The spirituality of fundraising

Money matters: CMS Advocate John Harwood raises funds through JustGiving, and inset, spiritual writer Henri Nouwen, who said fundraising is a form of ministry. (Nouwen photo: Frank Hamilton / CC BY-SA)


BY HEATHER RAMSEY, CHURCH RELATIONS TEAM MANAGER

Spirituality. Fundraising. In the same sentence? Really? Spirituality – that’s about God and faith and worship; a way of life, choosing to follow Jesus. Fundraising, well, that’s about money…

Asking for money, or being asked for money. It’s a profession, requiring specific skills and expertise. Why do we need to do it, especially as people of faith? Why don’t we have more faith, simply pray that God would provide for our needs? Asking for funds is awkward, a bit embarrassing. Or is it?

Fundraising as a ministry

Indeed, God does and will provide for our needs. We ask him to give us our bread for each day and he gives in abundance – we live because he has loved us first and knows exactly what we need. So why should we ask for money? Why do we give, as a response to the asking?

Henri Nouwen, renowned in his lifetime as a professor, pastor and as author of books on the spiritual life, was convinced that spirituality and fundraising are bound closely together. In fact, he believed that, “Fundraising is first and foremost, a form of ministry… [It] is proclaiming what we believe in such a way that we offer other people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission.” [1]

Sharing a vision, sharing a cause

Nouwen’s vision for fundraising goes way beyond asking for pennies and pounds. It’s about participating together in mission, shared vision, growing relationship. The blend of confident asking and joyful giving will result in mutual blessing. “When those with money and those who need money share a mission, we see a central sign of new life in the spirit of Christ. We belong together in or work because Jesus has brought us together, and our fruitfulness depends on being connected with him.” [2]

We at Church Mission Society count it a privilege to be able to ask, to share the cause of mission and work to see God’s kingdom being extended around the world. We are also very blessed in receiving from faithful individuals and churches like you who are committed to partnership and give sacrificially of time, prayer and money.

People like CMS Advocate John Harwood. Inspired by Captain Tom’s fundraising success for the NHS, John decided to embark on his own fundraising mission, but to raise funds for CMS. He planned to take on 94 walks, one for every year of his life, between his home in Emsworth, Hampshire, and his church, St James, Emsworth – a total distance of 47 miles.

The continuing need

Speaking of his reasons for taking on the challenge, John, long since a CMS mission partner in Nigeria and Sierra Leone, said, “I now wish to raise £1,000 for the work of CMS. Why? Because I am convinced of the continuing need to support the Christian mission in the UK and world-wide.”

John is due to complete his walk this weekend and has raised more than £11,000, hugely surpassing his initial target. Visit his JustGiving page here. His courage and sense of slow, steady adventure caught more than 200 people’s imaginations and inspired them to support. And in the process, he has promoted awareness of CMS’s mission around the world. Not only that – perhaps his efforts have inspired a thought – ‘If John can do it, why can’t we?’

So – what do you think? We would love to hear about your experiences of fundraising, as advocates for mission in your church. Do Henri Nouwen’s principles resonate with you and your congregation? And can we support you or resource you to fundraise for mission in your church? Or, what advice would you give us as we look for ways to fund God’s mission through CMS in 2020? We’d love to hear from you. Email the team.

[1] Nouwen, H. (2010). A Spirituality of Fundraising, The Henri J Nouwen Spirituality Series. p.16
[2] Ibid. p. 22

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