Fundraising with Faith: Crafting a Theology of Development

I am often asked how fundraising differs for Christian ministries from non-faith-based organizations.  The fundraising work is often not very different, but it should be. Just this last week, I was with an organization that is doing amazing work worldwide but is currently employing strategies to raise money that are worldly and inconsistent with the organization’s overall beliefs. This organization has been using pictures in their fundraising materials that are intentionally “desperate” to shock a donor into making a gift. While it is crucial to communicate the need your organization is attempting to solve, a better strategy would be to show images that offer dignity and are intentionally not manipulative. 

A way to accomplish a biblical worldview concerning fundraising is to have a Theology of Development. This isn’t merely a strategy; it’s a holistic approach that intertwines our deepest beliefs about God with our fundraising practices. Here are 8 points I think can be a starting place for beginning to form a Theology of Development for your organization: 

We believe…

1. God owns everything.

At the heart of our theology is the belief that God is the ultimate owner of all things. This perspective shifts our fundraising from a human-centered activity to a divine collaboration. When we recognize that we are merely stewards of God’s resources, our approach to asking for and utilizing funds becomes more responsible and spiritually aligned.

2. We were created in His Image.

God created us in His image to reflect His character. In fundraising, this means we are called to exhibit integrity, compassion, and generosity – qualities that mirror God’s nature. Our fundraising methods should, therefore, be transparent, ethical, and empathetic, aligning with these divine attributes.

3. There is life transformation through giving.

Giving is not just a transaction; it’s a transformation. It changes the giver and the receiver, reflecting God’s transformative work in the world. In our fundraising, we emphasize this transformative power, highlighting how each contribution brings change to the beneficiaries and the donors themselves.

4. God has more than enough to supply all our needs.

Acknowledging God’s limitless resources inspires faith and hope in our fundraising endeavors. This belief challenges the scarcity mindset, encouraging us to trust in God’s provision while we do our part in stewarding the resources wisely.

5. Giving is a form of worship.

Giving is a tangible expression of our gratitude and devotion to God. This elevates fundraising from a mere financial necessity to a spiritual practice, inviting donors to participate in a form of worship through their generosity.

6. The motives behind a gift matter more than the amount.

The heart behind the gift is more significant than the size of the donation. In our communication with potential donors, we stress the importance of the motive, ensuring that giving stems from a genuine desire to help and serve rather than guilt or obligation.

7. Giving is eternally significant.

What we do in the here and now has eternal implications. This belief instills a sense of purpose and urgency in our fundraising efforts, as we’re not merely raising funds for transient goals but for objectives that have lasting, eternal value.

8. There is a sense of urgency.

We understand the fleeting nature of time and approach fundraising with urgency and focus. The aim is not to rush or pressure our donors but to acknowledge the significant impact of timely resources in fulfilling God’s work on earth.

A Theology of Development is not just a theory; it’s a practice. By aligning our fundraising efforts with these theological principles, we ensure that our methods are effective and deeply rooted in our faith. In this way, our fundraising becomes more than just a means to an end; it becomes a reflection of our beliefs, an act of worship, and a testament to God’s provision and faithfulness.

I encourage you to stop and reflect on whether your own practices reflect what you believe about God and whether your organization has an official Theology of Development statement.

PS A great resource that has influenced my thinking for this blog post is a short devotional published by The National Christian Foundation called “10 Days of Generosity.” Here is a link to that publication

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