Jitters, generosity, and year-end giving

America’s nonprofits are in full ask mode as the clock runs down on 2013, and everyone, it seems, is feeling a little shaky. Despite amazing news out of Wall Street, the folks on Main Street aren’t so confident. Unemployment remains high across the United States and credit card debt has taken an up-tick in recent months.

sitting_on_news_text_reading_paper_400_clr_9470Throw Typhoon Haiyan and the massive relief effort into the mix and it’s no surprise that even the most optimistic of fundraisers are biting their nails.

There’s a lot of gloomy as we edge toward December. It’s not easy getting past the scarcity headlines.

Yet we know that when generous hearts are touched by a compelling message, by the possibility of being part of transformational ministry, amazing gifts can and do follow. Panic works as a fundraising strategy in the short-term, but an invitation into the promise of the organization is the surer route to sustained, significant support.

If ever there was a time for those of us who serve from the faith-based side of the house to pass along — to re-gift, if you well — the promise of God’s abundance, it’s now.


As Thom Jeavons and I wrote in Growing Givers’ Hearts: Treating Fundraising as Ministry, Christian fundraisers and organizations can, indeed must, talk about giving in the following terms:

We can talk about how giving can be an act of trust in the beneficence of God, in the abundance of God’s grace, and in the possibilities for making a better world when we cooperate in that grace. We can talk about how taking the risk of making a ‘stretch gift’ (when that is the right thing to do) can become the occasion to learn about how God sustains the faith. Henri Nouwen once said, ‘Every time I take a step in the direction of generosity, I know I am moving from fear to love.’ Christian fundraisers can offer people a chance to take that step.

As fundraisers for faith-based causes invite donors into a celebration of God’s abundance and faithfulness, hearts grow bigger, braver, and more generous. When that happens, scarcity doesn’t have a chance.


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