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The Day I Stopped Fundraising By Zenet Maramara


Stop Fundraising!

I was a fundraiser for Asian Theological Seminary in Manila for ten years. I began that job at the time when the American-founded seminary began to nationalize its leadership and faculty after twenty years. It made sense that funding needed to be nationalized also and to start local fundraising.

I had no formal training because in the late 80’s institutional fundraising among Christian nonprofits was unheard of since funds flowed from overseas. There were no books on fundraising, no seminars, no training and no members or coaches.

I started as a one-women-shop. Although I enjoyed the varied activities of producing events, visiting donors, marketing and public relationship, the fundraising responsibility weighted heavy on my shoulders. I’d go to bed thinking about how I could raise the money for the seminary and I’d wake up in the morning with the same thoughts. After five years of doing the same things and engaging in the same fundraising strategies, I decided I needed to get formal training.

I went to Regent University in Virginia Beach to pursue a master’s in public relations and fundraising. There I encountered the son of the founder who I met in the Philippines when he visited my school. He knew that I was the development officer of my seminary and then he challenged me with this question, “Whose money are you fundraising, Zenet?? Isn’t it all God’s money?”

The simple realizations that God owns all the money and recourses I am pursing was life-changing for me. It transformed my life and my work in the next decades. I called that encounter my second conversion – the conversion to a stewardship mindset.

The mindset of a steward liberated me from owning the responsibility that belongs to God. If he is the owner of all things, he is also the provider. He will provide the resources needed to bring about his kingdom work. My responsibility is to be faithful with the calling and to do my work with excellence. That was very liberating for me as a development worker.

Prior to that conversion, fundraising was mostly transactional and it was timing. As I began to treat fundraising as a ministry, I moved from transactional fundraising to transformational fundraising. I wanted to set others free in terms of their relationship with money and resources. When I explain the simple truth that God owns all the wealth and we are merely stewards of our possessions, most people get it. The paradigm shift opens their eyes and they begin to treat their money as a trust from God.

I stopped fundraising that day. God transformed my thinking about his ownership and human stewardship. Instead of raising money, I strive to raise stewards who are rich towards God. Transformation takes time and we need patience and perseverance. I have learned both in my ministry of mobilizing Kingdom resources.

God is my chief fundraiser. He has already provided the resources needed to fund his work in the world.  We only need to continually seek him and follow him with obedience and joy. This is the true freedom of a steward.

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Dr. Zenet Maramara is the director of the MBA program at Asian Theological Seminary, Manila, Philippines.  She is also the president of the Christian Stewardship Association.

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