Money Follows Mission

In order to raise funds, nonprofit charitable organizations must communicate a compelling mission. According to research on both donating and purchasing, our decision to part with money is 67%-90% emotional. If you lead a nonprofit charitable organization, it is imperative that your mission moves the hearts of potential donors.

It is not enough to provide statistics supporting your organization’s effectiveness. Statistics that demonstrate financial prudence will address objections that a donor might raise while deciding whether to not to donate to your organization, but statistics will not compel a potential donor to give. Only your mission will move the donor. So, is your mission emotionally moving?

Not only does your mission have to be moving; it has to touch the hearts of donors immediately. Forget 30-second elevator speeches. Sound byte news and Twitter have shortened our attention spans so much so that our opening sentence better move the potential donor or we have likely lost them.

Can you state the purpose of your organization in one sentence in a way that touches the hearts of potential donors? If not, it’s time go back to the drawing board and ask what moves you to be part of the organization and be able to state it in one sentence.

Here are some questions to make your mission more powerful:

1. What about your mission moves you, personally?

Needless to say, if your organization’s mission doesn’t move you, then convincing others to give is an exercise in futility. If your mission does move you, then how can you state that mission as succinctly and powerfully as possible to move the hearts of potential donors?

2. Does your mission speak to the hearts of human beings?

Does your mission touch a felt-need in the human experience? Does it strike a chord in the hearts of potential donors as soon as they hear it? Does it speak to a deep need that all or most of us can identity with?

3. Is your mission tweet-able?

Can your mission emotionally move a potential donor in 140 characters or less? If not, how can you more succinctly word your mission? What words can you cut? What is the core, the heart, the bottom-line, of your mission?

Many of the most effective nonprofit organizations go even further and encapsulate the heart of their mission in their organization’s name:

No Kid Hungry

Charity: Water

Wounded Warrior Project

American Cancer Society

Save the Children

Doctors Without Borders

These names are so effective, donors don’t even have to ask what their mission is. The donor is immediately moved by the name itself. If you can movingly describe your mission even in your name, then your organization has a much better chance of activating potential donors and increasing contributions.

Regardless of your organization’s name, does your organization’s mission move the heart of donors? If not, securing donations will feel like pushing a car that has run out of gas. With a compelling, heart-touching mission, however, the donor dollars move with less effort.

Money follows mission.



Funding Your Church Plant: The Right People Should Pay for It… And It’s Not the Pastor’s Kids

I occasionally coach church planters, and there is a common denominator between all of them.

They are underpaid.

Nondenominational planters, especially, are underpaid because they often lack the deep pockets of denominational funders. Unfortunately, some denominations underfund plants, as well, not realizing that an investment in effective planters will eventually result in far more denominational growth and funding.

On top of these challenges, it is difficult (but not impossible) for pastors to raise funds from the new church’s launch team, because so many people in our culture parrot cliches about pastors being in it for the money. Contrary to 30-year old cultural memes still justified by the unethical actions of 1980’s televangelists, most pastors are not even close to being in it for the money. Most pastors, like schoolteachers, are grossly overworked and underpaid.

So, an inspired, idealistic, well-intentioned (and naive) pastor goes out into the field to start something that brings hope to lots of people, totally unmotivated by money. She sacrifices, works long hours, spends less time with family than she wants, inspires people, and pulls a new church together. She tends to downplay her own needs, while the growing congregation appreciates her dedication but is unaware of the daily financial pressure she feels.

Then, after a few years of struggling to pay the pills, she is suddenly forced into a another line of work to make ends meet. The church can’t even hire a successor because they don’t pay a competitive salary and never have.

Like everything else in life, the truth is that someone will have to pay for the new church. Pastors, let me just make it clear- someone will pay for the new church you’re starting; it will either be paid for by the congregation or by your kids.

If you’re not sick of your kids paying for it, I guarantee you that your spouse is.

Every pastor has a right to earn a fair, honest living, and any congregation that wants to be viable has the responsibility to fund it. That’s how everything other thing in life works. Nothing is for free, no matter how many white-suited televangelists ungenerous people use an excuse.

If, as a planting pastor, you struggle to ask for a raise or to believe that your family deserves for you to be paid fairly, here are a couple of questions for you:

1. Should the financial obligations of a church be spread across the whole congregation, or should they be placed squarely upon your family?

