The Spirituality of Fundraising

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by Henri J. M. Nouwen (Upper Room Ministries and the Henri Nouwen Society, 2004)

This booklet is an edited transcription of a tape of an informal, heartfelt talk about fundraising. The speaker was Henri Nouwen—priest, author, and renowned professor. From the influence of Don McClanen and the Ministry of Money, Nouwen’s own view of fundraising had grown from perceiving it as a necessary evil to recognizing it as a form of ministry, ministry that builds inclusive community. He believed fundraising involves proclamation of both a vision and an opportunity to engage in mission, an invitation to do so, and spiritual conversion—for both givers and receivers.

His message was grounded in his own understanding of the spirituality of relationship—relationship between donor and receiver, relationship between givers and their money, and relationship between both donor and receiver with the mission for which the money is to be used. Both donor and fundraiser are involved in concretely helping the kingdom of God come to be.

He also made the point that until we have carefully examined our own relationship with money we will not be able to ask for it as effectively. Nouwen’s section on “People Who Are Rich” has priceless wisdom about alliances for kingdom work, rooted in relationship and care. Asking the wealthy to give also offers them something of great value. Nouwen’s invitation to see fundraising as ministry points to a spiritual communion immersed in prayer, gratitude, and a sense of hospitality. This must-read booklet can be ordered free from the HenriNouwen.org/ website. Click on “Fundraising Booklet” in the menu on the left.

Review by Barbara Fullerton, stewardship development coordinator for The United Church of Canada

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