Peter Harris and Rod Wilson, Keeping Faith in Fundraising (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2017).
What Christians believe should shape how Christians behave…at least that’s what I’ve always been taught. And yet, after 25 years of church ministry, I have often observed Christian leaders — myself included — fail to integrate faith and the mundane tasks of ministry. Peter Harris and Rod Wilson have witnessed that same failure by Christian leaders — themselves included — when it comes to raising money for ministry, so they wrote Keeping Faith in Fundraising.
The book is not a how-to manual, at least not if how-to is defined by maximal dollars raised through minimal effort. If you’re looking for that kind of book, look elsewhere. Or better, start with this book and then decide whether the maximal-dollar-minimal-effort approach is appropriate for Christian ministry.
Instead of writing that kind of how-to manual, Harris and Wilson turn to the apostle Paul for insight about how to get money Christianly, that is, in a way that is congruent with the gospel. They identify seven themes in 2 Corinthians 8–9 that are central to Christian philanthropic work. For each theme, they identify a guiding question to help Christian fundraisers recalibrate their work for Kingdom ends.
Here are the seven themes and guiding questions:
- Integration: “Are our Christian commitments and beliefs fully integrated into every aspect of our fundraising endeavors?”
- People: “In our work of raising funds, do we see people as being of much more value than the money they provide?”
- Work: “Do we position our fundraising work in the bigger story of God’s work in the world?”
- Success: “In the kingdom work of fundraising, is the financial outcome the only measure of success and failure?”
- Need: “If we emphasize the needs we are seeking to meet, do we risk negating God’s calling and priorities for both asker and giver?”
- Method: “Does an overemphasis on techniques in fundraising blind us to the reality that both askers and givers need to pay careful attention to the call of God in the process?”
- Money: “Do we understand money simply as a transaction in the fundraising process or as something transformative for all concerned?”
Keeping Faith in Fundraising is a short, nontechnical book. Harris and Wilson are mature Christian leaders with decades of fundraising experience. In many ways, their book raises more questions than it answers. Even so, I found their thoughtful approach to the topic helpful. Sometimes, it turns out, it’s more important to ask the right questions than to have ready-made answers, which is exactly what this little gem of a book does.
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P.P.S. This review is cross-posted at InfluenceMagazine.com.