Women in Philanthropy Episode 4 with Sister Kathleen Lunsmann

Sep 14, 2021

The Women in Philanthropy podcast is back! Hosted by Tara Doyon, Director of Client Services and Sarah Rose, Director of Communications. In this episode they are joined by Sister Kathleen Lunsmann, President of Support Our Aging Religious (SOAR). This great conversation includes female roles in leadership, donor centric development and how this can transform an "ask" into a mission to build the Kingdom. They also discuss the power of listening and the gifts it can bring to you and to your donor. 

Show Notes:

Sister Kathleen Lunsmann is the President of Support Our Aging Religious. 

SOAR is a non-profit based in Washington, DC established in 1986. The organization supports Catholic sisters, priests and brothers. Specifically those who are aging and need support. 

Elderly religious continue to re-invent themselves. For example, learning a new language in their 80s.

Sarah met Sister Kathleen through the Nonprofit Alliance, and the Catholic Development Council. 


Female Leadership in the Church

How does female leadership add to building the Kingdom of God?

- Provided models of faith and profession. 

- Examples of female leadership

- Networking

None of us do this work alone. Jesus called us to be a community of believers.

When we are fundraising, we are talking with donors about the ministry or the particular need. But what we are really doing is talking to the donor about their Gospel call to stewardship. It's their need to give, their need to transform. 

When Sister Kathleen is raising money for SOAR, she's not just fundraising for SOAR but for the ministry that every sister and priest is involved in. 


Donor Centric

Seeing her mission as donor centric allows her to be able to really enjoy the ministry. We know people want to give, they have a need to give and belong. When we address that need with a donor, it's when we encounter Christ. 

It's the beginning of a relationship. Inviting them to give, inviting them to share their prayer requests. It's a way to give back in a very personal way. 



Writing grants, for Sister Kathleen, is difficult because the personal interaction is lacking. She prefers the personal one-on-one meetings. She can discover the connection and desire of the donor and then can go and find the project that fits with that interest. 

It's okay to say "I'm not sure" and go find the answer. 



There is so much spirituality in simply listening to the donor. To discover the passion and the interest. 


How to get started

- Read the book, The Spirituality of Fundraising by Henri Nouwen. It helps you identify moments of work that become moments of ministry. 

- Collaborate with other fundraisers. Find support and community. 

- Always pray. Dig into the Gospels and use the stories in your meetings.


Nonprofit Alliance and the Catholic Development Council

"The Nonprofit Alliance formed in 2018 in response to a growing urgency for an authoritative voice to promote, protect, and strengthen the philanthropic sector. The Nonprofit Alliance is committed to doing what is needed today to ensure that nonprofits continue to have the resources and influence they need to thrive."

"The Catholic Development Council is a faith-based community within The Nonprofit Alliance that offers opportunities to network, learn, share and partner with like-minded organizations, and engage in issues that impact our fundraising ministries."


If you would like to connect with Sister Kathleen or discover more information about SOAR, you can find that here. 


If you have any questions, email us at [email protected]. Please reach out and we would love to connect. God bless you and your work and we will continue to pray for your success.

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