What is the quickest way to lose friends and alienate people?
First, ask them for money. Second, ask them what they are doing to relieve a social issue (pick a really hot topic). Third, talk to them about Jesus. If you want never to see them again, I recommend doing all three at once.
Doing all three happens to be my daily job: fundraising for Catholic organizations. Fundraising is unpopular because it is at the crossroads of three emotionally charged topics: money, social issues, and faith.
In the past, I’d find that, periodically, people were both surprised and disappointed about the fact that I was asking for money. They questioned my integrity and challenged my commitment to the faith.
This bothered me until I realized these people were usually employed; they didn’t seem to mind getting paid (and sometimes paid very well) for their work at a company, firm or agency in the secular world doing secular tasks. They were under the impression, however, that work in the Catholic sector should be done for free.
This forced me to consider the value of fundraising for Catholic organizations. I became clearer about why asking for donations was not only acceptable but essential. Rather than feel guilty, I’m now convinced it’s important because of three reasons.
1. It increases your commitment
When you fundraise, your aim is to raise funds so you can be more involved in your work. You want to go from being a volunteer to being a full-time, committed activist living out your vocation.
Also, by receiving money for what you do, you and your colleagues can do Christ’s work more of the time: you show up every day. Volunteering can only ever be a part-time commitment that is shifted around other, higher priorities: full-time job, family, and other responsibilities.
And because you receive donations through the generosity of other people, you are more accountable for doing great work.
2. It improves your perspective and motivates you
When people speak about social issues, their responses may be driven by personal opinions and emotions. Perhaps they read something in the newspaper, chatted with a colleague or had a personal experience.
Until someone makes a commitment to actively and persistently learn and get involved in a movement or Catholic sphere, they are not entirely invested in the outcome. They don’t have much ‘skin in the game’.
Fundraising improves your commitment because it helps you stay fully engaged in the issues and facts you deal with daily. Your colleagues are likewise engaged because if your organization doesn’t raise money, none of you can feed your families or continue the great work you are doing. You have all risked your livelihoods because you care a great deal about the cause. This joint risk means you are even more motivated to grow your mission and make the organization and your Catholic mission a success. With this kind of sacrifice and motivation, God can work wonders.
3. It deepens your faith
For me, this is the most compelling reason of all: fundraising makes you even more committed to your faith because it allows you to make a greater impact.
Raising money provides you with the opportunity to share resources with those in need. The more you raise, the bigger effect you can have on society.
In fact, within the bounds of my vocation, I believe I have the moral obligation to place as many resources as possible into the hands of great Catholic organizations. Why? Because there are people in need, and I have the opportunity to help them.
Remember, money is not the root of all evil. St Paul says that the love of money is the root of all evil. (1 Timothy 6:10). When you fundraise, you don’t do it for the money in and of itself. You do it because you know that by having more funds, you can do more. I’m reminded of the parable of the talents (Matthew 35:14). We are rewarded by doing more with what is given to us.
Jesus himself wasn’t shy to talk about money or even ask for it. His focus was always on the person and the mission: continually transforming people and multiplying what he received.
Fundraising is not something we should apologize for. Yes, there are bad fundraisers who focus entirely on the money. What they are doing is not good for them, nor for their organizations, nor for us. Nor is it good for the world. What we need is more fundraising which is fully devoted to serving the Church and her mission.
Discussion question: How do you think fundraising is important to your Catholic mission?