaders are fully invested, including financially, in the work we’re doing.” Make this expectation clear early and often.

  7. Thank your board members.  (see #2)

  8. You have a broad constituency/pool of possible donors. Don’t forget about them!

    • Alumni. You need a database of students. If you don’t have one…create one.

    • Student’s home congregations. Many of your students came from a congregation somewhere, don’t be afraid to invite those places to join in supporting your students.

    • Local congregations. Almost every university town has congregations longing to support students. Don’t be afraid to invite them to join in the work you’re doing.

    • Denominational Partners. Denominations are also longing to support ministries that are making a difference in the world. Tell that story…and invite denominational partners to join you.

    • Community Partners. Progressive campus ministries have broad overlap with other community partners and advocacy groups. Don’t be afraid to ask those partners to join in supporting the life changing work you’re doing.

  9. Create a fundraising calendar. What’s on the calendar doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you have specific and actionable things to do each month.  Start small.  Share it with your board.  Hold one another accountable.  Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  Just put some actions on your calendar.  Start somewhere. 

  10. Do not fear. This is the most common command in our Judeo-Christian sacred texts.  You are doing life changing work.  Don’t be afraid to talk about it in clear, generationally tailored, creative ways.  Don’t be afraid to invite people to join the work you’re doing.  Your job isn’t to raise money, as much as it is to tell the story of what’s happening in your particular ministry.  Tell. Invite. Thank. Repeat. 

  11. 2 quick (but wonderful) reads:

    • A Spirituality of Fundraising. Henry Nouwen

    • Imagining Abundance: Fundraising, Philanthropy, and a Spiritual Call to Service. Kerry Alys Robinson

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