Asking for Money

A Spirituality of Fundraising

Take away the many fears, suspicions, and doubts by which I prevent you from being my Lord, and give me the courage and freedom to appear naked and vulnerable in the light of your presence, confident in your unfathomable mercy.

from A Cry for Mercy

Free from Money

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 calls us.

…[M]any people have a hard time asking for money because money is a taboo subject. It is a taboo subject be­cause our own insecurities are connected with it, and so we are not free. We also are not free if we are jealous of the rich and envy their money. And we are not free if we feel anger towards those who have money, saying to ourselves, “I’m not so sure that they made all that money in an honest way.” When rich people make us jealous or angry, we re­veal that money in some way is still our master and that therefore we are not ready to ask for it.

The Means to Become

I am deeply concerned that we do not ask for money out of anger or jealousy, especial­ly when these feelings are well hidden behind polite words and a careful presentation of our request for funds. No matter how polished our approach is, when our asking comes from an­ger or jealousy we are not giv­ing the person the means to become a brother or sister. Rather, we put the person in a defen­sive position because he or she realizes that there is some kind of competi­tion going on. The offer to participate in our vision and mission is no longer for the kingdom. It no longer speaks in the name of God, in whom alone our security is secure.

Once we are prayerfully committed to placing our whole trust in God and have become clear that we are concerned only for the kingdom; once we have learned to love the rich for who they are rather than what they have; and once we believe that we have something of great value to give them, then we will have no trouble at all in asking someone for a large sum of money. We are free to ask for whatever we need with the confidence that we will get it.

When we truly enjoy God’s unlimited generosity, we will be grateful for what our brothers and sisters receive. Jealousy will simply have no place in our hearts.

from Bread for the Journey

Responding to No

That is what the gospel says: “Ask, and it will be given to you;…knock, and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7, NJB). If for some reason a person says “No,” we are free to respond gratefully. We can trust that the Spirit of Christ who is guiding us is also guiding that person. Perhaps her financial resources are more urgently needed elsewhere. Maybe he is not yet ready to make a real commitment. Perhaps we need to listen more deeply to the Spirit so that our asking will be clearer and our vision more attractive. Because we approach potential donors in the Spirit of Christ, when we ask them for money we can do so with an attitude and in an atmosphere of confident freedom. “Christ set us free, so that we should remain free” (Galatians 5:1, NJB).

Asking people for money is giving them the opportunity to put their resources at the disposal of the kingdom. To raise funds is to offer people the chance to invest what they have in the work of God. Whether they have much or little is not as important as the possibility of making their money available to God. When Jesus fed five thousand people with only five loaves of bread and two fish, he was showing us how God’s love can multiply the effects of our generosity (see Matthew 14:13-21).

God’s kingdom is the place of abundance where every generous act over­flows its original bounds and becomes part of the unbounded grace of God at work in the world (see 2 Corinthians 9:10-15).


Excerpted from A Spirituality of Fundraising by Henri Nouwen. John S. Mogabgab, Series Editor. ©2010 The Henri Nouwen Legacy Trust. Used by permission from Upper Room Books®. To order, phone 1.800.972.0433 or visit bookstore.upperroom.org.

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