Advancement Associates extends to the Henri Nouwen Society thanks for allowing us to print excerpts from Henri Nouwen’s thoughtful booklet The Spirituality of Fund-Raising. Visit www.HenriNouwen.org to order a free copy of The Spirituality of Fund-Raising.
Fund-raising is, first and foremost, a form of ministry. It is a way of announcing our vision and inviting other people into our mission. Vision and mission are so central to the life of God’s people that without vision we perish and without mission we lose our way.
Fund-raising is precisely the opposite of begging. We are not saying, Please, could you help us out because lately it’s been hard. Rather, We are inviting you to invest yourself through the resources that God has given you in this work to which God has called us.
Fund-raising is also always a call to conversion . Whether we are asking for money or giving money we are drawn together by God, who is about to do a new thing through our collaboration.
By giving people a spiritual vision, we want them to experience that they will in fact benefit by making their resources available to us.
[I]f fund-raising as ministry invites those with money to a new relationship with their wealth, it also calls us to be converted in relation to our needs.
When those with money and those who need money share a mission, we see a central sign of new life in the Spirit of Christ.
When working with a congregation, AAI first provides an overview of the capital campaign and introduces key campaign principles in the context of fundraising as ministry. Next, we assess the congregation’s readiness for such a highly organized fundraising effort. Based on this assessment, AAI can enter the process at one of several points, described below.
Visioning. Often, AAI’s first official role is to engage leaders of the congregation in visioning. This kind of exercise typically takes place during a weekend retreat and asks participants to reflect on the following questions:
- In light of our mission, what are the opportunities and challenges presented by our surrounding environment?
- In light of our mission, opportunities and challenges
- What program priorities should we establish and pursue at this time?
- What priorities should we establish for our facilities?
- What financial resources are required to meet our priorities for program and facilities?
Campaign feasibility study. A feasibility study helps determine the level of support for the goals identified during the visioning process and, therefore, the probability of success for a proposed capital campaign and building program. The feasibility study includes a series of both personal and mail interviews conducted by AAI staff; interviewees are shown a case summary of the project at hand and a gift table. AAI compiles results into a report and makes a recommendation regarding the campaign goal to congregational leaders and/or the congregation as a whole. A feasibility study takes approximately two months to complete.
Campaign. Congregations can also enlist AAI’s help with the campaign itself. Campaigns are typically completed within four months, during which campaign leaders receive regular consultation and unlimited access to the consultant(s). Depending on the needs and desires of the congregation, AAI’s involvement can also include:
- creating an action plan that lists specific responsibilities for the various persons involved in campaign leadership; outlines how these persons report to and interact with one another; and sets a timeline for implementation of various campaign steps
- developing any necessary communications materials
- training of key personnel
- attendance and leadership at campaign meetings
While many professional firms offer campaign services similar to the four just mentioned, AAI encourages five additional practices that distinguish our approach from others’:
- Our philosophy of “fundraising as ministry” seeks to incorporate the capital campaign into the life and worship of congregation.
- We provide actual templates of the communication materials the congregation will use during the campaign.
- We emphasize personal solicitation and direct requests for campaign commitments.
- We utilize mail and telephone solicitation for distant members and friends.
- Three-year pledge commitments give donors the flexibility they may need to make the most faithful gift possible.