How can we raise money with spiritual integrity? Anyone who wants their work in cultivating generosity to reflect the gospel needs to wrestle with seven key questions from Peter Harris and Rod Wilson’s book Keeping Faith in Fundraising.
Ministry takes money. So, there is no shame in encouraging others to give to support vital Christian works through fundraising. If you need convincing, just pick up your Bible and take another look at Paul’s exhortation regarding giving and generosity in the eighth and ninth chapters of 2 Corinthians.
Yet when Christians engage in the work of fundraising, it’s all too easy for us to get caught up in the game. Even when you’re raising money for a godly cause, and even if you can recite chapter and verse on the theology of stewardship and faithful giving, there’s a tendency to think of people as prospects, to see the goal as dollars not ministry, to view relationships strategically, and to let achieving the goal become everything.
Because seeking and offering funds is holistically and inherently connected with every expression of ministry and each Christian’s walk of faith, fundraising is a high calling not a necessary evil.
Keeping Faith in Fundraising (Eerdmans, 2017) by Peter Harris and Rod Wilson is a spiritual gut check for anyone involved in stewardship ministry or Christian fundraising. Grounded in a thoughtful exegesis of 2 Corinthians 8–9, and informed by the authors’ development work for Christian organizations, the book wrestles with what it means to raise money with spiritual integrity. It goes well beyond a Stewardship 101 understanding of faith and money to consider more subtle questions about the attitudes we bring when we ask others to give. They reflect on seven key questions that require the attention of anyone who wants their work in cultivating generosity to fully reflect of the gospel.
- Are our Christian commitments and beliefs fully integrated into every aspect of our fundraising endeavors?
- In our work of raising funds, do we see people as being of much more value than the money they provide?
- Do we position our fundraising work in the bigger story of God’s work in the world?
- In the kingdom work of fundraising, is the financial outcome the only measure of success and failure?
- If we emphasize the needs we are seeking to meet, do we risk negating God’s call and priorities for both asker and giver?
- Does an overemphasis on techniques in fundraising blind us to the reality that both askers and givers need to pay careful attention to God’s call in the process?
- Do we understand money simply as a transaction in the fundraising process or as something transformative for all concerned?
Too often, questions like these become excuses for pastors and other leaders seeking to avoid what they consider to be the distasteful and unseemly work of asking people to give. But Harris and Wilson know better. They understand that seeking and offering funds is holistically and inherently connected with every expression of ministry and each Christian’s walk of faith. And they know that when we honestly and faithfully grapple with these questions, our fundraising can be a high calling rather than a necessary evil.
Their work is summarized in a prayer, which reads in part: Grant us the capacity to do all our fundraising as we would all other aspects of life that reflect Christ.