By Blake Mankin, Houston Regional Representative
Since becoming a fundraiser for HOPE International nearly a year ago, I’ve learned that a core component of our fundraising philosophy is prioritizing relationships over transactions. The essence of this value is investing in people out of genuine love for them, not based on what they can do for us. And you don’t have to be a fundraiser or HOPE donor to have this Christ-like, missional ethic in your life.
Simply defined, a missional relationship is a partnership of equals—individuals teaming up to make an impact in the world as they spur each other on to be more like Christ. With this shared goal, our posture is one of invitation to those around us, offering each person the opportunity to dive deeper into who God is calling them to be.
As fundraisers, when we seek “relationships over transactions,” we establish missional relationships with those desiring the same. To extend this thinking beyond fundraising or giving financially, here are five ways we can better relate to those around us:
- See people, not pawns. The individuals we know—personally or in passing—aren’t assets to be leveraged toward our personal goals. They are people made in the image of God with dreams, passions, and callings. Consistently asking them how we can serve their needs and acting on their answers builds compassion, selflessness, and, ultimately, godliness.
- Ask why. Understanding others’ core motivations helps us know who they are and not just what they do. Respectfully asking why people do the things they do gives us better insight into how we can best partner together in a missional relationship. When each member of a relationship maintains a posture of curiosity, collective understanding grows.
- Listen more than you talk. We have a guideline as fundraisers at HOPE that in meetings we should aim to talk less than half the time. Fred Smith recently wrote about how fundraisers shouldn’t just see themselves as ministers, but also as learners—acknowledging that donors have important lessons to teach. Likewise, we shouldn’t just focus on how we can be a guide to those around us. By allowing others to also teach, minister, and mentor us, we’re pursuing equality and mutual learning.
- Be generous with your introductions. At HOPE, we’re passionate about sharing our resources and lessons learned through both success and failure. This openhandedness drives fundraisers at HOPE to have complete freedom to introduce partners to other causes and organizations they might be interested in. Adopting this same mentality in our lives causes us to be less possessive over friends, including them in a broader community and making introductions to others.
- Say “thank you” more than “please.” It’s important we be specific in the way we recognize selflessness, and not just toward actions directed at us. A truly grateful posture also affirms the kindness extended to others.
As we read in 1 Corinthians 12, we’re each a different part of the same body—contributing our unique giftings to a community of equals as we seek to honor God and serve others. The “relationships over transactions” mantra isn’t just for fundraisers; it’s for everyone.
Blake joined HOPE as a regional representative in Houston, TX, in 2016. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Blake is married to Meagan, and they have a son, Rivers. In addition to his work at HOPE, Blake enjoys the Houston food scene, running, playing the drums, and writing about meaningful progress toward values-driven productivity.
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