There's a humorous cartoon drawn by Gary Larson that depicts three deer at a water hole. One huge buck has a distinguishing birthmark that looks remarkably like a target. One of the deer looks up and says, "That's a heck of a birthmark, Hal!"
Imagine Hal, walking through the forest in the crosshairs of every hunter; not a very pleasant place to be! Unfortunately, our profession tends to produce lists of individuals who we feel might have an interest in supporting our organization. We write their name down and begin to treat them like a hunter in search or prey. They're simply targets we've identified. We know little about them, their interests, and their passions.
Let's face it, most everyone that supports us was once a target. Someone told us about them and we jotted their name down. But in the process of building relationships something changed; they moved from being simply another name on the database to become a critical partner in enabling us to fulfill a common vision.
Partners just don't automatically become partners. They need to be invited. And that's an intricate developmental process that takes time and some concentrated attention. There's a sacrifice involved and there's benefit to be realized.
Here's an idea--why don't you schedule a meeting with someone this week. It could be a luncheon, a visit at a local bistro, or just a casual conversation. Get to know the individual be asking questions like, "What is really important to you?" Take the time to focus totally on them. Learn to ask questions, try to "get inside" someone; to really understand them and what makes them tick.
As a relationship develops there will come an opportunity where you might choose to ask another question, a question that might go something like this, "can you help me to understand the things I might do that could be effective in capturing the imagination of people like you?" Listen carefully to what is being told you. And focus on the pronouns! If there ever comes a time when someone says, "we could do this," or "I could help you here . . . " then you know something very developmentally significant just happened--you've gained a partner!
Not everyone can give money. But everyone can give something. See people as God sees them, seek to identify and cultivate their giftedness, and help them find a place where they can use their gifts to impact the kingdom of God. Maybe it will be in partnership with you!