More than twenty-one years ago I married a Kansas State Wildcat, which has made for some fun in-home rivalry, especially before my beloved Texas Aggies joined the SEC. One of the things that I love about the Kansas State Wildcats (they were originally the Kansas State Aggies) is something you’ll see virtually everywhere in & around the college town of Manhattan (AKA, the “little apple”), the expression “EMAW,” which stands for “Every Man a Wildcat.”
It’s a mindset that the university has driven to help galvanize the Wildcat community as a “family,” which is punctuated by a football stadium that honors both the coach that transformed their school into a highly rated and respected football program, and this core value, the Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
Many of the most successful ministry organizations have a similar core value that relates to fundraising, because for them, raising funds is never about money, but the heart.
No matter a person’s role, these organizations understand the fundamental principal that everyone is involved in developing ministry partners, which is inexorably linked to fundraising.
I have found that ministries struggling most in the area of fundraising are those that limit the development process to executive, or designated development staff. When organizational boundaries like these are established, overtly or not, there’s little pushback since people are naturally afraid of fundraising
Notably, I have found that many executive directors, executive leaders, and even boards embrace the perspective that they do not need to get involved in fundraising. These are usually the organizations that are continually looking for the fundraising rainmaker who can come in to save the day.
However, without the support of your rank-and-file staff and board, no development effort can reach its full potential.
Partners at every level need to be able to connect with what is actually happening at an organization. Key partners need to be able to meet the senior leadership and talk with the staff running programs. Senior leadership needs to have an understanding of how money comes into their organization and what matters to the key supporters and community members.
While every staff member doesn’t necessarily need be engaged in the process of asking partners for a financial contribution everyone should be prepared to talk about how they contribute the fulfilling the ministry’s mission with any partner that walks through the doors.
So when you expect a visit from a partner, make sure that the staff knows they are coming. Instead of making introductions as they do a walk around in your offices, think about the impression that your partner leaves-with after your staff knows their name and introduces themselves and what they do! Think about how valued they feel when every staff member, from the front desk to your program directors, says something specific about the impact of their partnership to the ministry.
“Your name comes up often when we are working on….”
“It’s great to finally match a face with a name…”
“You’ve been such a faithful partner all of these years…”
“I remember praying for you about…”
“I know that you love [FILL IN THE BLANK] about our ministry…”
“When I heard you were coming in I wanted to be sure you saw…”
Remember, developing partners isn’t about money, but the heart. Don’t overlook your ministry’s most valuable development asset, your staff and board.
Perhaps it’s time to cultivate a new ministry mindset; EMAF (Every Man A Fundraiser)!