On Fundraising: A Perspective

Funding Series

In 1999, when Norman and I first began staff in training with the Navigators, we moved from Auburn, Alabama to Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  Our then three-year-old son Tom had just been diagnosed with a very severe case of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.  The good news was we were now living less than two hours away from the Mayo Clinic.  The bad news?  Our Nav insurance at that time only provided TWO in-network physicians in the entire town of Eau Claire. Considering we had just left everything familiar and had embarked upon a life of ministry and fundraising, moving 1000 miles across the country, it was not a very great start to life with The Navigators. Our son’s condition made good medical care an absolute imperative.

For a variety of reasons, we couldn’t seem to get the problem straightened out (please hear me this is in no way a criticism of anyone working with the benefits department! It was just a weird situation)I remember after one particularly frustrating day of receiving unsatisfactory answers, while we were lying in bed Norman said to me, “Katie, if I can’t get this straightened out and we cannot receive adequate health care with The Navs, I will not continue on staff.”

What?!  We had just spent over a year raising funds so we could finally get to Eau Claire and begin ministry!

It was a watershed moment for me. Norman had communicated to me (without my asking) that no other commitments would come before providing for our family. His words spoke deeply into my heart, meeting me at a place of fear I did not realize I even had:  When push came to shove, what would Norman choose? Would it be ministry at all costs, even to the detriment of the family? The very next day, our staff trainer and regional leader, Joe Bernardy, made a phone call to HQ and got the whole situation straightened out.

I believe firmly that it is the man’s responsibility to provide for his family. (Of course there are exceptions if a man is physically or mentally unable to do so.)  I believe this for two reasons: 1.  A man has broad shoulders.  He can handle the responsibility. 2.  It is good for a man to know that he is capable of providing. That being said, if a wife is gifted in this area and desires to be involved, that doesn’t necessarily take away from the husband’s responsibility.

When Norman and I came on staff, I told him that I would support him 100% in this endeavor, but he had to support our family 100% financially. I needed to see Norm take our financial needs as seriously as he did the ministry.  As long as he did what he was supposed to in the area of support raising, I would follow him to the moon and back. (Note: when I say 100% I do not mean that he would provide a large salary; I meant that he would do the work necessary to raise the funds we were allowed.  I have written in a previous blog post about the four different areas in which we trust God to provide. Our salary is only one of the four).

So Norman has shouldered the fundraising burden. He makes the fundraising calls and monitors the state of our account.  I don’t even look at it because I want his broad shoulders to bear that stress, not mine.  

If your husband carries the responsibility for fundraising like mine does, I need to issue a warning: he will fundraise and support you in ways that look different from how you would do it.  His timetable will be different, his priorities will be different…he will do it his way.  And I refuse to pick it up…no matter how much his way might stress me out.  And would you know, to his credit, after 20 years of doing it differently than I would, he has done a great job of supporting our family.  Have we had rough months?  Yes.  Have we been in deficit?  Yes.  Have I cried over financial stress?  Yes.  Have I picked up the responsibility?  No.

See, I bear the stress of finances in a different way.  I am the one paying the bills.  I am the one standing in the grocery aisle debating what we can afford to eat that week.  I am the one wondering how we will spread our budget so that I can buy school pictures and register for the soccer team.  I am the one that plans which month to buy which kids new shoes.  I am the one constantly on the hunt for the best deal or the cheapest solution.  I feel that I bear plenty of stress without having to add fundraising on top of it.

Even when we were first coming on staff and we had contacts that were more “mine” than “his”, I still had Norman make the calls.  No one found that strange, and it helped Norman forge a relationship with my friends.  Sure, I went along on fundraising appointments when we connected with one of my contacts, but Norman initiated the meeting.

I have seen my role as trying to encourage Norman to excellence: excellence in sending out timely thank you notes (his definition of timely and mine are, admittedly, different), excellence in his newsletter writing (he gets very irritated when I don’t approve it on the first draft) and excellence to aim high, because that is the kind of man he can be and is. 

When we first came on staff and were struggling to get that enormous (!) sum raised, my dad challenged us to not just aim for the lowest level of support we could squeak by with.  He encouraged us to aim for the mid range salary The Navigators would allow and then build from there.  It took us 10 years to get to the mid-point.  But dad knew that if we spent a lifetime limping along on the lowest salary possible it would take a toll on our marriage and ministry, and maybe destroy both. 

After my dad’s exhortation to aim higher, I came across 2 Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to make ALL grace abound toward you, that you, ALWAYS having ALL sufficiency in ALL things may have an ABUNDANCE for EVERY good work.” This verse is in the context of our own giving and God’s provision.  In the midst of our generosity, then God will provide generously for us.  Throughout our years of fundraising, it has been my prayer that we would be both generous and generously provided for.  I love that God has said we will have an abundance.  This verse is my “blank check” prayer for our support raising.  One of my other favorite verses is Hebrews 11:6, “For without faith it is impossible to please Him; for whoever comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”  This verse reminds me that faith pleases God.  When I ask Him in faith to provide, He is pleased!!  

One of the unique privileges of our role as mommy missionaries is there is no set way to approach funding as a couple. No matter how you decide to divide the responsibilities of funding, these verses are a great reminder that God is our Provider and is pleased when we ask with faith. God has faithfully provided for our household for over 17 years. 

Katie and Norm have been on staff since 1998 in WI and now minister in IL. This past year was her first year of parenting to not have a kiddo at home full time! They have been married for 20 years and have 4 children ages 7-182 boys and 2 girls.  Katie brings wonderful and focused perspective on what truly matters as she is battling breast cancer for the third time in 6 years. 

A Special Health Update and prayer request for Katie – At 6:30 am on Sunday, July 12, she and Norman boarded a plane to Mexico for two weeks of treatment. Please pray for complete healing, for the care of their children while they are apart, and however else God leads you to intercede. For more info go to: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/katiehubbard

What stuck out to you the most in Katie’s post?  Share a story or any advice you have for a mom who may be in the beginning stages of this fundraising journey.

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