If you are currently engaged in the fundraising profession, and don’t really love your job, I may have just the key to help you.
Many years ago, when I was offered the opportunity to move from commercial marketing to non-profit fundraising, I was hesitant at first.
It meant switching from promoting products and services to asking people to make donations to good causes. While I was thrilled to learn that I could use my talents on behalf of causes I believed in, I was nervous about asking people for money.
That was ironic, because I had never been reluctant to pitch products like rare coins, copy machines or banking services. It seemed to me in these cases there was always a fair exchange of value.
But with fundraising, I didn’t clearly see what I was selling … except receipts.
A conflicted soul
Thus began my long journey to discover the true nature of fundraising.
I had a fundraising job, but I was a conflicted soul.
I learned I had my own issues with money. I had issues with fundraising because I wasn’t particularly generous myself. I bristled when preachers asked for money, and I didn’t like fundraising solicitations.
Yet, here I was, writing fundraising letters.
It took several years and listening to some sound biblical teaching about money, but I gradually discovered the joy of giving to ministries that were carrying out God’s work in the world. And, in the process, I became comfortable with asking people for money.
But that only happened when I became less stingy myself.
Confirmation from research
At some point in the midst of this transformation, I heard about the research of economist Arthur Brooks.
In groundbreaking works on charity in America, Brooks published research that showed, as he put it, “giving generously will make you happier, healthier, and even better looking to others.”
Brooks had simply found objective proof of what the Bible says:
“The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.” — Proverbs 22:9
I began to see a profound difference between the message of the prosperity preachers: “Give and get rich,” and the message of the Gospel: “Give and you will be blessed.” Generous people experience the joy of giving, and that leads naturally to the blessings of happiness.
My own view of my profession began to change. I had been afraid I was just a clever marketer using techniques to shake loose gifts from reluctant donors.
Not so! As a fundraiser, I was telling important stories about problems in the world that urgently need to be fixed. I began to see that I was actually helping donors fulfill their own personal mission by motivating them to become generous. I was helping them discover the joy of giving.
I adopted the verse from Hebrews 10:24 as my personal, professional motto:
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”
As a fundraising professional, I was a “heart-stirrer.” I moved people to follow their hearts and take action to feed the hungry, heal the sick, free the captives and deliver the Good News.
As fundraisers, we deal in courage and hope. We give donors the courage to do what their heart is telling them to do. And we give donors the hope that their generosity can help change the world.
So today, I don’t see fundraising as just another “vertical market.” It’s really more of a calling. And it’s a calling we can feel good about.
Want to hear more about how you can help to stir hearts for the Gospel? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.