The book by Henri Nouwen, A Spirituality of Fundraising, is often considered a classic and a reading requirement for anyone looking to raise funds.
No more than 60 pages, Henri condenses great reflections and necessary skills to be successful in fundraising within the Catholic context. By success, I (and he) refer to strengthening your mission, inspiring people around you, and reaching your fundraising target.
When I began fundraising, I approached it from a technical and secular angle because everything that I read and heard was in these contexts. Henri’s book was one of the first sources that I discovered which showed how to connect faith and fundraising.
Henri Nouwen constantly references to Scripture and champions that fundraising isn’t just about raising money. He sees it in the bigger picture, recommending fundraisers see their work as a ministry.
From this faith-focused approach, Henri helps you move forward quicker by building your confidence, clarifying your focus, and reaffirming that your work is an important part of your Catholic cause.
12 Recommendations from Henri Nouwen
There are many great takeaways by Henri Nouwen. Here are my top 12.
Fundraising is precisely the opposite of begging. Rather, you should think, “I have a vision that is amazing and exciting. I am inviting people to invest in my mission through the resources that God has given them – their energy, prayers, and money, in this work that God has called us to do.”
Be confident and clear with your invitation. This is because you trust that your mission and vision are like trees planted by streams of water that yield their fruit.
Make it more than just a request. When asking for donations, aim to convert people through your mission. Allow them to experience a profound shift in how you see, think, and act. I go into detail about this subject in my article, How to Keep an Authentic and Catholic Voice when Asking for Money
Invest people’s money if it is a match. Take people’s money and invest it in your vision only if it is good for their spiritual journey and health.
Be confident. If you lack confidence and are weak in your invitation, you will disconnect fundraising from your mission, and this is a serious risk.
Have a healthy relationship with money. You will never be able to ask for money if you do not know how you relate to money. Have a solid, clear, and healthy relationship with money. Don’t fear it.
Minister to the wealthy. Don’t look to rich people just for money because many of them are lonely and need as much ministering as poor people. You must minister to the rich from your place of wealth – the spiritual wealth you have inherited as a member of the Body of Christ.
Speak with the Holy Spirit. Approach potential donors in the Spirit of Christ when asking for money. By doing so, you do so with an attitude of confident freedom.
Show the opportunity. Asking for a donation is about giving people an opportunity to put their resources at the disposal of the kingdom.
Offer a community. Give your donors, potential donors, and followers a community to join because it is one of the greatest gifts that you have to offer. Just as someone has money to give to you, you have friendship, prayer, peace, love, fidelity, and affection to offer them.
Have a convincing plan. Show potential donors a strategic plan that convinces them that their money will help increase the productivity and success of your work. (I write about how to do this in the article, How to Plan for Fundraising Success
Be patient and execute. With the right environment and patient care, seeds can yield a great harvest, “thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:20)
Discussion question: How do you think we can best link spirituality and fundraising?
[Please leave a comment below to share with me and other Catholic fundraisers.]