by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist
It's not a stretch to say that Nehemiah was an expert fundraiser. We just don't think of him in this way, because his heart for God and his people, and his passion for the project of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem takes precedence in our minds.
Quick note: What if those we approach regarding funding viewed us first as having a heart for God and his people? And what if another of the key characteristics they see in us is our passion for the mission we serve? Aren't these worthy attributes for us to pursue? To that end, what if those we ask see our role in development as secondary (or "thirdondary," to make up a new word)?
Actually, it is Nehemiah's heart and his passion that made him a great fundraiser. In keeping with this, he built on this foundation with two more sterling traits. First, he was a man of prayer.
When he first heard the news regarding Jerusalem's wall, Nehemiah broke down in tears (Neh. 1:4). His next step? Prayer. In his narrative (Neh. 1:5-2:2), Nehemiah notes that this time of prayer lasted about four months. After this time, he was prepared when King Artaxerxes asked, "Why is your face sad though you are not sick?"
Because he had spent months in prayer, when the king asked of Nehemiah's need, he had a ready answer. Though he was scared, Nehemiah asked with clarity and conviction. Oh, and he asked big, too.
Nehemiah didn't just ask for a few days off to go see about a wall. His time in prayer had given him a clear picture of exactly what would be needed to complete his project. In just a short audience with the king, Nehemiah asked for:
- The time off from his duties necessary to complete the project (Neh. 2:5-6)
- Safe passage to his destination, courtesy of the king (Neh. 2:7)
- Materials necessary to reconstruct the gates, rebuild the wall, and to provide a home for himself while he was away (Neh. 2:8)
A good development plan is a specific one. And that plan also includes all that is needed to complete a project.
An example of this in a pregnancy help ministry might be if we are asking for an ultrasound machine to commit to a medical model. If we are in this situation, asking for the machine is only a portion of the project.
Are we also asking for funds for training, staffing, renovation, insurance and materials? And almost always forgotten, are we also asking for the funds to properly market our new initiative in the community (after all, what good is an ultrasound machine if we are not letting people know of our new service)?
Let's pray. Then, let's clearly ask for all we need to complete a project. This model is as old as the Old Testament's Nehemiah. And, it works.