My fundraising started to kick into high gear when I better understood how it connects with my faith. The word “faith” gets thrown around a lot and unfortunately, it loses its meaning. I took a close look to understand what faith means and what it does not mean.
The common phrase about faith when you fundraise is, “You just have to have faith, and it’ll all work out.” In everyday terms, we often hear, “I’m living on faith.”
What do these phrases mean? When someone says them, I also hear, “Just sit back and do not worry. What is supposed to happen, will happen.”
My conclusion is that people associate faith with not having to do much. This is entirely false. Just read what the Catechism says about the subject. With regards to fundraising, having faith means, if God wills it, people will donate. So you don’t have to spend lots of time fundraising because faith will take care of everything. Faith will magically make happen what you want. This approach has you believing more in magic than in faith.
How faith works in fundraising
I do not want to dive too deep into a theological lecture about faith, but I do have a few comments which I think will help you find a more Catholic approach with fundraising. Let’s first start with a Catholic definition of what faith actually is because it doesn’t mean to wait for things to magically appear out of nowhere.
Saint Paul defines faith in Hebrews 11:1 as
“the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.”
Faith is the belief in things we yet cannot see. In the context of fundraising, you can say that faith is believing that donors and donations exist even though you cannot see them. It’s not that they will magically appear. They are just not in front of you at this very moment.
Therefore, faith doesn’t mean that donors will show up one day. Faith means that they are out there. This is a small but important distinction.
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So when someone says you just need faith that you’ll receive donations, don’t think that donors will come with open checkbooks to your door. Faith means what you are looking for is out there. That’s it. It doesn’t mean donors and gifts will come to you. To have donations come to you, that’s where the work kicks in.
Have faith in God, not money
To have faith work in fundraising, you have to be crystal clear on what precisely you believe but cannot see. I am not talking just about money and donors. Money is bi-product of what you want. I am talking about having a clear understanding of what God is calling you to do.
If he wants you to take care of the homeless, does that mean God wants you to build a shelter? To take care of the sick, does that mean God wants you to build a hospital? To be a missionary, does that mean God wants you to build a network of people around the world?
Faith means getting clear on what you want. That’s step one.
Be clear on your mission.
Then, when you move forward, you have faith that God will surround you with the people that will support you. Those people start appearing in your life, and you stop them to say, “Hey, I want to talk to you.” With your eyes fixed on your vocation, you start recognizing the people along your path. It’s not that people appear out of nowhere. Nor is it that people appear after you ask. They show up because God wants you to succeed. You just have to keep your eyes open. This is how fundraising works. Fundraising happens when you are already doing what God wants you to do.
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Again, let me be clear. Fundraising is a tool to help. It’s not the tool that makes it happen. You don’t need money to start realizing your vocation, cause, or mission. You have to already be moving forward. As you move forward in faith, fundraising can help you to keep going.
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Again, a small distinction that has a tremendous impact. Fundraising is used to expand your reach, but it is never the catalyst or what keeps you afloat.
Grab a copy of my book, Alms: Your Definitive Guide to Catholic Fundraising, for even more ideas on how to move you forward.
How hope comes into play
Faith is also tied to hope. To go back to Saint Paul, he says that faith is the realization of what is hoped. Well, what do you hope for? Let’s open one of my favorite books, the catechism. I love being Catholic because everything is so clearly explained in the catechism. (If you don’t have one, I recommend purchasing one today.)
The Catechism states:
“Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit.”
Hope for me is that burning fire that keeps me going to pursue what I yet cannot see. Hope doesn’t come from me. It’s from God. When you are looking for those donors that you have not found yet, hope helps you keep looking. Fundraising deals with constant rejection. Sometimes you will get weeks, even months, of people saying no to your requests. Hope, however, keeps you going. It’s important to recognize that hope kicks in when we are striving for the right purpose.
If you desire to find people who believe in your work, who see what’s possible, and passionate about your cause, then hope helps you make the journey.
“With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones.” – Ephesians 6:18
Hope helps build your confidence that you will reach your goal. You can pair the word hope with perseverance. Each step of the way, hope is guiding you with how to inspire people. Hope doesn’t mean going from one lukewarm campaign after another, thinking the next one does better. I see this a lot. It’s a skewed version of hope. If you’re dragging your feet from one campaign to another, it means you evaluate your approach. I say this because the Holy Spirit is giving you the wisdom, knowledge, and guidance on how to improve.
“But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.” – Luke 8:15
Putting your faith in fundraising
My goal is not to show you how we can place faith in money. I want to move fundraising a bit closer to the truths of our faith. The challenge with fundraising is that it lives in its own bubble, separate from the virtues. This is the problem. You have to look at fundraising with the right perspective if you want to get better at it.
For more on this topic, check out my article on how to rethink fundraising altogether with respect to your Catholic faith.
When we talk about faith in the context of fundraising, it doesn’t help to say, “have faith that donations will come.” That’s not going to get you moving forward. If anything it’s going to drain your desire to move forward with your mission. Money is not a necessity of life. We should not be sitting around waiting for it to appear. What is necessary is for you to find what your faith is actually telling you to do. This means finding your vocation, otherwise known as the answer to, “What does God want me to do?”
When you fundraise, you can be too focused on the idea that money is what will move you forward. When this happens, you become blind to what God wants you to do and who he places in your life. Sometimes he places donors where we least expect it. Sometimes he gives us guidance when we aren’t looking. We are so fixated with receiving money that we aren’t aware of what’s happening around us. We don’t see the people God is placing in our lives.
Always remember that every donation you receive comes from the hands of someone. Therefore, keep your eyes and ears open at all times. Get to know people. Build your community. Most
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Therefore, flip your thinking on faith when it comes to fundraising. Start with getting clear with where God wants you to go. Then start walking in that direction. Don’t wait for the money to come. Just move forward. You don’t need money to start. Move forward and have faith that God will provide. As you move forward, watch who God places in your life.
My goal is that you look at faith through a different lens when you fundraise. This adjustment moves you closer to understand what God wants you to do and how fundraising can help. Here is my recommendation for how to do just that.
Pray – Take time to have clarity of your mission. Where does God want you to do? Read part three of the catechism, “Life in Christ,” and review all the footnotes. The footnotes are a great resource of wisdom to move forward with your mission. Journal your thoughts on how you see your life in Christ.
Pray – Answer the question: “What is it that I truly hope for?” Then, ask yourself how you will persevere in your mission and fundraising. Detail what your prayer life needs to be to support you. Find mentors who will give you confidence. Build a community of people around you. It’s important to have your hope be on your mission, not on finding donations.
Pray – Write your plan of action. What acts of charity will you complete for the people you meet? You don’t have to wait for someone to give you money to be charitable to them. Be the first in showing generosity. Charity helps you realize your faith and hope.
Ask – Take action with every person you meet. Whether it’s asking them to donate, volunteer, keep in touch, pray, or attend an event, take action to build the relationship. Keep a list of the people you meet. Grow this list and keep in touch with everyone. Remember, the most important relationship you will have is the one with Jesus. Keep him close to you.
Question: What could you do to have fundraising better fit within your Catholic faith?