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Rich Anderson “How Do We Continue Fundraising”


I’m 54 and have never in my lifetime experienced such uncertain times, but like many have been sharing in HisAir, what a great time to be Christ’s hands and feet to our neighbors looking for hope.  We’re hunkered down at my home with ample supplies but we’re also looking for ways to proactively help others.  This has included special gifts to several ministries we support, helping seniors with on-line grocery ordering, and providing N-95 masks to an area nursing home that had none. (I had a stash for sandblasting projects.)

As someone who has spent the last 20+ years fundraising for Christian non-profits, I believe now is not a time to stop asking for support – but it is a time to ask differently.  Many like my family are looking for ways to give but there definitely are those right now who don’t know how they are going to make their rent or car payment – so it’s a time to be very delicate in the way one asks for help.  I also agree with Scott Michaels when he wrote last week that “each situation is different.” What might be appropriate in the Midwest might be ill-perceived in NYC.  Incidentally, I loathe when non-profits come out of the woodwork to ramp up their funding by leveraging a disaster they’re not necessarily well positioned to help with.  But that’s not what we’re talking about.  If you’re serving up hope daily and you truly need funding, there are certainly ways to ask. Perhaps it’s through an honest and compassionate direct mail or e-mail appeal to faithful supporters.  It might also be appropriate to ask your largest donors if they can carry more of the load during this crucial time.

If your radio ministry is similar to the one I consult, you have likely seen a significant number of monthly donors cancel their on-going support over the past few weeks.  Now is not the time to make anyone feel bad for their decision to cancel, but I do believe it’s time to rally other potential givers to consider helping with any shortfall.  I wrote the following letter for Smile FM last week and it’s being e-mailed to targeted friends.

Dear <first name>,

Never before has Smile FM had so many monthly donors cancel their support over the course of a week.  Some who became on-going supporters less than two weeks ago during our FunDrive have already backed out.  We don’t fault these Smile FM listeners for watching out for their families during uncertain times but it does put our ministry in a precarious position.  

As I’ve reflected on this I’ve been struck by the fact that perhaps it’s easier for us to give when everything is going well – but it truly shows maturity as Christ followers to give what we can when everything seems to be falling apart. Remember when Jesus fed the 5,000? What precipitated that miracle? One boy’s lunch “Andrew said, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two fish.” (John 6:9)  From this boy’s offering everyone received as much food as they wanted and 12 baskets of food were left over. 

If you value the ministry of Smile FM would you consider giving a gift right now to help carry us through this lean time?  And please don’t think your gift might be too small to make a difference.  If I had continued Andrew’s quote from above you would discover his doubt. “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people? Consider trusting God and letting Him amplify your gift to Smile FM as he did for this boy.

It’s hard to remember a time when daily hope and encouragement were more needed – the kind of hope God regularly provides through Smile FM.  You can make that hope possible with your generous gift today at www.smile.fm/donate or by calling 888-887-7139.  Together we can show the world that in times like these Christ followers are different because of our faith, trust, hope, and compassion!  That’s the kind of faith Mary Frances from Grosse Pointe has exemplified with her $50 single-gift to Smile FM.  She wrote, My husband was just recently laid off. He is the breadwinner for our family. And now the coronavirus implications are quite scary. Despite all of this, we trust in Our Lord and Savior during this trying time.”  Wow! That’s incredibly humbling for me to read.  It’s also challenging as I want that same faith.  

Please know the Smile FM team realizes the pandemic has negatively affected the financial situation for many of our regular listeners.  If you are not in a position to help financially at this time we completely understand.  We pray your family remains safe, faithful, and tucked in the arms of our loving Savior!

Rich Anderson
Donor Engagement Manager

PS  <first name>, we greatly appreciate your generosity during this critical time.  You can give right now at www.smile.fm/donate or by calling 888-887-7139.  As always, we will be judicious stewards of your generosity.  Thanks!

I hope this letter encourages you to continue your station’s necessary fundraising efforts.  If you act tastefully the worst thing that can happen is your donors will understand you have a need. And best case scenario – your need will be met!

Rich Anderson consults Smile FM on all things fundraising related – including donor retention and major gifts.  He also serves as a fundraising host for Dunham+Company. Rich has over 20 years on-air, in management, and in non-profit fundraising.  While a student at Wheaton College/Wheaton Graduate School Anderson got his start at the legendary AM 1000 WCFL-Chicago. Rich most recently spent nine years as a major donor gift officer for Kids Alive International and 13 years as GM/mornings at the late CHR-powerhouse WAYK- Kalamazoo/WAYG- Grand Rapids.  He can be reached at missionrich@live.com or 269-548-7700.

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