Fundraising as a practice is as old as time itself, going back to biblical times as well as the days of the Greeks and Romans, the primary population groups in the first centuries AD.
The Bible is replete with counsel on giving, receiving and asking, and interestingly enough, some of today’s best practices and principles in the profession of fundraising reflect Biblical events and descriptions, such as when funds were raised for Solomon’s Temple.
One of the most beautiful references to giving and receiving is the text, “It’s more blessed to give than to receive.” Skeptics scoff at this, of course, but now this inspirational thought and saying has been proven by research to be true—people who are generous live longer, are healthier, and are happier!
So, why is fundraising sometimes STILL looked on as a menial and unpleasant task, as something rather unpleasant to talk about much less act on, and as an evil necessity?
Fundraising today is a reality for every organization or group. Church member giving behaviors and practices have changed in ways of giving, in demands for accountability, and in generosity in general. Fundraising builds up an organization in many ways, and these are also based on biblical principles while widely accepted in all sectors of the secular world. For example:
• We give people much satisfaction when they can be part of something worthwhile, if they can make a difference.
• Fundraising raises the quality of the organization because the stronger the organization, the more credible, the more successful, the better the fundraising.
• Fundraising lets us move beyond the basic, or the minimum. Sometimes fundraising means survival, or planning for a better future.
• Fundraising today is based on proven principles that work, and are adapted to organizations and situations. There are no “ten easy steps.” It’s a thoughtful, professional, well-planned activity.
• Fundraising brings people in a group or organization together. While there may be differences of opinion and discussion, resulting in negotiation, internal bonds are strengthened.
• Fundraising is a reality for faith-based organizations and churches today. We can no longer rest easy and think, “We’re a good church, or church school, or church organization, and the Lord will provide.”
• Fundraising also strengthens the spirituality of a church or group because it should be done not just professionally but prayerfully as well.
However, even today we still hear pastors and church leaders say, “So, where was I supposed to learn that?!” Just as he/she leads in stewardship education regarding tithe and systematic giving, the pastor needs to be the leader in any fundraising effort that moves beyond tithes and offerings and lead in any campaign. Nevertheless care should be taken that it’s a group and team effort and not just the pastor’s job.
For some time a course designed specifically for Adventist pastors, leaders, lay workers, and participants of any Adventist organization has been available. It has proven to be helpful and valuable, according to feedback. This course, available through the Adventist Learning Community, has now been revised and made more accessible.
The content has been checked, some tests questions have been revised, and the course is divided into five smaller courses so that the learner can take one or all of the courses and receive appropriate continuing education units. The topics have been grouped together in a logical manner so that they are well interrelated. The learner can click on just one or a few and select the course or courses as best fits their need. Within each course the learner can select modules that address subjects of present interest. Even with this flexibility, progressing sequentially through the five courses will provide the most comprehensive instruction for church fundraising. The courses also direct the learner to supplemental readings to enhance the instruction. “Open the ALC website (www.AdventistLearningcommunity.com) and search PSI to find the courses: Understanding and Implementing Fundraising: PSI Essential Principles and Practical Applications, Courses 1-5.”
In addition, anyone is invited to contact Philanthropic Service for Institutions (PSI), the NAD service department that does training and consulting for all organizations of the Adventist Church in North America at no cost or minimal charge. This course is designed specifically for the Church leader and pastor, as well as for any lay members who serve in congregational leadership roles or serve on fundraising committees.
While consulting and training are also available through PSI, this is an excellent foundational and entry point for providing your Church or church-managed organization with the funds needed.
Remember, it IS more blessed to give than to receive, and this course will help you serve as a leader in causing the blessings to happen.
By Dr. Lilya Wagner, CFRE, Director, PSI and Dr. Halvard Thomsen, retired pastor and administrator, and PSI consultant.
For more information about this, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.