A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a fundraising workshop held at the Holy Name Passionist Retreat Center in Houston, TX. Houston: where houses (and driveways) are ginormous and small, earth-colored lizards act like they own the place (because they do, because they are ubiquitous, and they are probably already sitting on the bench you want to sit on. Too bad.).
During the workshop, which was led by the the brilliant team from the For Impact model of fundraising, we spent a bit of time learning about the “spirituality of fundraising.” Henri Nouwen wrote an excellent book of the same name. For Nouwen, fundraising is not a transaction, but an entering into relationship. It is a dance, a partnership, a give and take, of mutually transformative opportunity. One person has a mission; another has the opportunity to bring the mission to life and participate in its fruition. Together, both people walk toward a goal and share its outcomes. At the end, you give thanks to God for the cycle of ask, receive, create, and you start again.
For Impact as a model, however, is entirely practical (and this I like). There are a ton of incredible tips and pointers and behaviors we learned during the training, and I will share here two because of how I see them connected to the spiritual life.
Don’t make a decision for the donor. By this, we mean, do not assume a.) they cannot give because, for example, they give X amount somewhere else; or we assume, “they aren’t the giving type” (whatever that means); we know their bills are so high, so there’s no way they can give; they already have a favorite charity they are devoted to; and on and on.
Now, when contemplating the idea that God wants so much more for us than we can imagine (see theme of previous post), these two points are marvelous things to meditate upon. For God: do not make a decision for Him. Do not assume that he cannot give you as greatly as you need and desire, and so there is a necessity to settle - however that looks, and whatever it means for you in your life. Whether that’s in relationships, a desired career, a desired number of kids, a number of books sold or whatever the case is. How easily we assume that God gives in the small ways we can conceive of, and not on the grand, abundant scale in which he truly operates.
And returning to the point about prayer and abundance - just ask! Come to God in your prayer time with an ask, and ask again, and again. God does not hold out on us during prayer time to play games with us. He also does not ever tire of hearing from us. There is a story - if I can find it, I will share it - that St. Ignatius proudly said that during prayer, he came to Jesus with his arms out, asking like a spoiled child - and he meant it in the best way possible. Believe your Father hears you, and persist, and know that he wants to hear from you. Pray with hope, no matter how long it takes.
Don’t decide on God’s behalf how abundant he will be with you. And just ask.
By the way, even if you don’t see yourself as directly involved in any sort of fundraising, and therefore don’t need to understand, for example, the art of the ask - well, that’s not quite how it is, and you don’t get off that easily, you know. There are so many causes which need and deserve support, and there is no reason not to try your hand in aiding them. I imagine you know a ministry, a specific need, a neighborhood drive, a poor school doing great work, an intentional community in need of support. Why wouldn’t you be one to help? God put you on this planet after all, didn’t He? Being a part of the human family, and individually capable of effecting great change, it is not possible to opt out. If you do, the world misses your gifts. Here, now, we talk not just of asking or donating money, but of offering one’s non-monetary gifts, too. Invite a friend, write a poem, lead a prayer night, roll up your sleeves, rake leaves, can preserves, read a book to an elderly friend, knit a blanket, share a message, and on and on. Be the leaven in the movement that moves your heart. And believe in God’s abundance in every step of your life.