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Fundraising excellence, and how to get there: An interview with Aaron Gonyou of UnMuzzled Ox
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an interview by Nigel Garnaitis

This month, Nigel Garnaitis of Christian Life in London got in touch with Aaron Gonyou, Founder of UnMuzzled Ox.

UnMuzzled Ox is an exciting organization that helps ministries become excellent fundraisers and robust ministry financial planners. Gonyou lives in London, and spared some time to share with us what UnMuzzled Ox is all about.

Christian Life in London (CLIL): What prompted you to start Unmuzzled Ox?

Aaron Gonyou (AG): Well, let me start by saying that no one grows up dreaming that one day they will become a donor coach. Like many kids, I wanted to become a police officer. However, as we all know, sometimes God has different plans, and you find yourself somewhere in life that you never expected. That is what it was like for me when I started Unmuzzled Ox Inc.

At a certain point, I looked back over my journey, and there was a common thread. I always seemed to be able to experience God’s financial blessing through His provision in every ministry that I was a part of. First, when I experienced His miraculous provision through my time at Youth With A Mission (DTS). Second, when I raised personal support through my work with Youth For Christ here in London. And third, when I got to experience explosive growth by being on the marketing team with Compassion Canada.

My heart is for evangelism, and if ministries are not provided for, the Gospel does not go forward. Many organizations and individuals struggle with funding, and that is why I started Unmuzzled Ox Inc, based on 1 Corinthians 9:9.


CLIL: What do you help people and organizations do?

AG: My goal is to help missionaries and ministries generate financial support to thrive in ministry and accomplish their God-given mission. I am not satisfied unless I see them achieve tangible, objective results. I work shoulder-to-shoulder with my clients.

In my coaching, I cover the theology of support raising and implement a step-by-step action plan that we have seen God bless time and again.


CLIL: What are some of the fundraising misconceptions that you commonly run into?

AG: One of the most common things I hear people say is, ‘I hate asking for money for me.’ When it comes to Biblical support raising, the most important aspect to remember is that it is never about you. When you go to a potential donor for support, you are asking on behalf of God and are asking on behalf of those to whom you are called to minister. You’re never asking for yourself. Your identity is not that of a fundraiser. Rather, you are an advocate (see Proverbs 31:8-9).

Another huge misconception is when people do not consider support raising as part of their ministry. Instead, they think of raising support as something they have to stop ministry to do. Many missionaries consider support raising as a ‘necessary evil’ and do not enjoy it. I try to help them understand that a legitimate part of their role is to minister to their supporters through relationship. This model of ministry actually keeps more people involved in what God is doing. God could easily provide for a missionary without involving other people. However, the more people there are involved, the more there are praying and caring about the ministry.

Also, perhaps not so much a misconception but maybe more of an unknown is that Jesus had supporters too. In fact, he needed a treasurer (Judas) to manage it all. If the King of Kings and Lord of Lords had supporters, then it is okay for us to have supporters too. He modeled this for us in Luke 8:1-3:

‘After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.’


CLIL: What are some of the common mistakes people make when attempting to raise ministry support?

AG: There are a number, but let me give you a few: Their 'asks' can be weak and nebulous: ‘Will you consider…?’ should never be part of your ask. Asks need to be bold, clear, and instructional e.g. ‘Will you become part of my monthly support team by filling out the form enclosed?'

They don’t emphasize the need for recurring monthly support. A $25 per month donation is actually a $1500 donation if that supporter stays with you five years. Many will stay with you longer. You usually only get one ask per channel because the more you ask people to do, the less likely they are to do anything. Use that one ask for recurring, monthly support.

They do not have a robust communication strategy. A support raiser must never rely on a single marketing channel. I often see ministry workers relying on their newsletters alone. For best results, they should communicate with donors via all communication channels that are available to them. According to sas.com, it has been shown that customers who receive multi-channel communication spend three to four times more than single-channel customers. I believe this principle is true in a ministry context as well. Extra Tip: In this digital age, do not make the mistake of cutting paper mail entirely out of your communication strategy. It has a place, and it still works!


CLIL: Can effective fundraising transform a ministry? Have you seen it happen?

AG: Effective fundraising will not only transform a ministry, but it is the foundation for every ministry in existence. To put it another way, God’s provision is the foundation for all successful ministry. For ministries with a God-ordained vision, the question is not if God will provide but how he will provide. Some ‘fundraising’ is done through prayer and faith. Some is done through hard work. Most is done through both. Either way, God is the provider.

I have seen whole families give their lives to Christ in the middle of Mongolia. I have seen high school students in our city bow their knee to Christ. I have also seen countless children living in poverty-stricken countries, crossing the line of faith by the tens of thousands annually. And it’s all because career ministry workers have asked boldly, God’s people responded generously, and God saw fit to provide.


If you want to learn more about UnMuzzled Ox, visit their website at www.unmuzzledox.com.