And you thought fundraisers just raised funds

“I couldn’t do what you do, but I’m glad you’re willing to do it.” If I had a penny (okay, make that a dollar) for every time I’ve heard these words, I’d be a wealthy woman.

Most people, including church folks, think of fundraising as genteel begging rather than as creating opportunities for people to take part in God’s agenda.  The idea of asking for money makes their blood run cold. But as those of us who are called to the wonderful, amazing ministry of raising money for faith-based causes know, we have one of the best and most interesting  jobs in town.

FUNDRAISERS MAKE GOOD THINGS HAPPEN

Not only do we regularly rub shoulders with nice people (generosity and grumpiness simply don’t go together), but we have the satisfaction of knowing our work matters – to this year’s bottom line and for eternity. We help turn organizational plans into reality. Our work makes it possible for others within our organizations to do theirs.  In the best sense, we are enablers.

FUNDRAISERS HELP OTHERS MAKE GOOD THINGS HAPPEN

As Thom Jeavons and I wrote in Growing Givers’ Hearts: Treating Fundraising as Ministry

Christian fundraisers stand in the middle of a process of giving and receiving. Indeed, they are often the people initiating and shaping the process. If that process is going to be an experience filled with grace (and not greed), and so be one that leads to growth in faith for a donor, it is important that the Christian fundraiser be conscious of the motives being engaged and the rationales being offered to stimulate giving. The Bible has something to say about motives and rationales (and practices) that should be regarded as good and those that cannot be seen that way.

In other words, we are encouragers who gently, carefully, and lovingly connect those who want to give with causes that can use their support.

FUNDRAISERS SHOW OTHERS HOW TO MAKE GOOD THINGS HAPPEN

Our call as fundraisers also makes us educators, with students as varied as the executive director, the board, other staff, and colleagues in other nonprofit organizations, both faith-based and secular. Fundraisers who understand their work as ministry are generous teachers and mentors.  I know from personal experience the fun of sharing wisdom gleaned from many years in the field.

My advice is this to anyone who thinks they may be called to fundraising within a faith-based context: Take the job and love it in all its dimensions. I promise, you won’t regret your decision — at least not often.

And now a couple of questions for my fundraiser friends:

  • Which of the three dimensions of our work — enabler, encourager, and educator — do you most enjoy?
  • What other dimensions would you add to my list of three?

Comments

  1. I agree Rebekah. Our work is not merely raising up gifts, we get to raise up givers, not just any givers, though, givers who are rich toward God. This shifts it from being a financial discussion to becoming a spiritual one. Our work then shifts to manipulating people to accomplish our ends to helping them see how they can partner with God in His work following not our direction but the leading of the Holy Spirit.

  2. Thanks Rebekah. I absolutely loved being a pastor, I was fulfilled and the Lord blessed. But, ever since God opened a door to serve in development, I have a renewed passion for ministry. I particularily enjoy the encourager and enabler roles. The donors usually have generous hearts, so they welcome guidance into ways that match their passion to make a difference.

  3. Ray, It has been a joy to watch you jump into and flourish in your ministry as a fundraiser for American Baptist International Ministries. You are a blessing — to IM and to me.

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