Interview: RAISING FUNDS LOCALLY
Zenet Maramara is President of the Christian Stewardship Association in the Philippines. Here she discusses some of the key lessons she has learnt over many years as a fundraiser, including how to reduce dependency on international donors.
How did you get involved in fundraising?
In the 1990s my first fundraising role involved supporting the work of the Asian Theological Seminary through promotions, marketing and special events. At that time, like so many ministries in the Philippines, 70 per cent of our funding came from the United States, with only 30 per cent being raised locally.
However, there was a growing recognition that as the country continued to develop, more local funds and expertise would become available, giving us the opportunity to move towards national leadership and locally raised funds.
In order to play a role in this, I needed more training so I went to the USA to study public relations. It was during this time that God revealed to me a whole new way of thinking about fundraising.
I call it my ‘second conversion’ and it started when I began to understand that everything belongs to God, including all the resources needed for our ministries. I realised that fundraisers are called to walk alongside the people God has already raised up to provide funds.
This realisation changed my view of fundraising. Whereas before I had been embarrassed to ask people for money, now I was excited to give people the opportunity to support our work financially.
This makes the job of fundraising so much better! It liberated me, and today it liberates the students I teach. The burden of providing the resources needed for our ministries is no longer ours, because God is our partner.
‘I used to be embarrassed when asking people for money - now I am excited to give people the opportunity to support our work’
What else is important when raising local funds?
There is a certain structure that needs to be put in place before we can invite people to partner with us financially. Organisations need to have a clear vision and mission and a strategic long-term plan. Fundraising goals need to be established according to the different projects and programmes that are contributing to the long-term plan.
The leaders of organisations must allocate sufficient budget and staff for fundraising. They also need to be willing to give time to support fundraising activities such as speaking at events and meeting donors.
For the long term, building relationships with loyal donors is very important. You cannot raise money from someone you do not know. Likewise, transparency and accountability are crucial. This includes telling the donor what has been achieved with their money.
By applying these principles the Asian Theological Seminary was able to transition to 70 per cent local funding and 30 per cent international support within three years.
What is generosity?
In my experience, when you receive you also become a giver. God models generosity for us. He freely gave us all things, including his beloved son. How can we not respond with gratitude and surrender to this loving God?
Generosity is understanding that God owns it all and I am only a steward of the resources in my hands, including my life. This truth has far-reaching implications for the way we use our money, possessions, work and everything else we have been given.