The following is a continuation of the Almoner’s blog, a series of fictional letters from a parishioner to his parish priest about fundraising.
Dear Fr. Jacob,
Perhaps you are right.
In some ways, fundraising does sound a lot like begging. I understand that you don’t want to look a beggar because who does? I would not either. I think this is a key reason why most people prefer to sell things when fundraising rather than ask people directly for money. People feel more comfortable selling brownies than feeling like they’re begging.
I’m going to say something that might sting a little. I can say it because I’ve felt the pain myself. If you don’t like being a beggar, you may wish to examine your heart. You might have a bit of pride that tells you, “begging is beneath you.” Even more, beggars are beneath you.
I have shocking news for you: Jesus wants you to be a beggar.
Consider how Jesus rolled out the Kingdom of God. When Jesus sent out the disciples to proclaim the kingdom, did he give them chariots of fire to carry them or hosts of angels to warm up the crowd?
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No. Instead, Jesus said, “Don’t take gold, or silver, or copper for your belts, no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick.” (Matthew 10:9-10)
He told them to go as beggars, and it worked. In fact, it worked so well that the greatest military in human history tried for 300 years to crush this kingdom of beggars and finally decided it just had to convert.
You will notice that this is not a one-off or an accident. As if Jesus wanted to prove that his method worked, 1,200 years later, he led Saint Francis and Saint Dominic to found their orders on the same principles.
Why does it work? “Though he was rich, Jesus made himself poor so that through his poverty we might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9) Jesus has given you, me and everyone else this example to follow.
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Saving souls – one onion at a time
I have a friend, Brother Vincent, who is currently a Franciscan Friar in New York City. He spent a couple of years in Central America working with one of their apostolates. One of his jobs was to go to the marketplace every day and ask for bread from the vendors.
Brother Vincent told me that he would walk down the row of vegetable stands, asking for food for the love of God. The farmer, whose stall was at the end of the row, would see him coming and always find something to do so he wouldn’t have to answer him.
The farmer continued this habit for several months. Each time Brother Vincent would greet the farmer and ask gently for a gift for the love of God, the man would keep his back to him and ignore him.
Then one day, after Brother Vincent called upon him, the man stood up, turned around, picked up an onion and tossed it over. For the next couple of months, the man continued to do so, giving Brother Vincent an onion each time he saw him. He was still gruff, but now giving.
Then, some months later, the man finally smiled at Brother Vincent, reached down and gave him two onions. From that day forward, he responded very kindly to the brother’s requests.
Ride this donkey right into the Kingdom
When Jesus entered Jerusalem in triumph, he rode a donkey. For us, that donkey symbolizes humility. Taking on the rags of a beggar, like Christ, will transform your ministry in ways that you can’t possibly imagine.
Why? Because that donkey is supernatural.
Nathan, the Almoner
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Nathan Krupa writes about fundraising at https://thealmoner.com. He lives in Augusta, Georgia with his wife Mary and two sons. He has raised money by writing grants for Golden Harvest Food Bank (www.goldenharvest.org) for five years, and is a member of the Parish Council at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. He is also a member of the Alleluia Community, an ecumenical covenant community.
He writes a collection of letters called ‘The Almoner’s Blog’. In the old days, the almoner was the office in the church that asked for money to support charitable work with the poor.
Discussion Question: What is your biggest fear when fundraising?
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