Grant seekers in search of support from faith-based funders should emphasize outreach and connection with the community rather than use high-pressure secular approaches that depend on direct mail campaigns or multiple — often duplicated — appeals, a faith-based fundraising expert tells us.
Wes Willmer, a former Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) official, tells The Grant Advisors that funders who are sympathetic to faith-based causes are generally turned off by high-pressure fundraising practices. EFCA is an accreditation agency dedicated to helping Christian ministries and faith-based organizations improve fundraising and accountability.
Faith-based funders are more interested in appeals that are sincere and highlight how a specific campaign can help a community. Those who give money to faith-based groups want to help, but want to do so in a spiritual way.
“The vast majority have a world view that believes in God’s stewardship,” Willmer says. “When you are asking for funding, you are actually asking to share what has been provided by God for everybody.”
Faith-based grantseekers should take care to avoid a problem that is all too common in the secular world: mission creep — where organizations expand their mission to chase available dollars, Willmer says. For example, ministers can get distracted thinking they need funding to advance their ministry, and then embrace whatever methods they deem necessary to get it. That usually results in them losing focus of their primary role, he says.
EFCA has composed a primer of advice for faith-based grantseekers. It’s available on the organistions website, but we’ve included a three important pointers here:
- Thank your donors. Too often ministries are so busy raising money, they forget to appropriately thank donors for their gifts.
- Better reporting of ministry outcomes. Many donors expect much more than just a good story.
- Beware of restricted appeals. New donor acquisition mailings should generally be limited to unrestricted appeals because the cost of acquiring each new donor is often significant.