Fundraising doesn’t always have a stellar reputation. At best, some view it as an unpleasant means to get to the “real” spiritual work. At worst, it’s a “necessary evil.”
But Henri Nouwen writes in A Spirituality of Fundraising that “fundraising is, first and foremost, a form of ministry.”
In his book, Nouwen takes a fresh look at fundraising as a ministry in itself. He boils down assumptions, breaks apart myths, and reveals Biblical truths about stewardship and our relationship with money and others. Nouwen explains it better than we ever could, but fundraising is one of the most valuable tools for fulfilling the Great Commission.
Fundraising is an invitation to be part of a vision.
We all have spiritual and material gifts to give toward God’s mission. Often in ministry, God gives individuals or teams a distinct vision, calling, and purpose for his kingdom—yet they cannot carry it out alone. That’s why, Nouwen shares, fundraising is a way of announcing a vision and inviting other people into the mission. Fundraising is an opportunity for people to put their God-given resources at his disposal.
“Fundraising is proclaiming that we believe in such a way that we offer other people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission,” writes Nouwen. “Fundraising is precisely the opposite of begging. When we seek to raise funds we are not saying, ‘Please could you help us out because lately it’s been hard.’ Rather, we are declaring, ‘We have a vision that is amazing and exciting.’ We are inviting you to invest yourself through the resources that God has given you—your energy, your prayers, and your money—in this work to which God has called us.”
Fundraising is not a transaction. It’s a relationship.
Nouwen shares that money is a central reality of relationships with people, institutions, and causes—and that’s why fundraising always aims to create new, lasting relationships. As people join in a vision by offering their resources, they are entering into a new communion.
“If we ask for money, it means that we offer a new fellowship, a new brotherhood, a new sisterhood, a new way of belonging,” writes Nouwen. “We have something to offer—friendship, prayer, peace, love, fidelity, affection, ministry with those in need, and these things are so valuable that people are willing to make their resources available to sustain them.”
That’s why supporting a Resonate missionary always involves prayer first, then care, then funds. Nouwen notes that churches and organizations are uniquely equipped for these relationships because community is one of the greatest things they can offer.
Fundraising is grounded in prayer and gratitude.
Money is not only a central reality of relationships with others. Individuals and organizations also have their own relationships with money.
Nouwen writes that “money has something to do with that intimate place in our heart where we need security…many voices around and within us warn us of the danger of dependence. We fear being dependent on others because of the idea that dependence is a threat to our security.”
For this reason, fundraising as a ministry is grounded in prayer and undertaken in gratitude. Through prayer, we develop a constant awareness of God’s goodness and faithfulness. We experience a reorientation of our thoughts and feelings about ourselves and others.
“In prayer, we seek God’s voice and allow God’s word to penetrate our fear and resistance so that we can begin to hear what God wants us to know,” writes Nouwen. “And what God wants us to know is that before we think or do or accomplish anything, before we have much money or little money, the deepest truth of our human identity is this: ‘You are my beloved son. You are my beloved daughter. With you I am well pleased.’ (Luke 3:22).”
In gratitude, we can remain secure in God’s love and set our hearts on the kingdom.