Keeping Faith in Fundraising
Peter Harris and Rod Wilson
Review by John Best
What is the subject?
The focus of this book is fundraising – in Christian ministry and as Christian ministry. The authors look at biblical foundations, pull out key principles, and share (in some detail) their personal journeys in fundraising.
Who are the authors?
Peter Harris is founder and president of A Rocha, an international Christian conservation organization. Rod Wilson served as president and professor at Regent College in Vancouver. Both men have a deep love for the Lord, and a lot of experience presenting to others opportunities to invest in God’s kingdom work.
Why this book?
In an era when we are bombarded with opportunities and causes to which we can give, resulting in donor fatigue, these authors provide helpful biblical groundwork (2 Corinthians 8 and 9), highlight important principles, and offer personal stories that frame Christian fundraising in a healthy way. Reinvesting the resources God has given us into his mission is both an act of obedient stewardship, and also exciting worship.
In my current ministry role, I relate regularly both to missionaries/mission agencies with many opportunities in ministry initiatives, and to church members who are eager to invest their resources in God’s work generously, faithfully, and wisely. This book gave me tools for relating with both.
Comment on the book’s theological perspective in light of the MB Confession of Faith
The MB Confession of Faith states: “The Bible teaches cheerful, sacrificial, and proportional giving through the church in grateful response to God’s goodness. Christians do not claim any of their possessions as their own, but manage all their resources, including money, time, abilities, and influence, in generous ways that give glory to God.” Keeping Faith in Fundraising is right in line with these principles, but speaks directly to the person inviting investment of these resources, rather than the person who is being invited to invest. If giving is an act of worship and stewardship, a Christian fundraiser can, in effect, view themselves as a worship leader.
“Philanthropy for Christians is first about people rather than about money, the possibility of relationship rather than resources. We must stand against anything that turns persons into wallets or friends into banks.”
This is a great book with no notable downsides, in my opinion. I happened to be reading it at the same time as I was preparing a talk for a fundraising missions banquet. It helped me shape the address I presented.
Who should read it?
I immediately purchased three more copies to give to friends in the following roles: Christian college president, CEO of a non-profit refugee service provider, and person working in financial development for a global mission agency. This would also be a helpful read for pastors who are teaching on stewardship, and for global missionaries who face the sometimes daunting task of raising personal financial support.
“It is our prayer that fundraising, this critical and important element of Christian work, can be lifted out of its shadowy corner and into a new and brighter place that more closely reflects what we believe about the God who is our creator and provider.”
“Is it too extreme to say that the calling of the donor to give and the spiritual impact of generosity on those who do so may have more significance in God’s economy than the need of the recipient?”
“If fundraising, like every other aspect of Christian life, needs to find itself ‘in Christ,’ then our passion for a deepening knowledge of God, the community, and creation needs to overrule the temptation to focus on financial success or trust in technique.”
“Like the apostle in his letter to the church at Corinth, we want to be fundraisers who are working in step with the living God who is building his kingdom, sometimes using our initiative and diligence to make that happen, and at other times not using them at all.”
[John Best serves as pastor of global ministries at Willingdon Church, Burnaby, B.C.