Fundraising, Sales & Daniel
There's a topic that brings so much baggage with it Americans rarely want to say the word or approach it in their conversations...that topic is Fundraising. As an American, it is awkward, at best, to engage in fundraising because we are such a self-sufficient people culturally. Asking for funds feels like weakness and yet most Americans respond favorably to being invited into the support of a cause, a journey or a humanitarian effort. Why the disparity? It seems the baggage and the awkwardness stems mostly from the methods used to raise the funds and not the need or the use of the funds.
As our family began this journey to Croatia, we knew there would be a fundraising component because our travel visas will not allow us to receive payment for work. What we didn't know is how difficult it would be to break the stereotypes that exist in this space. Several people recommended books to us about the topic of fundraising in the light of our faith, so I started there. What struck me about both books is that the bulk of them included big components of salesmanship and what I call "manipulation of situations to receive favorable results." This didn't sit well with me and after some time thinking and praying about the suggestions and methods utilized in these recommended books, I had a Daniel moment.
In Daniel 1, our hero Daniel finds himself in a place of favor and honor with the Babylonians. He's recruited on a special mission and receives great training and favor from the king. Because of Daniel's faith, he has dietary restrictions and chooses, at the risk of insulting the king, to not participate in the diet given to him and others in his position. Instead, he takes an alternative route and trusts God for the outcome. Daniel and his men are blessed by God and find themselves healthier than those who participated in the king's diet. God honored their resolve and their decision to follow what they knew to be right according to God. I encourage you to read the passage, as its a great account of God's provision for Daniel and his people.
How does that matter here, in our situation? Well, we've decided as a family, that if God has called us on this journey, to Croatia, that he will provide all we need to get there. We've decided it is our obligation to present our financial need to those around us and actively seek partners in our journey, but we have specifically decided NOT to follow the advice of recommended books and the advice many around us to employ salesmanship techniques to raise funds. Why? Not because we think there is something fundamentally wrong with them, but because we feel that God has a plan and we want to trust him with the outcome rather than try to manipulate situations to create a favorable outcome. We trust, just like Daniel, that God has a plan for our journey and he will honor our efforts to serve him by fundraising in a manner we believe honors the calling we have to love and serve in Croatia as soon as we can.