I may be stating the obvious here… Or not! But donors are not inclined to give funds to support our ministry work unless they see us giving first.
I am not just talking about giving time. There are many that lead a ministry who think that the amount of time they pour into the work is enough to inspire others to donate. That is a mistake. For starters, there is much work in ministry that people will never witness. Planning, writing, calling, organizing and recruiting volunteers all occur behind the scenes. Humans are visual beings. If they don’t see you doing the work, they have a hard time relating to the amount of effort you have put forth.
Additionally, we put our money into what we are passionate about. Jesus makes this point in Matthew 6:21. In GuideStar’s recent article, Hard Truths Your Board Members Must Face If They Want to Raise Big Money, the closing power-packed section, “Those Who Ask Must Give First”, details the essential need for leaders to open up their wallets first. While the article is intended for a board of directors, its principles are just as applicable for those leading a team at church.
Giving and then publishing those dollar amounts can create great discomfort for us in Christian community. After all, Jesus warns us in Matthew 6:2-4 not to be braggadocious about our charitable donations. One way we resolved this at our organization was to create tiers or giving levels of donors that we thanked in our year-end “catalog”. In-Kind donors were also included in those tiers. THe other levels ranged from $1-$99, $100-$499, $500-$999, $1,000-$4,999, and $5,000+. This way, people can be inspired by the leader’s or others giving, seeing their general range of support without listing the exact amount.
I encourage you, if you are not already, to include your own ministry as a recipient of part of your tithe or charitable giving. Keep track of what you are donating dollar-for-dollar as well as any in-kind giving of supplies or equipment. This will help you keep clean records that help legitimize your cause in addition to benefiting your own tax returns.