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What Are We Raising? By Steve Cummings


Christian Leader AllianceWhat are we raising, anyway?

by Steve Cummings ~

I cringe every time I see or hear the word “fundraising” in Christian circles. That’s not what I do. Anyone can fund-raise, ask for money, get a donor to write a check or twist a few arms along the way to get a major gift, complete a building project or meet an annual goal. We can tone it down by saying we’re “building relationships” towards a similar end, but if we are really honest with ourselves, isn’t it the same thing?

I am nowhere close to being an expert on the subject of raising money for God’s kingdom. Far from it. But I am an altruist, I will admit that. I have a burning desire to seek God on how He wants me to talk to His people to fund His work. In my eight years in this field, here’s what I’ve found to be true: it’s not about the outcomes, it’s about the journey. God already has the outcome determined so the pressure is off of me. He wants me to grow givers hearts to be generous toward Him! (Luke 12:21)

Two Systems

How can we truly create a climate for growing generous givers? Rather than viewing stewardship development as a “fund raising” program or an annual giving campaign, we integrate it throughout our campus culture.

The world teaches us to:

  1. Earn our money
  2. Enjoy it. (Usually we over-enjoy it, which lands us in debt.)
  3. Repay our debt from overspending
  4. Save for future needs once we’re out of debt
  5. Give, if and when anything is left

But God teaches us to manage our money by inverting the order after we’ve earned it:

  1. Give first
  2. Then save
  3. Repay
  4. Enjoy

Simply put, it’s about reordering ones priorities. The reality is that by prioritizing our use of money by God’s principles, we experience more peace, generosity, and financial freedom.

 Faith Raising, Not Fundraising

Multnomah doesn’t do fundraising. For us, it’s all about “faith raising.” Why? Because we believe God is primarily interested in growing our faith, not getting our money. We also believe that if the first happens, the second will naturally follow. That’s not to say we don’t put funding opportunities before our alumni and friends that they can give to.

Our goal is to be faithful to share how God is transforming the lives of our students. Only after showing this fruit do we invite them to exercise their faith through giving, according to their ability.

If you’ve ever been to Times Square in New York, you have personally witnessed how the barrage of messages bombard you and compete for one thing: your money. It’s all so overwhelming – striving after the almighty dollar.

The same often holds true in the non-profit world when we bombard our givers with a fire hydrant flow of emails, social media tweets and posts, fundraising events, direct mail, capital campaigns, cruises, etc. all geared at what? . . . meeting MY goal of raising money for MY organization.

If we say we believe God is our Fundraiser, yet our actions prove otherwise, what does that say to our givers? We want something from them.

At Multnomah we are creating a climate to grow givers to be generous and we go out of our way to let every student, faculty, staff, trustee, and giver know one thing:

 We don’t want something from you – we want something for you!

In order to do that we don’t fundraise at Multnomah – we faith raise. Guess what happens when we do that? The pressure is off us and squarely on the shoulders of God who has yet to let us down. Each year we watch Him work in helping us meet our annual goals.

Our desire is to grow fully mature followers of Jesus who are faithful stewards of His resources, invested in increasing His kingdom, and who through their giving experience His pleasure while storing up treasures in heaven. This kind of maturity requires a growth process.

Because stewardship is so woven into the fabric of our campus culture, we don’t need an annual kick in the pants “fund drive” to sustain giving and growth. Our institution’s culture of stewardship is about growing God’s people, not growing our budget.

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 Steve Cummings is Vice-President of Advancement at Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon.

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