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Three steps to release local funding

FiftyFour: Three steps to release local funding | Mergon

As a ministry or non-profit leader, what comes to mind when you hear the word, fundraising? UK-based fundraiser and consultant, Redina Kolaneci, inspires us to think of it, not as a daunting or onerous task, but as something deeply fulfilling and dynamic along your organisation’s journey.

With over 20 years of experience, Redina has worked alongside ministries to grow their funding and foster healthy donor relationships around the globe. Recently, her focus has shifted to understanding the dynamics of local giving, including the challenges and opportunities presented in scripture, to engage the local community as active participants in our ministries’ impact.

Recently, FiftyFour, an online learning platform for growing healthy organisations developed in collaboration with Mergon, Maclellan and 3W Foundations, focussed on fundraising during their April live learning event. Here is an overview of Redina’s talk entitled ‘Three steps to releasing local funding’.

Why local giving matters

‘Who makes up the bulk of your funding streams?’ Redina asks. ‘For several organisations, their donors consist of only a few wealthy individuals, or a foundation or church – a handful of generous givers that financially back the mission.’ While their support is vital, Redina argues that relying so heavily on few external sources can pose a serious risk to the organisation’s longevity and impact. ‘Even the most generous ministries have to scale back from time to time,’ she says. ‘What happens if a major donor withdraws their giving? Very often, a ministry is set back for years when this happens – or is even unable to continue altogether.’

 The solution, she suggests, is in diversifying your income streams, and particularly growing a culture of local giving. Engaging the local community is not only critical for organisational stability, Redina argues, but is good for the community as well.

She states, ‘By inviting local believers to respond to local needs, we offer them an opportunity to love and care for their neighbours. Generosity builds and strengthens community, sharing in a common burden for the poor and needy. Giving locally helps us put our faith in action – going beyond mere words and expressing God’s love for our neighbours in deed.’

Having explained why local funding matters both financially and biblically, Redina now shares three steps to nurture and release it.

1. Focus on the people in front of you

Redina shares, ‘From my experience, most mission organisations tend to assume that money will come from outside, from people they don’t know. However, you cannot expect people on the other side of the world to take an interest in someone they’ve never met or somewhere they don’t know. If you want to grow local funding, I encourage you to open your eyes and see the people that God has already put around you.’ Referencing Acts 1:8, Redina urges us not to ‘look to the “ends of the earth” for ministry support but rather to start with our own backyard. More specifically, she says, ‘start with the local church’.

‘It’s through the church that we can find our greatest support: Individuals who buy into the vision. Volunteers who embrace the work and become ambassadors in the community. Businesspeople who serve as strategic partners. People who pray and befriend you on the journey.’

Redina reminds us, however, that partnership goes both ways; while the local church can support the ministry, reciprocally, the ministry has an opportunity to support the church. She urges leaders to ‘get out there’, visiting and praying with church leaders, and learning how your mission or ministry can get behind their activities. ‘As you contribute and bless them, they will bless you in return; they’ll contribute to your mission work.’

2. Tell compelling stories, ask, thank and report back

‘Over the years’, Redina says, ‘I’ve discovered that people are not moved by programmes; they want to witness lives being transformed. They want to see how a child who was once living in poverty and hopelessness is now thriving, attending school, and learning about Jesus. They want to hear how a woman who had cataracts in her eyes can now see and rebuild her life – or how someone, previously unfamiliar with their own language, can now read. They’re not really interested in all the steps you take to get there or the acronyms associated with these steps; they want to be moved by stories.’

According to Redina, there are four core elements of every good fundraising story. ‘Firstly, the story must speak to the need in a powerful, emotive way. It then demonstrates how your involvement is a solution to the problem. A good story invites others to be a part of the journey, whether through financial giving, prayers, or physical participation. And lastly, it emphasises the urgency of the matter – clearly communicating why it’s so important to give now and not “next time”.’

Once a person has given, Redina reminds us to be prompt, personal and creative in thanking them. ‘Don’t wait weeks after their donation to contact them – do it ideally within 24 or 48 hours of making a gift.’ she says. ‘Don’t fall into the trap of thinking “giving to God” is sufficient and doesn’t warrant expressed gratitude. Everyone enjoys being thanked and recognised for their contribution, feeling that their support has made a difference.’

Lastly, Redina emphasises the importance of regularly updating donors on the impact of their contributions, whether through newsletters, e-updates, videos, or other preferred communication channels. ‘Reporting can happen straight away, but it also can happen maybe six months from now. There’s nothing more rewarding than being able to show donors the school, the hospital, the community centre – tangible outputs that their generosity has made possible.’

3. Be accountable and transparent

Accountability and trust are especially key factors within the local context. Redina explains that unlike a foundation from abroad that is satisfied to receive a few photos, local churches and believers can directly witness the impact and assess whether words and actions are aligned.

To foster trust and credibility, Redina recommends that leaders maintain an ‘open door’ policy concerning financial reporting, ensuring transparency within their financial management and accountability structures. She also suggests being proactive in communicating how and where your funds are being used. Hosting open days, for example, invites accountability and welcomes the local community to come and see the work firsthand.

Redina concludes the discussion by encouraging leaders to share their stories with others because ‘fundraising, when done well, can be the catalyst for connecting God’s people with His purposes’. She adds, ‘Applying these steps consistently will help grow your local support, inspiring others to join in the joy of giving.’

FiftyFour is an online learning and capacity-building platform designed to guide leaders towards growing healthy organisations. It offers a variety of tools, courses, and peer learning events, designed to strengthen leaders and organisations in nine essential areas. This Live Learning session is just one aspect of the support available, specifically focussing on ‘funding’. To watch the full event and explore all that FiftyFour has to offer, free of charge, visit www.fiftyfourcollective.com and register today.

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