About 8 years ago, I had my first major donor request. At the time, I had no idea how to ask for a large sum of money. I just wanted to help my diocese raise funds… never imagining awkward moments such as these.
At any rate, the donation request went well, and the donor generously said yes.
But the experience left a strong impression on me. I wanted to learn a better way to ask for large donations.
I wanted to learn a Catholic way.
Enter Saint Clement of Alexandria. He gave me the insight that I was looking for, and I want to share them with you.
Video transcript and relevant links
In this short video, I’m going to share with you three tips from Saint Clement of Alexandria on how to fundraise for major donors. Hi, Brice Sokolowski, the founder of catholicfundraiser.net, a website that is completely dedicated to helping Catholics just like you with your fundraising.
Whether you are a lay apostolate, a religious order, a parish, a diocese, a school, a university, whatever it may be, even a hermit, you are in the right place.
Before we jump into the video talking about Saint Clement make sure that you jump over to my website catholicfundraiser.net and download the free book the Ten Commandments to Catholic Fundraising. These are ten things that I highly recommend that any Catholic should be doing with their fundraising because it’s helped thousands of Catholics and me. Plus, it is entirely free so make sure that you jump over the catholicfundraiser.net.
If you’re watching this either on my YouTube channel my website or my podcast, the link is going to be right below. Make sure that you jump over and get that free book. I will be looking at my notes so you can follow along on my website.
Saint Clement of Alexandria was a church father and smart guy from the third century. He founded the catechetical school in Alexandria Egypt, and he is also known for training origin who also is a fantastic brain theologian of the Catholic Church. So Saint Clement is not just anybody. He’s incredibly important in the Catholic Church, and I found an excellent document from him called which you can find on New Advent (a good source if you’re looking for anything from the Church Fathers. Go to newadvent.org).
Read St Clement’s letter, Who is the Rich Man That Shall Be Saved?
St Clement wrote this this letter called ‘Who is the rich man that shall be saved?’ He’s talking about rich people, and it’s a great topic because it’s also about major donor fundraising.
Reading this letter from him, I found three essential tips that I think are going to help you when it comes to finding major donors because let’s be honest, finding a major donor is difficult. But there is a Catholic approach to doing it, and Saint Clement gives us an insight on how you approach major donors. It’s just not a matter of doing what other fundraisers are doing: finding people based on their property size, their job, and go up and asking them. That is not the Catholic way, and Saint Clement tells us specifically this is not what you should be doing. Also, this is what I’m telling you shouldn’t be doing when it comes to fundraising. So here are three tips from Saint Clement himself on how you need to go about doing major donor fundraising.
The first thing that you should be doing is you need to remember that the rich are in a very very difficult position. Don’t think just about the money. They are in a very very difficult situation. I’m reading from Saint Clement himself in his article, and he says, “Perhaps the reason for salvation appearing more difficult to the rich and the poor man is not single but manifold.” So there are a whole lot of reasons, and one of the things is from a quote of Jesus, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man it is to enter heaven.” Being rich is not something that people should want, and if you meet somebody who is, the first thing that you should be thinking about is not to give me a donation.
You need to recognize step one this person is in a difficult situation. Even if they are a good, honest, solid Catholic, you have to acknowledge that they are in a tight, stressful situation, and recognize that there’s a lot of there’s a lot of pressure with being rich. There’s a lot of risk for them. So step one, you need to be doing that.
Step number two is you want to help them become poor in spirit. You need to help them detach from material objects. Well, you may respond by saying, “that’s why I’m asking them for money… so that way they can just give it to me.” That’s being poor in material things, but it’s not poor in spiritual things. Again I’m quoting Saint Clement, “but into the impure sold the grace of God finds no entrance.” So you have to remember that even if you want somebody to donate, they may have some attachment on material things. Therefore, it’s going to be hard even for God to be working with them. Sure it is okay if you’re asking for a donation by trying to get in there and ask for a gift. Remember that God is trying to get into their soul and help them. So you need to recognize that there is a bigger problem You need to make sure the person is becoming poor in spirit, too.
The third recommendation from Saint Clement is you need to bring those prospects, those major donors, into your mission. Don’t just ask. Saint Clement references Saint Matthew when Jesus visited his home and is surrounded by some very prominent people. Jesus does not ask them for money or to help him with his ministry. He’s listening to them. As that classic line says, the doctor comes not for the healthy but the sick. You need to make sure that you’re bringing them into the mission, telling them what you’re doing, and getting them involved. Sometimes volunteering is a perfect idea. You just want to get them involved which will help them become poor in spirit. You’re going to be recognizing that maybe they have some difficult situations in their lives that you can help them.
These are the steps that are going to help you get to the ask for that major donation because, as always, asking somebody for donation can and yes is difficult. There’s no way around it, but I think if you do these three recommendations from Saint Clement doing better situation when you do want to ask for that major donation. So I hope this has been helpful.
Question: What insight have you learned lately from a Church Father?
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