The Ministry of Fundraising
Fundraising is a form of ministry and a way of announcing to others a specific vision and extending an invitation to others to join in a specific mission. Vision and mission are so central to the life of God’s people that without vision we perish and without mission we can lose our way. Fundraising is also a call to conversion and this call comes to both those who seek funds and those who have funds. Whether asking for money or giving money we are brought together by God who is about to do something through this collaboration.
To be converted means a deep shift in how we see and think and act. “Indeed, living a spiritual life requires a change of heart, a conversion. Such a conversion may be marked by a sudden inner change, or it can take place through a long, quiet process of transformation” (Henri Nouwen). To be converted means to be in one’s right mind as the younger son in the story of the Prodigal Son came to realize when he was starving far from his true home.
Those in the secular marketplace are often wiser than the people who work in the church when it comes to fundraising. They believe they have something important to offer and are willing, without apology, to invite people to be a part of their vision. By sharing a spiritual vision with others we are asking them to relate to their own material things in a new way. If a gift is only good for the receiver of the gift then it is not fundraising in a spiritual sense. The investment (or gift) must be good for the spiritual health of the giver as well. “You will be enriched in every way for your generosity (2 COR 9:11). The giver must be allowed the opportunity to participate in the spirit of what an organization is about. So as a ministry, fundraising is just as important as giving a sermon, entering into a time of prayer, visiting the sick, or feeding the hungry.
For those in the ministry of fundraising there must be a conversion as well from the fear of asking and being rejected as well as dealing with feelings of humiliation. When a fundraiser has gained the freedom to ask without fear and to love fundraising as a form of ministry, then fundraising becomes a good for the spiritual life. When those with money and those who need money share a common mission, then we see a central sign of new life in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. The giver and the receiver both meet on the common ground of God’s love. When this happens we can truly say, “There is a new creation!” (2 COR 5:17)
I am indebted to the late Henri Nouwen for many of his insights into the ministry of fundraising. Lamar Hunt, Jr. You can also see http://lorettofoundation.com/.com for more information about the charities we support.