Summary of “A Spirituality of Fundraising” by Henri Nouwen

Fundraising as “a form of ministry” (3).

Rather than think of fundraising as a necessary but unpleasant activity to support our initiatives, Nouwen says that fundraising, when it is truly “grounded in prayer” (34) and “undertaken in gratitude” (34), should be seen as a “form of ministry” (3) in which we joyfully invite others to invest in something special for God with their money.

“As a form of ministry, fundraising is as spiritual as giving a sermon, entering a time of prayer, visiting the sick, or feeding the hungry” (6).

“When we approach fundraising in a spirit of gratitude, we do so knowing that God has already given us what we most need for life in abundance. Therefore our confidence in our mission and vision, and our freedom to love the person to whom we are talking about donating money, do not depend on how that person responds. In this way, gratitude allows us to approach a fund-raising meeting without grasping neediness and to leave it without resentment or dejection. Coming and going, we can remain secure in God’s love with our hearts set joyfully on the Kingdom” (35).

Fundraising as “a call to conversion” (4).

In this form of ministry, fundraising is “a call to conversion” (4) for both those who seek funds and those who have funds.

For those who seek funds: The opportunities for conversion relate to our fear of asking, our anxieties about being rejected or feeling humiliated when someone says “No,” and our uncharitable approach of using the wealthy for their money alone.

“If our security is totally in God, then we are free to ask for money. Only when we are free from money can we ask freely for others to give it. This is the conversion to which fundraising as ministry calls us” (23).

For those who have funds: The opportunities for conversion relate to our sense of power, influence, security and control that money gives us over our lives, the opportunity to place our trust in God instead (cf. Mt 6:19-21, Lk 16:13), and the gift of discovering that you are loved not because of your material wealth but because of your spiritual value in the eyes of God.

“Once we are prayerfully committed to placing our whole trust in God, and have become clear that we are concerned only for the Kingdom; once we have learned to love the rich for who they are rather than what they have; and once we believe that we have something of great value to give them, then we will have no trouble at all in asking someone for a large sum of money” (24).

Fundraising as “a new communion” (30).

As a form of ministry, fundraising must always seek to build real relationships. By asking for money within the context of a bold vision for God and His Church, you invite the other into communion with yourself and with God. In this new communion, the fundraiser is liberated to approach fundraising in the freedom of God’s love because we are all God’s beloved children. All that we have are truly “gifts to be received and shared” (35).

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