Ministering to your Partners

Apr 08, 2020

While we pray for safety, health and healing around the world, we want to share our thoughts on what fundraising might look like during this time.  We acknowledge that each of us is going to be affected in different ways, so this series is not intended to be a one-size-fits-all solution.  Instead, please ask for and seek wisdom and guidance as you consider how to apply this within your specific context.

By Debby Wisham, Corrie McKee and Haley Jones

As we’ve talked with fundraisers during the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the recurring themes we’ve heard has been the word “empathy.” When approaching our partners in this time of crisis, our goal should be to minister to them with a sense of understanding and care for their situation and needs.

We are in the process of friend-raising, not just fund-raising. If we want to have a long and sustainable ministry, it must be based on well-rounded relationships. Each time we think of those people who stand behind us, we must check our attitude. We must see them first and foremost, not just as partners, but as our brothers and sisters. 

Henri Nouwen, in his book A Spirituality of Fundraising, writes, “Money is not the most important part of our relationship. Most important is that [the partners] are able to share who they are and I am able to do the same in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust.”

This is a time to reach out and demonstrate care for your partners, not to develop a one-sided focus to the relationship. Continue to cultivate mutual trust. Recognize that everyone is going through something; many are dealing with intense anxiety, financial setbacks, illness, or overwhelming questions. Each partner faces their own unique challenges.

Ask for God’s wisdom: “What is best for my partners at this time?”

It may be a different answer for each partner.

People may ask how you and your ministry are being affected. Be honest, and be willing to share your own hardships. You may be surprised how you and your partners connect more deeply as you share personal challenges such as leaving your overseas home behind, giving up plans for in-person outreach, or any other grief or losses you may be facing. Even as you talk through challenges, however, it is important for you to communicate a message of hope and continued vision for your ministry (more on this in the next blog post Communicating with your Partners).

Take initiative in conversation with your partners by focusing on how they are being impacted. A few suggestions for conversation are listed below:

  • “What are you doing differently in this crisis?”
  • “How are you living in new ways that might be challenging?” 
  • “What have been the hardest aspects for your family?”
  • “What have been some bright spots in your ‘new normal’?”

If a partner has lost a job, is working reduced hours, or has had to close a small business, listen with sensitivity. God’s call to His Body has always been to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). Remember “there is a time for everything under heaven” (Ecc. 3:1), and now is an important time to use discernment regarding whether it is appropriate to ask for support. In this time, developing partnership may simply mean taking the time to listen with empathy - and to pray.

Some practical tips for ministering to your partners:

  • Call each of them individually to share updates
  • Ask “How can I pray for you during this time?” and then pray for them during your call
  • For those who mention that they are going through a specific loss or hardship, mail them a handwritten note of encouragement 

Above all, pray that your partners will draw closer to God throughout this trial. After all, we are in ministry to see others grow in faith, and our partners are an integral part of our ministry! 

Henri Nouwen, once again, says it so well:

“We do not need to worry about the money. Rather, we need to worry about whether, through the invitation we offer [partners] and the relationship we develop with them, they will come closer to God.”


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