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A Spirituality of Fundraising (Henri Nouwen Spirituality) Paperback – January 19, 2011
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About the Author
Henri Nouwen was an internationally renowned priest and author, respected professor, and beloved pastor who wrote over 40 books on the spiritual life. Nouwen enjoyed an impressive academic career with positions at the Menninger Clinic, Notre Dame University, the University of Nijmegen, and Yale University. In later life he was called to serve in L Arche Daybreak community, where people with developmental disabilities live with assistants. Henri Nouwen died in September 1996. John S. Mogabgab is a special projects editor at Upper Room Books and is the founding editor of Weavings: A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life.From 1975 to 1980 John served as Henri Nouwen s teaching, research, and editorial assistant at Yale Divinity School.
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My own battle with fundraising has seen some success and some notable failure. I was raised to believe that a decent person never asked anyone for money. Nouwen's little book turns that idea upside down.
Or, better said, rightside up.
For Nouwen, asking people to become generous and even sacrificial stewards is offering those people the gift of conversion. He means this in the deepest, process-oriented, open sense of the word. Seen this way, it is a service rendered. Ministry extended. I need this.
Nouwen starts strong:
'Fundraising is proclaiming what we believe in such a way that we offer other people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission. Fundraising is precisely the opposite of begging. When we seek to raise funds we are not saying, "Please, could you help us out because lately it's been hard." Rather, we are declaring, "We have a vision that is amazing and exciting. We are inviting you to invest yourself through the resources that God has given you—your energy, your prayers, and your money—in this work to which God has called us." Our invitation is clear and confident because we trust that our vision and mission are like "trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither" (Ps. 1:3).'
A winsome, God-fueled lightness of spirit pervades Nouwen's reflection on fundraising, a light-heartedness that is seldom evidenced on the subject. We are freed, in the best rather than the self-serving sense of the phrase, to be free as we seek funding.
Indeed, Nouwen writes about such in connection with our ultimate security:
'If our security is totally in God, then we are free to ask for money. Only when we are free from money can we ask freely for others to give it. This is the conversion to which fundraising as ministry call us.'
So it is not only the person receiving our request, but we ourselves who encounter the opportunity of conversion as we go about this work.
I have grown weary of fundraising *technique*. My soul longs for a gospel-grounded understanding of this otherwise distasteful task.
Nouwen provides it in A SPIRITUALITY OF FUNDRAISING, this reviewer's annual reading on the topic.
Pastors and ministry leaders can share these two booklets with their board members, staff and key volunteers--with confidence--because they are both short enough that people will actually read them!
Henri Nouwen gave a talk on the spirituality of fundraising that became a published booklet after his death. He writes, "Fundraising is as spiritual as giving a sermon, entering a time of prayer, visiting the sick, or feeding the hungry." Then he adds, "Fundraising is always a call to conversion."
Few understood people of wealth like Nouwen did. "Sometimes our concern for the poor," he writes, "may carry with it a prejudice against the rich." His chapter, "People Who Are Rich," is worth the price of this powerful little booklet.
This book is for all who are related in any way with a non-profit.