Putting the Faith in Fundraising: RILA’s Journey to Their Matching Grant

It’s exciting to see how God is bringing in new partners to give and make M25i ministries possible! As we’ve seen ministries meet their goals and receive their matching grants, we asked how they did it. Today, hear from Susan Wallin, Chair of the Steering Team for Restoration Immigration Legal Aid (RILA), as she shares what steps they took, and how God worked in their fundraising journey. Read on, and be encouraged!

When Restoration Immigration Legal Aid (RILA), located in Arlington, VA, received a Matthew 25 grant, we were thrilled and expectant for what the funding would accomplish in our community in Christ’s name. We celebrated and gave thanks, and then the reality of fundraising kicked in. Our sponsoring church, Restoration Anglican, had provided assurance of a generous matching grant, but we had pledged to raise more than $9,000 from individuals as well.   As a member of the RILA committee, I was optimistic about how easy this would be given the power of social media. Having heard stories of the thousands raised through the “push of a button” via GoFundMe campaigns, I thought our ministry and fundraising appeal would “go viral” and our match would be met with little effort once the groundwork was laid. And, indeed, we did (1) establish a Facebook account, (2) set up an Instagram account, (3) post a blog on our church’s web site, (4) announce the Matthew 25 award on our church’s weekly email – all with links to our Classy fundraising page. RILA committee members were also encouraged to reach out to their friends and family.

Using these approaches, we reached a little over $2,000 in donations, and then fundraising seemed to stall. Why weren’t more people giving? A viral phenomenon with anonymous masses donating to our cause had not come to pass. I began to pray against anxiety, trusting in God’s provision and timing. At the same time, we sent out an email to our 60+ volunteers, encouraging them to spread the word among those they were closest to about the Matthew 25 campaign. The donations began to flow in, including one very large gift. One volunteer reached out to her employer about a fundraiser; another friend of a volunteer approached her son’s private school about a fundraiser. Parents, aunts, and friends gave—and continue to give.

For the two years that RILA has existed, our committee and volunteers have been “fundraising” without knowing it…

The lesson from our brief experience with fundraising should come as no surprise – people give to those whom they trust will use their gift well and whose passion is contagious. For the two years that RILA has existed, our committee and volunteers have been “fundraising” without knowing it – talking enthusiastically about the work of RILA with friends and family, sharing stories of heartbreak and hope regarding our clients, setting an example by the giving of their own time, treasure, and talent to this ministry. Fundraising is hard – especially in the DC area where nonprofits and causes abound – and when the issue (immigration) is controversial. But faith, prayer, persistence and reaching out to those closest to the work and cultivating their loyalty have proven our most effective strategies.

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