Keeping faith in fundraising

Mark PetersenBook Reviews

In my world where faith and philanthropy intersect, there are a few scant resources to provide a coherent basis on which to financially collaborate for effective ministry among the Christian community.  Unfortunately this means both grantseekers and grantmakers operate within a mechanistic environment commonly called “moves management”.  Interactions with donors are tallied and annotated; the prevailing understanding suggests that up to seven touchpoints are required before a donor will release funds to the cause.  On the other side, donors react by constructing barriers to contact – either through becoming elusive or developing rigid and near-impenetrable application processes.  Systems created without people at the centre soon become burdensome.

Peter Harris and Rod Wilson suggest a different way forward.  Their latest book, Keeping Faith in Fundraising, is a collaborative effort that presents the new orientation that is required.  While the book is directed towards fundraising staff, Christian philanthropists can also learn much from these reflections.

The authors begin with their theological basis for this kinder model – an extensive review of 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 is the result.  Flowing out of this survey are themes which will guide those of us who raise or give money, led by guiding questions at the outset of each chapter.  Provocative questions include:

  • Are our Christian commitments and beliefs fully integrated into every aspect of our fundraising endeavours?
  • 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 calling and priorities for both asker and giver?

Each of the authors ends with their own story in fundraising.  They vulnerably share both high and low points which sets the stage for all of us to embrace a way out of what I’m calling the “industrial philanthropy complex”.

Wilson concludes, “For me, it has meant moving out of an industrial or manufacturing image where I can make something and be in control of that process, into more of an agricultural image where I can plant a seed with diligence and thoroughness but recognize that the growth and the harvest are beyond my control.”

Do you want your philanthropy or your fundraising revitalized?  Invest in this book and reconsider how you approach this topic.

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