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Todd Isberner
ShareMedia Services

The Secret Ingredient
(For Successful Broadcast Fundraising)





I know very little about cooking and grilling.  But a few years ago I discovered a “secret ingredient” that makes everything taste sensational.  It’s a seasoning that draws out the best of the flavors already present in the food. Once I sprinkle it on, if I’m careful not to undercook it or burn it, it always turns out perfect.

About the same time I was improving my culinary arts, the Lord showed me a “secret ingredient” for Sharathons and Pledge Drives that does the same thing. If properly used, it draws out the best of what is already there. Sharathon results almost always show the difference. What’s the “secret ingredient?”

It’s ministry. Hopefully I’m not being presumptuous or overstating the obvious. But the vital importance of seasoning EVERY fund raising broadcast with ministry cannot be overemphasized.  And don’t get hung up on the word “ministry” just because it is over used or used in the wrong context. To “minister” is simply to serve the listener and provide opportunity for the Lord to meet needs through you.

Certainly the objective of a fund raising broadcast is to raise money.  However, to do it in a context of providing ministry is the real challenge and opportunity. So here are three suggestions for “seasoning” your next fund raiser with “ministry.”


Dedicating a full broadcast day (or even a week) of Praise and Worship can be the number one most effective way to provide a “ministry” experience for your listeners. It is also one of the biblical models for raising money. (See 1 Chronicles 29). Praise and worship helps prepare people to give.  Spend at least one full day BEFORE and AFTER your broadcast fundraiser with a live, interactive “ministry” of praise broadcast. Use specific topics and invite listeners to call in and share praise to the Lord for who He is and give thanks for what He’s done. 

Listeners will be inspired, filled with gratitude and given new hope as they hear how God is at work in so many powerful ways.

I recall one Day of Praise recently, when a woman called in to tell us she received Christ after listening to the testimonies. (And that happens more than you realize). Later a man called to tell us he needed to pledge to support the effect this kind of radio has on people.  And he made sure we knew he wasn’t even a Christian! (yet).  A day of Praise and Worship will set the ministry tone for the rest of your fundraiser.




While it’s true that, “Where there is NO vision, people lose heart,” it is equally true that where there IS vision, people take heart. So get a vision that drives your ministry to new places of impact and outreach. How?

·        Ask God what’s next.

·        Get clarity and focus.

·        Flesh it out for your staff with details to engage and inspire them.

Perhaps it’s more community outreach or global partnerships, station improvements and expansion, new media ventures or a dozen other things that allows God to use your ministry in more effective ways.

Next, present the vision to your listeners. Do it during your regular fundraiser or produce a separate broadcast that focuses on engaging new listeners and donors with the Vision. Whatever it is make sure it is in line with what your listeners also want so that they can fulfill their vision through you. Invite listeners who have never given before to lead the way. Think big and expand your vision so you don’t focus so tightly on your immediate budget needs that you lose sight of the bigger picture.



When your listeners hear you say, “We’re more than a radio station, we’re a ministry,” do they believe you?  “Partnering” with other ministries is one way to prove it. Additionally it’s a kingdom principle that Jesus taught. “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”  (Lk. 12:48) 

You’ve been “given much” through a medium that reaches the masses and sharing with other ministries in need (whether locally or abroad) is one way to practice this principle.

You are giving your listeners an opportunity to be part of something through their support of your radio station that reaches beyond your own backyard. Engage them in a variety of ways that allows them to participate and engage where they want via web, social media, special events and community outreach. Also include opportunities for partnership during your fundraisers that dedicate a portion of the listener’s gift to the ministry partner. You will be amazed at how this motivates your donors when they know their giving counts for even more.


Ministry, woven into the fabric of all your fundraising, is the secret ingredient to keep your Sharathons and Pledge Drives spiritually vibrant and effective. Why? Because ministry is about people and as the beloved Father of Sharathons, and our fundraising mentor Mel Johnson, used to say, “Fund raising is not about money, it’s about people.”


Todd Isberner is president of ShareMedia Services, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in fund raising for listener supported Christian radio and faith-based ministries.  Since 1975, ShareMedia has produced and hosted over 3,500 fund raising broadcasts, raising over $1 billion for radio and ministry.