Helping Ministries Grow: Mentoring Christian Fundraisers

It is exciting to think that right now ministry ideas are brimming in the hearts and minds of believers across the country and around the world. Yet those ideas can never reach the Kingdom without resources to support them.

How can ministries find fellow believers who have the resources and desire to begin a partnership and fund ministry? This is a question CDF Capital Foundation seeks to answer.

When Dusty Rubeck hired David Duncan to lead CDF Capital Foundation, the two spent many hours pondering how to disseminate their fundraising experience to others. Seeking God’s wisdom, the two hit upon the idea of building cohorts where they could mentor leaders in the generosity space.

The result is The Leadership Mentoring Program for the Career Development Professional: a three-week fundraising cohort where staff from churches and ministries develop the skills, techniques, and disciplines they need to grow their ministries financially.

“The mentoring program is all about helping raise up the next generation of biblically sound fundraisers and development officers who will see the work as vital ministry,” David described. “We want to pour into men and women who know the value of raising money for Kingdom enterprise, and our program focuses on the professional and personal skills they need to be successful and have a sustainable career in the field.”

Helping Ministries Grow

Cohort members come from a wide range of ministry contexts. Lula Sanchez and her husband, Adrian, live near Mexico City and direct Southern Mexico Mission.

“They have a budget of under $200,000,” said David, “and learning a system and being trained to execute it has been catalytic for Lula.” Gifts totaling $50,000 could have an enormous impact on their ministry and allow them to support even more work across southern Mexico, one of the hardest places to reach.

“I really recommend this program to any ministry that wants to start doing things the right way,” said Lula. “David and Libby can share and teach from their years of experience. They have already walked the path and can tell us what mistakes we can skip.”

A few cohort members have been in ministry for decades. Others have just begun.

We want to pour into men and women who know the value of raising money for Kingdom enterprise." —David Duncan, CDF Capital Foundation

“This past cohort we had a young man who graduated from Ozark Christian College in 2018. Alex Follett was as green as they come, only beginning to build life and ministry experience. He’s now in a full-time development role and is killing it! He represents our desire for the mentoring program perfectly,” said David.

“At 23, I’m a development rookie,” said Alex. “For my first six months on the job, I scoured the internet and dove headfirst into books. Three weeks at the mentoring program far outweighed those six months, and I was catapulted forward in terms of my fundraising skills and maturity.”

Generosity of Rapport

In the cohort setting, the sessions often feel more like family discussions than formal training.

“I appreciate the generosity of rapport that our cohort members share with one another. These relationships become real and meaningful,” said Libby Duncan, David’s wife, who oversees the onsite experience.

As they take the journey together, cohort members are challenged to grow personally as well as professionally, since both are important to have a sustainable fundraising career.

Libby hopes that entire families will come to find blessings in the fundraising field, as she has experienced. “All of our family has enjoyed David’s career and the opportunity to meet people and make friendships. I’m the proud wife of a development officer because David approaches his career by being genuine, honest, and sincere. It’s been wonderful for us.”

Lula & Adrian Sanchez
Lula & Adrian Sanchez

A Plan in Place

“CDF Capital Foundation helped me move from ignorance to proficiency. The availability of wise and expert mentoring has challenged me and helped me grow,” said Andy Baker, Founder and Executive Director of Remember the Children, who has served orphans for nearly 25 years.

David said this growth Andy experienced is the goal of the whole program. “We want you to leave having a plan in place and knowing exactly what you’re supposed to do tomorrow when you go to work.”

As they take the journey together, cohort members are challenged to grow personally as well as professionally, since both are important to have a sustainable fundraising career.

The Leadership Mentoring Program is packed with opportunities to build core skills and authentic relationships. Dusty, David, and Gwen Clemmons (Client Services Director) have more than 100 years of combined experience to offer cohort members the tools to successfully navigate the logistics of a fundraising career and set themselves up to serve their ministries for the long haul.

Part of the training involves cohort members working in collaboration and doing live solicitations of the Duncans and the group.

“Each of the cohort members is given the opportunity to ask us to support their organization,” said David. “They’re coached to do appropriate research, follow the guidelines we’ve been teaching, and ask for a real gift. It’s fun to hear the cohort’s feedback on each request.”

Footing, Foundation, & Framework

David said it is helpful to think of the mentoring program in structural terms. In construction, footings are dug to provide stability to the foundation. The footing for a career in fundraising (often known as development) is philanthropy.

“It used to be that Christian fundraisers avoided the term philanthropy. We saw it as what secular charities did,” David noted. “But the word literally means the love of mankind, and who should be better at that than Christians? We lay our foundation upon the context of philanthropy. That’s our footing.”

2019 mentoring cohort (David & Libby Duncan, front middle)
2019 mentoring cohort (David & Libby Duncan, front middle)

The foundation of the mentoring program is biblical stewardship. Cohorts spend significant time exploring what the Bible says about money and how churches and ministries pursue financial growth in God-honoring ways. They can see the call to a fundraising career as vital as any other ministry work.

The framework of the Leadership Mentoring Program involves each cohort member developing their professional and personal skills. Successful Christian fundraising requires the personal skill to build relationships with Christian stewards and the technical expertise to help those stewards accomplish their God-given desire to grow the Kingdom.

“Every building will look different according to the ministry context,” David noted. “While they will have the same footing (philanthropy), and foundation (biblical principles), and framework (skills) to be successful, no two fundraising programs will look alike.”

Bringing Entrepreneurs Together

The mentoring program is simply one aspect of CDF Capital Foundation bringing two groups of entrepreneurs together for Kingdom work.

Ministry entrepreneurs wake up each day seeking to solve problems and seize opportunities to advance God’s Kingdom. They often feel they are working at the tip of the iceberg—they have so much more they could do but lack the necessary resources.

Financial entrepreneurs wake up each day seeking to solve problems and seize opportunities in their profession. They have more to invest than just an occasional check to a ministry—yet they lack the specific knowledge of how to unlock the 90% of their financial iceberg (their assets) that are non-cash.

Working at the intersection of these two groups allows CDF Capital Foundation to serve churches and ministries by creating God-honoring partnerships that will impact the world for Christ.

To contact David, email him at dduncan@cdfcapitalfoundation.org

Read more from The Cornerstone Summer 2019

We hope that you are inspired by the stories in the issue of The Cornerstone. Thanks for being a part of God's work to transform churches and lives.

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