Why is it that so many people don’t like fundraising? Or fundraisers?
They think fundraising is a necessary but unpleasant little enterprise that supports causes which, ironically, are honorable and even spiritual.
I suspect that people think this way because, at least in part, we who do work in fundraising haven’t been very good at demonstrating why it is both honorable and a ministry in its own right.
Thinking differently about fundraising
My thinking on the subject has been sharpened and refreshed recently by a wonderful little book called A Spirituality of Fundraising. Written by Henri Nouwen, this quick-read provides an inspirational new vision for our efforts.
Nouwen, you may recall, is the Catholic priest whose writings on community, meaning, Christian service and other deeply spiritual matters, have inspired millions to rethink their faith.
I recommend the book. Get it, read it and then liberally sprinkle your attitude, your work and the fundraising culture at your organization with its illuminating revelations. You’ll find that Nouwen’s ideas easily square with the “transformational generosity” concepts that are influencing our industry today, including many at Masterworks.
Making fundraising a ministry
Using Scripture as the basis, Nouwen makes a compelling case: Fundraising is not a response to crisis. It is first and foremost, a ministry — as much a ministry as prayer, feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and any other charitable activity in Jesus’ name.
Furthermore, says Nouwen, fundraising is a way of announcing your organization’s vision and inviting others to join you in fulfilling it. When you do, you’ll help bring donors to a balanced, biblical view of their financial resources. You’ll help them see how their money can be used for the good of others and the Kingdom.
If you believe in the value and impact of your ministry, Nowen says, then you should be convinced that donors will benefit personally and spiritually by sharing a portion of their treasure with your organization.
Nouwen contends that if your fundraising is not a true blessing for donors, then it’s offtrack. Only when you truly believe that joining your mission is good for both the donor and the organization can you raise funds with integrity.
It’s up to us
We fundraisers should lead the way with this kind of thinking. The question is: How can we incorporate these revolutionary ideas into our work?
A Spirituality of Fundraising offers dozens of other thought-provoking ideas about our work. I’ll leave you to discover those on your own.
But believe me when I say, after reading this wonderful book, you’ll never look at the ministry of fundraising the same way again.