In other words, which is easier, for everyone in a 100 person congregation to give $5 more per week (which adds up to $26,000 per year), or for your kids to have less than they need because you are underpaid by $26,000 per year?

Compensating a pastor fairly is actually a small sacrifice if the expense is shared by the congregation. Either the congregation pays the bills or the pastor’s kids do. It’s one or the other.

What if you don’t have children?

You probably will someday, and they will be affected everyday by the financial decisions you make now.

2. How would the people in your congregation respond if they actually knew the financial toll the church plant takes on you, and if you’re married, the toll it takes on your marriage?

They would probably feel embarrassed and immediately take steps to pay you adequately. If not, then it might be time for you to leave and let them face reality. They are probably more open to reality than you realize.

If they simply had more information about the average compensation for pastors, they might make it right far more quickly than you think. Perhaps Googling “pastor compensation guide” and sharing it with your elders or church board would be a good first step.

Or perhaps you could invite a church planting coach or consultant like me to talk with your board and speak the truths you find it difficult to say. Elevation Collective can help you and your church put together a development plan that will increase revenue in the church you lead.

Whichever you choose, remaining underpaid until you no longer can is not an option. It will simply ruin your financial future, and you will eventually leave the church because you have no choice. Your congregation will then realize that they have to give the pastor who follows you a massive raise just to be competitive, and they will probably wish they would have done more to help you.

It’s better to be humbly honest now and let them know what you need. The right people should pay for your church plant… all of the people in it, and not your kids.

What Nonprofit Charitable Organizations and Churches Can Learn from Each Other to Maximize Fundraising

Are you tired of your organization being under-funded? Does it eat at you to know what your organization could accomplish if it just had additional revenue? Are you ready to learn what most charitable organizations and churches have not yet discovered that would lead to an almost certain increase in funding?

Then read on.

In the nonprofit charitable organization world, increasing individual donations and decreasing the organization’s dependence on grants is a constant challenge. Even though nonprofit management best practices urge that only 20%-25% of revenue come from grants, grants are seductive. The promise of seemingly easy money is a continual siren call to executive directors, and consequently too many orgs take on alarming amounts of risk by deriving 50% or more of their revenue from grants.

Making the organization overly dependent on grants, however, guarantees a stressful emotional roller coaster ride as grant funding waxes and wanes. Laying off employees and ending programs due to decreases in grant funding not only hamper the mission, it can quickly cause remaining employees to lose faith in the director who failed to adequately diversify funding sources.

Nonprofit charitable organizations can learn something from churches, who rarely receive funding from grants.

At the same time, while churches are ineligible for most grants, churches often miss out on available funds because they lack the basic fundraising systems that nonprofit charitable organizations take for granted. Terms like development director, CRM software, and donor cultivation, donor acknowledgement, donor retention, and donor upgrade are foreign in the church world. Churches could substantially increase revenue by implementing some basic fundraising practices that charitable organizations use everyday.

Churches could learn something from charitable organizations who implement the best practices of fundraising.

From my experience as both a pastor and a development director, I can easily see how nonprofit charitable organization and churches could learn from each. Churches know how to raise funds from individual donors (the source of over 7o% of all nonprofit funding), and charitable organizations know how to implement professional fundraising systems. The combination of both will maximize your organization’s revenue.

Here are just a few practices charitable organizations and churches can learn from one another (there are many more):

Effective churches:

  1. Motivate donors by rooting fundraising in the the overall mission every week
  2. Create a sense of community that increases commitment and generosity
  3. Tap into the “Secret of Fundraising” (emotional motivation)

Effective nonprofit charitable organizations:

  1. Implement a fundraising system that intentionally acquires and upgrades donors
  2. Adopt an evidence-based, donor-centered model of fundraising that leads to increased donations
  3. Create an intentional development plan to maximize donations

To learn more about what charitable organizations and church can learn from one another to maximize fundraising, contact me at for a free 30-minute introductory consultation.

You will discover how your organization, whether a charitable organization or church, can maximize revenue in ways that will surprise you. I guarantee you will be inspired and learn something that you didn’t know before.

Contact me today, discover how to raise more funds, and elevate your cause.