September 26, 2021 Essay: The Joy of Giving
A quiz: Rank these three gifts in order of value:
- A $50,000 check
- An envelope of loose change from a young boy’s piggy bank.
- A $10 bill from a woman on a fixed income
Answer: All of these gifts are holy because they were given with love.
I had never pondered the spirituality of fundraising until late March of 2020—the darkest days of the pandemic. We were all home in quarantine and the Church was shut down. The capital campaign was suspended. I worried about the future and wondered how we would recover. Would we be able to build that elevator? Fast forward eighteen months later. The elevator is working; we exceeded our goal and a record number of parishioners made gifts to the campaign. Many of them were accompanied by words of gratitude to their beloved parish.
In Henri J.M. Nouwen’s short but profound book A Spirituality of Fundraising, he writes that “fundraising is a spiritual, gospel-based ministry; a way of announcing our vision and inviting other people into our mission. Vision brings together needs and resources to meet those needs (Acts 9:1-19). In fundraising as ministry, we are inviting people into a new way of relating to their resources. By giving people a spiritual vision, we want them to experience that they will in fact benefit by making their resources available to us.”
To the giver, Nouwen affirms that “you won’t become poorer, you will become richer by giving. You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity (2 Cor.9-11). Those who need money and those who can give money meet on the common ground of God’s love. God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance. So that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work”. The wise Nouwen encourages the fundraiser and the donor to embrace giving with humility and joy. The gifts and graces will follow.
Let me simplify Nouwen’s message: It is an honor to ask you to support the Church of St. Ignatius with your resources, your time, and your talents. Your gratitude and joy are abundant; you are constantly answering yes—How can we help? You give generously; you volunteer; you participate. We are grateful: thank you.
For all of you who are involved with charitable giving as a solicitor or a donor, I would like to share these wise words from Henri Nouwen:
“From beginning to end, fundraising as ministry is grounded in prayer and undertaken in gratitude. Prayer is the radical starting point of fundraising because in prayer we slowly experience a reorientation of all our thoughts and feelings about ourselves and others. To pray is to desire to know more fully the truth that sets us free (John 8:32). Prayer is radical because uncovers the deepest roots of our identity in God. In prayer, we learn to trust that God can work fruitfully through us no matter where we are or who we are with. The more we touch the intimate love of God which creates, sustains, and guides us, the more we recognize the multitude of fruits that come forth from that love. As our prayer deepens into a constant awareness of God’s goodness, the spirit of gratitude grows within us. Gratitude flows from the recognition that what we have are gifts to be received and shared.”
– Erin Pick, Director of Development