Re-claiming a one-time commitment to fundraising as ministry

It’s been 15 years since the publication of Growing Givers’ Hearts: Treating Fundraising as Ministry and although I’ve tried to keep up with the organizations featured in the book, what I’ve heard has been mostly through the ministry grapevine. Until now, that is. A few days back, I was invited to assist the board of one of the six “exemplary organizations” from Growing Givers’ Hearts as they deal with sticky organizational issues, including a stalled fundraising program.


The past decade hasn’t been easy for this ministry, with two messy presidential transitions, complete turn-over three times in the development office, and five deficit budgets. As for the board, only a couple of the current members were around when my research partner and I stopped by back in 1999. Over the years and with all the changes, the language of fundraising as ministry has disappeared from the organizational lexicon.

Yet in explaining what it was about my consulting approach that caught her attention, the board chair referenced my commitment to growing givers’ hearts. Although unaware of her organization’s place in my book, she resonates with the idea of fundraising as a spiritual practice and believes that others on the board, including (or most especially) the fundraising adverse, will also.

For my part, I take the board chair’s enthusiasm as evidence that seeds sowed years back by a ministry-focused development team (including the CEO), although long dormant, have life in them still. With education, intentionality, and the board chair’s advocacy, I’m confident the organization and its fundraising program can again be turned in the direction of God at work in givers’ hearts.


I’m especially pleased that my return to the organization is through the boardroom. As I wrote in a chapter titled “Where Faith and Governance Meet: The Board’s Role in Growing Givers’ Heart,” board members are key in moving a faith-based nonprofit “away from the single-minded, culturally driven, time-bound obsession with this year’s bottom line, to a holistic, eternal view” that puts spiritual goals on par with financial. Specifically,

The board’s God-given role in fundraising is to give voice and witness to the organization’s commitment to growing givers’ hearts as the best way to grow the ministry. As board members grab hold of the amazing spiritual potential present in the fundraising program, they – both individually and as a group – will be better equipped to exercise faithful leadership on behalf of the organization they’ve been called to serve.

I look forward to being present as board members reclaim a once-held commitment to fundraising as ministry. And I will cheer from the sidelines as they put their old/new knowledge to work for the good of the ministry and of the friends that support it. With God’s help and the board’s leadership, this time around the desire to be part of growing givers’ hearts should stick.


  1. Such good stuff!! Thank you!

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