Book Review: ‘Imagining Abundance’

Imagining Abundance by Kerry Alys Robinson offers a personal account of the lessons learned when running major capital campaigns for Catholic universities and institutions.

The book focuses heavily on the practical side of fundraising in the Catholic context. Plus, it is less than 100 pages, so it’s a quick read, allowing you to move forward quickly.

Kerry, a director of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management and a Catholic fundraiser, offers a valuable look at what it takes to fundraise in the Catholic context.

I enjoyed reading this book because Kerry offers real life examples of how to deal with money and faith. Every recommendation is validated from a situation she experienced.

She also makes every effort to share practical advice to help move you go even further with your fundraising.

12 Strategies from Kerry Alys Robinson’s book Imagining Abundance

Here are 12 strategies I found helpful from reading Imagining Abundance. I’m confident these can help you too:

Everyone is called to be a giver. Central to Christianity is the conviction that one finds life by giving it first away. Therefore, remember that everyone, not just the wealthy, is called to be philanthropists. Meaning, don’t just look for major donors because that is not the Christian approach.

Be careful with your language. Eliciting generosity and responding generously deserve reverence, not disparagement. Come from a position of abundance, not scarcity.

Be aware of your values. We all have different approaches to money. Is it holy or sinful? Just recognizing the difference perspectives people have will help mitigate the ups and downs of fundraising.

Don’t separate fundraising from your mission. Do not exclude fundraising from the other parts of your mission because the divide will negatively impact everything you do. Recognize the value that fundraising brings, and even though challenging for many, you and your team must find a balance.

Don’t guilt trip people. Obligatory giving or giving out of guilt always signal a weak and unhelpful approach to fundraising. Avoid saying phrases like “we need … if not …”

Fear is the antithesis of faith. Yes, raising money can be scary, but don’t focus more on the fear than on the faith that raising funds will help you do even more with your mission.

Alms Book Fundraising

Be confident and positive. Do not give in to the negativity from critics even when it comes from smart, capable people whom you admire. A cynic is one who has given up but not yet shut up. On your side, don’t give in or give up.

Avoid negativity. Limit contact with negative people whenever possible. Again, fundraising is difficult enough.

Remember that money matters. People (and likely yourself) have a strong connection to money, and this can be an invitation to sacred and meaningful conversations.

Don’t dilute the importance of giving. Philanthropy and fundraising can be profound expressions of what is most deeply meaningful in life. Therefore, don’t dilute the subject or avoid the depth of these matters. Dive deep, especially with major donors.

The starting point of great fundraising is gratitude. Be grateful for people’s financial donations but just as important, be thankful for their time, presence, intellectual expertise, experience, talent, wisdom, compassion, mercy, stamina, joy, encouragement, and faith.

Donors are subjects, not objects. Like you, they want to contribute to something meaningful and life-giving and fruitful. Acknowledge these and treat people with care.

Kerry ends the book with a positive reflection of what’s possible, which is much needed in the Church today. Too often we can think that there is no money, no donors, and no opportunities. The reality is we must imagine abundance it exists.

Kerry encourages us to think big, be positive, and never give up.

Discussion question: What about you? What do you find to be the best strategy for being a fundraising in the Catholic context?

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