These things I still believe about fundraising as ministry

Earlier this fall, I agreed to contribute to a book project sponsored by the Christian Leadership Alliance. Tentatively titled A Stewardship Primer, the aim is to offer the basics of stewardship theology and practice to CEOs, development staff, and board members of faith-based nonprofits.

My chapter focuses on growing the heart of the giver, a topic about which I’ve spoken and written often since the publication in 2000 of Growing Givers’ Hearts: Treating Fundraising as Ministry.  In fact, my continuing interest in the interplay of fundraising and God’s work in individual lives is what got me started as a blogger. Now, just as I had hoped when I launched Generous Matters, my online musings will be fodder for words in print.


“Don’t you still believe what you’ve written about fundraising as ministry?” The question took me by surprise, coming on the heels of what I thought was a great presentation to a group of CEOs and board members of faith-based nonprofits. Apparently I hadn’t said what this long-time colleague had expected  me to say.

I’ll admit to a bruised ego. Yet this friend’s words were what I needed, even if not what I expected to hear. Thanks to his prodding, I’ve taken time to re-ground myself in the foundational assumptions of Growing Givers’ Hearts. It’s been a great way to start my writing project.

A lot has changed over the past decade. However, as a result of returning to the ideas that fueled my writing all those years ago, I can say with certainty that these things I still believe.

  • Any work based on Christian spiritual and moral values and which tries to embody and give witness to them, can be a ministry. This includes fundraising.
  • Any work or role to which persons feel themselves led and in which they feel themselves guided by the Holy Spirit, can be a calling or vocation. This includes the role of fundraiser.
  • If fundraisers who are themselves persons of faith, approach donors who are also persons of faith in ways that appeal to the best in the donors, touch donors at the level of faith, and reinforce donors’ experiences of grace, fundraisers can help donors  grow in faith through the act of giving. This is fundraising as ministry.
  • If everyone who has a part in raising funds for faith-based organizations (including board members) show as much concern for their donors’ spiritual growth as their organizations’ financial needs, everyone will help grow donors’ hearts. This is the shared reward of fundraising as ministry.

So thank you, friend, for asking if I still believe what I’ve written about fundraising as ministry. My answer is a resounding YES.

Question: Are you comfortable pairing the words fundraising and ministry? How do you feel about referring to fundraising as a calling — as Christian vocation?

What's your take on this topic?

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