The current operating model of charity fundraising can work a little like the following:
Fundraisers seek out those with money then, often slightly awkwardly, ask these donors for money by marketing the good work their charity has done. The fundraiser tells stories that make an emotional connection with the donor, shares facts to convince them logically that the money will be put to good use and, if the sum involved is large, they invite their donors to exclusive social events to honour the significance of their gifts amongst their peers. The donor gives, the fundraiser thanks them, they feel valued and that feels good.
There’s nothing wrong with this process, but is there a more Christian way to think about these relationships?
I have been inspired by John Stott’s writings on The Grace of Giving and Henri Nouwen’s The Spirituality of Fundraising. Both have greatly influenced my thinking around the relationships in the grace of giving. I have been blessed to have been a donor, fundraiser, charity leader and recipient of life changing ministry. I now believe that three invitations are at the heart of a Christian perspective on the relationships involved in “giving”:
Invitation 1: Develop a new relationship with our wealth
Giving can be a sacred act that invites us into a new relationship with our wealth, the Christian ministry that captures our heart, and ultimately, God. “You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity.” (2 Corinthians 9:11)
Invitation 2: Engage and be enriched by the ministry
Raising support can be a profoundly sacred part of a Christian leader’s ministry: “God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance so that by always having enough of everything you may share abundantly in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 5:17). They invite us to support them with our time, treasure and talent. In return, we become intimately engaged and spiritually enriched by their ministry.
Invitation 3: Deepen our relationship with the Lord and so progress the building of His Kingdom
Each ministry we support is blessed with resources to nourish God’s people by inviting them to come to faith, to deepen their relationship with the Lord through His word or to overcome their hardships in Christian fellowship. “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
These three invitations create a connectedness, relationship and transformation in all of those involved. It means that everyone is a recipient in the economy of God’s grace. All are moving from the sense of worldly worry, fear and scarcity to glimpse the abounding fullness of God’s love.
Once the three invitations are accepted an intimate and private spiritual communion is established bringing enduring fellowship, prayer, gratitude and love. The donor disciple, Christian leader and people of God all come to realise the vision that God placed in their hearts as a community of brothers and sisters together in Christ.
Once invited to give, be ready to receive much much more than you gave!