What I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a Development Professional

This article was originally published for Support Raising Solutions by Barb Bowman 

I am not so dissimilar to other fundraising professionals of my baby boomer generation. Most of us fell into our fundraising positions because we had a huge heart for our organization’s mission, a deep call to serve God, and frankly, we did not have the heart to say no.

When I look back at my progressive fundraising and marketing career, I can honestly say I would have been ahead of the game if I had known several fundamental realities before jumping in.

I wish I knew . . .

1.     A biblical mandate exists for fundraising activities.  “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good deeds . . . (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

2.     When a givers’ heart and will are involved, it becomes an act of spiritual transformation rather than a financial transaction.

3.     How many times I would see the miraculous happen expanding my view of God. My belief in the kindness and generosity of God’s people grew as I witnessed transformative, sacrificial giving occur time and again.

4.     How critical it is to measure and test fundraising strategies. But abandoning new methods too soon can be detrimental. It can take three attempts to mature a new approach.

5.     Fundraising is an equal mix between science and art, analytics and creativity, relationships, and methodology. It can be intuitive and, at the same time, calculated. A highly functioning development office consists of people with various talents and skills willing to collaborate and work towards a common goal.

6.     There must be a voice for fundraising at the executive level. Ministries ride on the back of charitable income and the generosity of donor’s investments. The person who leads development must be involved with strategic organizational decision-making and scenario planning.

Thankfully, I quickly learned to seek God’s discernment, rely on others who were differently gifted, and not be afraid of making mistakes. I can promise you that there is never a dull moment!


This article is submitted by Jessica Wood of Support Raising Solutions.  Support Raising Solutions is a Missio Nexus member.  Member organizations can provide content to the Missio Nexus website. See how by clicking here.


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