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What Does A Fundraiser Even Do?

That’s a great question! What do fundraisers do anyway? Meet for coffees at high-end coffee shops, wine and dine prospective donors, rounds of golf on the best golf courses around the world, etc. You name it, I’ve heard it! 


I think a lot of folks think fundraisers are the non-profit’s sleazy used car salesman. No offense if you sell used cars, but you know what I am getting at. 


Or, the fundraiser is the nice lady from church who organizes the cake raffle every year. 


While yes, this may be some fundraisers, it doesn’t represent the vast majority who are passionate about their organization’s mission and vision and are striving to connect men and women of influence and good will to their ministries.


I admit that when I was starting out in fundraising many years ago, I looked at fundraising as “begging” and not as “ministry.” It was a necessary evil for the organization I worked for. 


Fundraising as Ministry

The concept of “fundraising as ministry” was new for me! A mentor gave me a copy Henri Nouwen's book A Spirituality of Fundraising that forever changed the way I looked at fundraising. 


Nouwen proposed that “fundraising is proclaiming what we believe in such a way that we offer other people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission.” 


I would come to learn that fundraising was the opposite of begging. It declares, “we have a vision that is amazing and exciting. We are inviting you to invest yourself through the resources that God has given you – your energy, your prayers, and your money – in this work to which God has called us.” 


Fundraising as a Call to Conversion

I had never looked at fundraising in this way before. It shattered my preconceptions and paradigms. Fundraising from this angle is good for our spiritual lives. It is a call to conversion not just for the people with resources and how they see their wealth, but also for those who are seeking the funds.

  • “Whether we are asking for money or giving money, we are drawn together by God who is about to do a new thing through our collaboration.” 
  • Conversion means to experience a deep shift in how we see and think and act. It is a shift of attention in which we set our mind on diving things (Mt. 16:23). 
  • “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rm. 12:2). 
  • Fundraising as a ministry involves a real conversion. 


Make No Apologies

I have seen too often the fundraisers who are bowed over when they ask. 


They make apologies for asking. 


They are afraid to ask. 


We need to ask for money standing up, boldly, not bowed down, because we believe in what we are about. We believe that we have something important to offer. 


Without apologies, we invite people to be a part of our vision. 


This is the fundraiser’s role. This is what a fundraiser does. 


We are inviting people into a new way of relating to their resources. By giving them a spiritual vision, we want them to experience that they will in fact benefit by making their resources available to us. 


Their gift isn’t good just for us who are receiving it, but it is a spiritual good for them too. It is good for their spiritual health. 


“You won’t become poorer; you will become richer by giving.” Paul states this to the Corinthians, “You will be enriched in every way for your greater generosity.” (2 Cor. 9:11). 


A Disconnect

A fundraiser cannot lose this confident approach, or he will be disconnected from the vision and lose the direction of the mission. The fundraiser will be cut off from the donor because he will find himself just begging for money. 


Fundraising, when not ministry, is just transactional. There is no real connection because the fundraiser hasn’t given the donor the opportunity to participate in the spirit of what the organization is about. A transaction was completed, but a successful relationship was not initiated. 


All About Relationships

The role of the fundraiser then is to build relationships between those who have resources and those with vision and mission. He is the bridge, if you will, between the two. 


It is more than just “asking” for money at the end of the day. It is about bringing together those with money and those who need money to share a life-changing mission. 


Embrace your fundraising role as your ministry!


Do you want to delve further into how your fundraising role is your ministry?


Take a listen to Petrus's podcast titled Reflections on "A Spirituality of Fundraising".  Each episode of the Spirituality of Fundraising podcast reflects on one chapter of Henri Nouwen's book "A Spirituality of Fundraising".  Every episode features an interview with a top fundraising professional who is also a dedicated Christian.


For more info, click here!




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