Fundraising as Ministry
Pop Quiz: Fundraising is…
A) about asking for money.
B) about persuading people to write a check on the spot.
C) a ministry in which you invite someone of like-mind and heart to join in a life-changing, Christ-centric mission that is integral to God’s world-changing vision and purpose.
You don’t have to be a good test-taker to know C is the correct answer.
Fundraising is an unfortunate term – it puts the onus on the act of raising funds. Yet, we believe fundraising is a ministry in itself, not just a way to fund your ministry.
“It’s our job to cast the vision and it’s our job to love people, God will take care of the rest. And what we’ve seen has a billowing effect,” said Jim Stigman, Head of Institutional Advancement at Hope Academy, a panelist at our Ministry Equip training session.
A Spirituality of Fundraising
Dr. Ralph Gustafson, the Executive Minister of Church Relations at Bethel University presented on Henri Nouwen’s “A Spirituality of Fundraising,” at the first training in our summer fundraising series.
“People are excited and blessed by the opportunity to see God do new things in and through what they are a part of.”
Fundraising as a ministry includes proclamation, invitation and conversion.
- Proclamation– Fundraising needs to be a proclamation that our loving God is in our midst, that His Spirit is moving to accomplish this plan, and that we get to be participants with Him.
“People love to be a part of a movement. They love to be engaged in something that is making a difference in people’s lives, where they see the Spirit at work and moving. Fundraising as a ministry takes it from being something where we’re asking people for something and becomes the opportunity where we’re giving them something,” said Dr. Ralph Gustafson.
- Invitation – We don’t pursue, entice, or trick people to give. We invite them, and give them the opportunity to become a part of this movement that God is doing in our midst.
“We trust that our vision and mission will be our proof, because we are pursuing God’s mission and vision. We invite people to be a part of something much greater and much bigger than they can do alone. We invite because we want them to embrace the mission and vision for themselves,” said Dr. Gustafson.
“It’s not about asking for money, but about asking for people to consider being involved in the Kingdom work that each organization is doing,” said Peggy Benicke, Executive Director of Robbinsdale Women’s Center, a participant at the recent Ministry Equip training.
3. Conversion – Fundraising is a call to conversion, and this call comes to both those who seek funds and those who have funds. Whether we are asking for money or giving money, we are drawn together by God, who is about to do a new thing through our collaboration. (Isaiah 43:19 See, I am doing a new thing!)
“People are excited and blessed by the opportunity to see God do new things in and through what they are a part of. To be converted means to experience a deep shift in how we see, think and act; a shift in attention in which we set our minds on divine things,” said Dr. Gustafson.
To transform fundraising into a life-giving ministry Dr. Gustafson recommends focusing on:
If fundraising isn’t bathed in prayer, it will never become an active ministry.
Your relationship with God, others and yourself.
“If there isn’t relationship involved in your fundraising, you are missing the whole boat,” said Gustafson. “And your relationship with others needs to always exceed your desire to raise funds.”
“When I meet with our partners, people like to talk about how God is working in their lives, as well as what God is doing through our organization,” said Karen Berg-Johnson, Director of Leadership Giving at PULSE, and a panelist at this training seminar.
If fundraising isn’t bathed in prayer, it will never become an active ministry. Prayer is our acknowledgment of God’s power, presence and provision. Prayer is what links us in a tangible way to God’s Spirit as He works in and through us to minister.
“The big ask is for prayer, and in that prayerful dynamic you can better understand where God has your partners, where God has you, what the common goals are, and where God wants to take the conversation,” said Kurtis Smith, Director of Community Outreach at LINC Twin Cities.
We need to model generosity in our own lives and in our ministry and in our fundraising. The spirit of generosity allows us to live out the life of Christ, and modelling the true spirit of ministry.
Every donor we talk to, ought to feel a deep sense of gratitude. Gratitude flows from the recognition that who we are and what we have are gifts to be received and shared. Gratitude releases us from the bonds of obligation and prepares us to offer ourselves freely and fully for the work of God’s Kingdom.
One of the greatest gifts we offer in our efforts to raise money, is the gift of community. Our most basic need is to belong – the feeling that we are really a part of something is foundational to what our human needs are all about. When we ask people to be a partner with us in this ministry, we want them to feel that they’re a part of the community in a real sense, and feel like they belong.