I Got 99 Problems But Fundraising Ain’t One

5 Steps to MUCH Better Fundraising

by Keith Cook

Do you know the #1 reason why people have trouble raising money?


There’s no way around it. It’s just straight up difficult and it’s hard for everyone.

When I talk to pastors and ministry leaders about fundraising it’s like they are shocked that EVERYONE has just as much trouble as they do at raising money.

For some reason everyone thinks their problems are the most unique and have never been experienced by anyone in all of church history.

No one is exempt from this.

But here’s the truth…

Fundraising is hard and it’s easy to find justifiable excuses for why it’s not working.

I get it.

But the reality is that some people have learned how to plan and cast the vision in a way that gives them repeatable success raising money. They know the method. They can reproduce it each time they raise money.

Now I’ve found that a lot of books and blogs on fundraising try to make it seem really complicated and confusing.

They turn a somewhat simple process into a confusing bunch of “strategy”. Why?

Usually because they don’t truly know the philosophy behind fundraising.

They probably had success a few times in very specific situations and they think those strategies will work for everyone, everywhere.

So they write out a huge detailed manual on fundraising but miss the core heartbeat of what raising money is all about. And they just forget to be cool and be normal.

Here’s something I want you to remember anytime you are raising money:

Complexity will kill your commitment to raising money.


The more complex a plan is, the less likely you will take action on it.

Anytime you find yourself creating a complex plan, ask yourself, “Am I avoiding taking action?”.

Complexity creates confusion around what you should actually be doing.

Because you don’t know how or where to start. All the strategies in the world can not help you take action when you don’t actually know what to do first.

But here’s the good news…

Clarity will allow you to take action.

Complexity = Paralysis
Clarity = Action

In an effort to help you in your 2017 fundraising I want to walk you through our One-Page Plan for raising money for anything.

This One-Page Plan keeps it simple. Keeps it clear. And keeps it action-oriented.

Most folks won’t do it because it’s simple and clear.  Don’t be most folks.

Those people would rather use excuses when they aren’t able to increase their operational budget this year. #micdrop

The OPP (One-Page Plan) consists of five components and one sheet of paper.

You down with OPP? 🙂

If so… go grab a yellow legal pad and let’s look at Step #1.

The old way of thinking says, “I hope somebody raises the money”.

The old way is secretly looking for someone to blame.

The old way points fingers and never raises a cent.

The old way is a bunch of excuses.

The new way of thinking that you HAVE to adopt is, “I will make this happen.”.

The new way does not look for someone else to “change the diaper”. They change it themselves.

They point the finger at themselves. The own it.


How do you do that?

At the top of that yellow legal pad in that weird top margin that’s bigger for some unknown reason, I want you to write, “I own this job of raising money. I will not rely on anyone to do this for me.”

It may sound cheesy but this is a mindset shift for a lot of pastors and leaders in ministry. In my opinion this is the most important step. If you don’t own this job…no one will.  Own it by putting it in writing.

Major increases in churches have come from one person who OWNED THE JOB.

Now Step #2 is where we clarify the goal.

How do you clarify the goal? You have to give it a time and an amount.
For example, “Our church will raise $100k by January 31, 2017.”
Remember, dreaming is not the same thing as doing. By putting a date and an amount on your goal you will know if you achieved it or not.

Don’t worry about how you will get there just yet. Just give your vision a deadline and a specific dollar amount.

So on your OPP for Step #2 write: I will raise $$$ by DATE.

In Step 3 we turn the vision into a plan of action.

The old way says, “I’ll wing it and figure it out as I go along.” This is my preferred method for everything. But usually when I try to wing it…the results are pretty unimpressive.

Passion without a plan equals failure. Think of it like that workout routine you started January 1. Most folks hit the gym for 2 days then drop off. Passion without a plan.

People are far more likely to give money when they know there is a plan in place. It gives them confidence.

A plan consists of a few elements.
1. A compelling story
2. A concrete calendar
3. An on-board team
4. A targeted audience
5. A targeted message
6. An easy way to give

FYI…we have a lot more resources to help you do the planning over at therocketcompany.com.

Step #4 is the fun part. You can have all the strategy in the world and never actually do step 4 and you will fall short of your goal. Way short.

In Step #4 you have to MAKE THE ASK.

The old way says, “Dodge it, this will be too awkward.”. But this is the wrong way to approach this. It’s the old way, the old mindset.

Not asking directly is the same as not asking at all in my book. Those who step up to the plate and “make the ask” ultimately get more respect from donors and raise way more money.

1 “ASK” trumps 1000 Hints.

Your job as the chief fundraiser is to challenge people with a specific amount and then let them decide or adjust from there.

Why is this the case?

It makes the decision easier for them. You have to move people to make a decision. By not making the ask you never bring them to a point in their minds where they have to decide. They just put it off. Or at least that’s what they think they are doing.

They can leave the conversation or meeting thinking, “I need to think about it more, I’ll revisit this later.”. And later never comes.

I wonder how much money you are leaving out on the table because you never ask for it?

You’re may be thinking, “Keith, I like for the Holy Spirit to make the ask for me.”.

I call that an excuse. I’d say that you don’t really believe in your vision if you’re not willing to ask someone for money.

If God gave you the vision, it’s time for you to roll your sleeves up through the power of the gospel and get to work. Make the ask!

For Step #5, when the fundraising is over, I want you to “Say Thanks”.

Here’s what I mean…

You’ll be tempted to not look back once the campaign is over. The old way of fundraising says, “Once it’s over, forget about it.”

But a secret that successful fundraisers know is that, saying “thank you” creates repeat givers.

And you what? It’s just the right thing to do.

I’m not talking about a text or a tweet. Nope. You have to make this personal and meaningful.

The best way that I have found to achieve this is with a handwritten thank-you card or a phone call. Hey, there’s even a Rocket solution for that.

This is so important because it lets them know they made a difference. They mattered. Their money achieved the vision. They achieved the vision.

Having given you an overview of the OPP, you should have all of these steps listed on that yellow legal pad.

Remember, you owned it up top, you clarified the vision. You started on your plan and you know to make the ask and to say a real “thank you” when it’s all done.

If you feel stuck with how to put this plan into action, I want you to reach out to me personally.

Seriously, schedule a free 30 minute call with me so we can review your plan and find the tools you need to reach the vision.

I won’t make a high pressure sales pitch to you but I will show you how other churches just like yours have skyrocketed their giving.

Remember, complexity equals confusion. The next thing you need to do is schedule a time to talk with me to review your plan.

You did write it down on the yellow legal pad didn’t you? 🙂