I didn’t choose popular vocations. When I tell people within my own age bracket that I’m a minister, they are often weirded out. Adding I’m also a fundraiser prompts an audible “Eww”; once I got a full-on “Yuck!”
I love fundraising. But since raising funds full time, I’ve learned most people don’t. For many, inviting people to give is a dirty job we know someone has to do and we thank God it isn’t us. In my church circles, fundraising conjures images of smarmy, mansion-dwelling televangelists.
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We are rightfully suspect. Scandals often come down to greed. Money is indeed the root of many evils. But it’s also the root of much goodness.
Philanthropy comes from the Greek words “phil” (love) and “anthrōpos” (humankind) and literally means the “love of humankind.” It invites us to connect our passion and capacity to give with God’s spiritual call to do good. Philanthropy isn’t about wrenching money from those who don’t have enough; it’s an invitation to examine what matters most and act on our values. For me, both ministry and fundraising are deeply spiritual endeavours. Frankly, we need funds to create a better world.
I was already an ordained United Church minister for over 20 years when I began studying for and then took the exam to become a professional fundraiser. I have both accompanied families through births and deaths and prayed with faithful people as they considered what to do with their estate and whether to give a significant gift to an organization.
The common thread in all of this is that they cut to the heart of what matters; in that sacred space, we encounter the spirit.
Last November, I accepted a position as the Director of Development at Broadview. In every issue going forward, I will be reporting to those who support Broadview by giving to the Friends Fund. In this sacred space, I’ll share stories of how — thanks to your generosity and the amazing team at Broadview — we deepen perspectives, change lives and have an impact on communities. I’ll write about philanthropy in general too, encouraging you to view it in a spiritual light.
More on Broadview:
- This minister wants churches to radically rethink their finances
- The United Church needs to do a better job of attracting young adults
- How to cope with volunteer burnout at your church
Maybe my words will inspire you not only to make a gift to Broadview but to be less afraid to invite generosity for worthwhile causes you care about. I’d love it if the generosity catches. That’s why I do this work.
Thank you, friends, for your ongoing, generous support.
Rev. Trisha Elliott is Broadview’s Director of Development. She has been writing for Broadview and The United Church Observer for over two decades and is a Certified Fundraising Executive.
This letter first appeared in Broadview’s March 2023 issue with the title “Why I answered the spiritual call to be a fundraiser.”
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