Funding the Dream

November 08, 2017

by A. J. Thomas, Founding Director, Joyful Giving Group, LLC

The old adage in fundraising is “money follows mission,” but mission often ends up following money. Money IS an object – one that places very real constraints on what we can accomplish. Mission follows money as we try to do the best we can with the limited resources we have available. How can we flip the relationship back to proper order?

Money follows mission when we offer a clear and compelling vision to which people are asked to commit their financial resources. In A Spirituality of Fundraising, Henri Nouwen reminds us that when we ask people to give, we are not asking for ourselves, or for the temporal needs of our institution. Rather, we are inviting people to invest their resources into a God-sized vision of what can be.

As a leader, recognize that testimony is one of your most powerful tools in sharing and shaping this vision. See yourself as a collector and re-teller of stories, specifically of how lives are changed through your ministry. Paint a picture that is broader and deeper and more vivid than balancing the budget or keeping the lights on or doors open.

Jesus told us that where our treasure is, there our heart will be also. Tell ministry stories that touch the heart, but avoid the temptation to use emotional manipulation to lubricate a donor’s wallet. Sometimes we make the mistake of asking for financial gifts before we’ve invested time into the relationship with a potential donor. We ask for the treasure before we’ve asked for, or offered, the heart. Other times, we are afraid to ask for the treasure for fear of damaging the relationship.


Heart and treasure always travel together.

Look at the success of crowdfunding campaigns like GoFundMe – their success lies in their position at the intersection between people’s hearts and their treasure, in support of a compelling vision. We do a disservice to both the heart and the treasure when we treat them separately, or have no larger vision to which they can subscribe. We do a disservice to the vision when we don’t invite the commitment of heart and treasure to support it.

Vision, heart, and treasure. Funding any dream requires all three. Cultivate vision and heart-led relationships, and then invite people to invest their treasure into a God-sized picture of what can yet be.
Follow Jesus. Make Disciples. Transform the World.