How do you succeed in fundraising for your mission, cause, or vocation? You’ve likely asked this question countless times. As a fundraiser, my life’s mission is to get as much money as possible into the hands of Catholics just like you who are doing great work.
I get my best inspiration for running successful campaigns from the saints. When we think of saints, we often forget that they at times had to fundraise. I recently came across the story of St John the Almsgiver. My good friend Nathan, who runs the fantastic website the Almoner, referred me to this saint.
St John is an excellent example of a saint achieving great results by using money.
Born in the 6th century, he entered religious life after his wife and child died. He eventually was elected bishop during the Byzantine era and then gained prominence in the West. He was an original patron of the order of St. John of the Hospital, the Hospitallers, which still exists today as the Knights of Malta.
Saint John the Almsgiver wasn’t shy about accumulating wealth and using it to spread the faith. In fact, he was so good at it that it has become his hallmark. I find this fascinating because John reached sainthood all the while using money to help him.
Here are four lessons you can learn from Saint John about how to raise funds and use money to further your mission.
Lesson #1 – Have a positive and inspiring attitude
Saint John was known to be amiable to all: advising, encouraging, assisting, acting as peacemaker, reconciling enemies, and striving to act virtuous in every moment.
By his positive attitude, he opened many doors, particularly around circles of influence and prominence. John became well known and respected by the leaders of the Byzantine empire, private individuals, the emperors, and the nobles and governors. This helped him spread the Catholic faith and raise funds.
Lesson #2 – Set the example and give generously
John recognized that he had to inspire others by his own life in order for them to get involved in his causes, particularly the St John Hospitaliers. To do so, he donated considerable amounts of time and money to causes of the Church. He also gave advice to people through stories from his own life but also by the lives of the saints and Scripture.
He would say about the martyrs of the Church,
‘If some men have given their own blood in the service of Christ, we ought to give of our possessions to the poor and needy, so that we may receive our recompense from the just rewarder, God.”
John was a strong believer in the phrase, “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows in blessings will also reap abundantly.” John sowed every day of his life and — as a result — was able to surround himself with money.
Lesson #3 – Be both confident and patient
John understood that we can be impatient, especially when it comes to asking for support from others. He, however, balanced that urge with the confidence that God will always provide by opening doors.
He knew that he could always make requests to the Lord, but also avoided being impatient for his prayers to be granted, by being ready to grant other people’s requests.
Instead of being focused solely on his mission, he quickly fulfilled the requests of others, remembering the words of our Lord, “The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.” [Matthew 7:2] and those of the prophet: “As you have done, so will it be done to you.” [Obadiah 1.15]
His patience and confidence resulted in gathering large groups of people and wealth around him.
Lesson #4 – Double your fundraising through humility
This lesson comes from the true story of John, who lost all his wealth just as Job did. John had bold plans for spreading the faith, and thought he was doing a great job by raising funds and distributing them. God, however, took everything away.
Instead of scolding God and his circumstances, John learned that being wealthy often boosts our ego and makes us haughty, even if it is for the greater glory of God. When this unexpected downturn happened, John took the opportunity to humble himself as he patiently endured it.
Scripture teaches us that poverty humbles a man, and King David recognized this truth when he said, “It was good for me to be afflicted, in order to learn Your statutes.” [Psalm 119:71]
Though John lost his wealth and could no longer help others, he recognized that God was the same during troubled times as He was in good times, and as He was with Job.
Therefore, John stayed faithful to the Lord.
And after a short time, God doubled John’s possessions.
Raising funds like a saint
St John the Almsgiver teaches us that accumulating wealth for your mission starts with you, rather than with hunting for donors. The way John behaved with others and followed Christ is what earned him his name: the Almsgiver. People who witnessed his dedication to his work, to his prayer life, and to others were then moved to give him money.
You can learn more about St John the Almsgiver by reading his biography at this link. His feast day is January 23rd.
Question: Question: What saint has inspired you the most in your fundraising? You can leave a comment by clicking here.