Finding fun and ministry in fundraising

pushing_their_limits_13118If being expected to help raise funds for the ministry that you serve as CEO or as a board member sounds about as appealing as cleaning the toilet, join the club. Most folks don’t take to fundraising immediately. Many never get there.

Which is too bad, says Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, in a recent New York Times op-ed piece. Brooks writes:

. . . I have found that the real magic of fund-raising goes even deeper than temporary happiness or extra income. It creates meaning. Donors possess two disconnected commodities: material wealth and sincere convictions.

Alone, these commodities are difficult to combine. But fund-raisers facilitate an alchemy of virtue: They empower those with financial resources to convert the dross of their money into the gold of a better society (emphasis mine).

That’s what led Brooks to label fundraising as fun. This “alchemy of virtue” is also what makes fundraising a ministry for persons of faith.

In an email to which she attached Brooks’ article, my friend Carol Lytch, president of Lancaster (PA) Theological Seminary, gave a nod to his words with some of her own. She wrote:

I really agree with the analysis of the data that shows that giving increases one’s personal prosperity. As a sociologist, I see a logic in it: Giving affords a person the ability to be linked to something of importance and a cause larger than him/herself.That action expands a person’s sense of self, and that kind of person attracts resources from a wider sector.

Then there’s Luke 6;38:  “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

She’s no proponent of prosperity gospel, but like Brooks, Carol recognizes that “by providing opportunities to give, they [fundraisers] empower us to breathe more meaning into our lives.”

As I’ve written many times here at Generous Matters, when faith is in the picture, the goal of the fundraising program – and the fundraiser – should be twofold: to raise the dollars necessary to advance the work at hand and to encourage those who give to experience themselves as more fully part of the family of God’s children.

And that, my friends, beats cleaning toilets any day.

For more on fundraising as a joy-filled ministry, see:

The very reason for fundraising as ministry

And you thought fund-raisers just raised funds

Thumbs up to optimism


  1. Dale Melton says:

    I could not agree more with Dr. Lytch’s comments, as well as the Brooks article. If we “do” our job right or well, the donor is as transformed, if not more so, than the receiving organization. Ongoing and intentional stewardship, a crucial aspect of all we do, adds tremendously to making this a fun and invigorating ministry! Thanks, as always, Rebekah, for an inspiring blog entry.

    • Well said, Dale. Fundraising is a two-way ministry, benefiting both the recipient organization and the generous individual — if we do our job right. That’s the big IF.


  1. […] The second post is from a blog I subscribe to called Generous Matters.  In her post, Rebekah Basinger references Brooks’ post and adds some of her own words. […]

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