Fundraising has a long and honorable history — and it all started with asset-based giving. In this case study of an ancient capital campaign, I want to show you how to reach your funding goals through gifts of assets.It’s easy to think capital campaigns are an invention of modern society. But as Exodus 25:1–9 demonstrates, capital campaigns have furthered God’s work for millennia.
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give. These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze; blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; ram skins dyed red and another type of durable leather; acacia wood; olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece. Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.’” Exodus 25:1–9 NIV
Why is this bit of ancient history so interesting? Because of the phenomenal results Moses saw!
“Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work. They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary. And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. So all the skilled workers who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left what they were doing and said to Moses, ‘The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.’
Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: ‘No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary. And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.” Exodus 36:2–7 [Emphasis mine]
Not only did they reach their goal, but they also had to restrain people from giving more because they already had enough! Those are incredible results.
So what was it that Moses did to achieve those results? What made this campaign successful?
Fundraising Is Not Dirty
First of all, Moses had a healthy understanding of wealth and giving. He understood the principles of godly stewardship and the benefits of giving both to individuals and the nation.
Fundraising is not a sleazy practice or transaction for those who have faith in God. In fact, God was the one who initiated this capital campaign!
Unfortunately, too many faith-based organizations and churches have negative feelings about asset-based fundraising, feeling as though they’re taking away someone’s hard-earned assets. But the truth is that giving is beneficial for both the giver and for your organization.
- Understand the concept of biblical stewardship on a whole new level,
- See the possibilities of changing their tax liability,
- Uncover the full impact they could make possible, and
- Make their greatest impact now rather than waiting until they die.
God gave Moses clear instructions on what to do. Moses then shared the vision of a dwelling place for God to the people.
It was clear. The way Moses described it to the people painted a picture in their mind of the future in vivid colors and precise measurements.
There were no vague promises here. Everyone knew the progress of the campaign and where the money went. The clarity built donor trust and excitement around giving because the people could see what their gifts were doing to create change.
There was no manipulation or extravagant gimmicks to Moses’ capital campaign because the vision itself was so compelling that people gave out of the willingness of their hearts.
Now when I say there was no manipulation, I don’t mean that no one coerced their neighbor into giving, although it’s true that there was no coercion in their campaign, in fact see the context, “You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give.” What I do mean is something much more profound and intuitive.
I mean that there was no manipulation of the people’s desires.
The Tabernacle was something the people wanted. The vision was not contrived or forced upon the people (e.g., “You should care about this because it’s the right/Christian thing to do!”).
The vision of Moses’ capital campaign aligned with the values, goals, and desires of the givers. The Israelites wanted to get in on God’s plan.When your campaign lines up with the aspirations of your #donors, they will respond generously. Click To Tweet
When campaigns line up with the aspirations of your donor base, they will respond generously. After speaking to so many donors in organizations like yours, I know for a fact that many of your people want in on God’s plan just like the Israelites.
Asset-based Giving Equalizes Opportunity
Because every gift in Moses’ campaign was in assets, not currency, both rich and poor alike could participate in the building of the Tabernacle. Everyone could sacrifice at the same level even though not everyone could give at the same level.
Look at the list of things that Moses asked for. There were high price items like gold, silver, and brass. But there were also things like yarn and goat hair, items that were accessible to the common Israelite.Asset-based giving empowers us to sacrifice at the same level even if they can’t all give the same level. Click To Tweet
The same dynamic is at work in a campaign setting. On the one hand, you have people that are making a sacrifice if they give 50 dollars. On the other, you’ve got people giving a half a million dollars (and that amount could be a rounding error on their balance sheet!).
Campaigns work when everyone sacrifices at a similar level as opposed to everyone giving at the same level.
The Final Analysis
In this ancient capital campaign, we see how Moses blew past the campaign goals — and not a single check was written. The first successful campaign ever was purely built upon asset-based giving.
You and your donors can still have this kind of success with asset-based giving by using the same principles they used back then.
For more information on reaching your capital campaign or asset-based fundraising goals, let’s talk! The call is free, and there’s no obligation.