Senator of the Ukrainian Catholic University (Madison, USA)


Workshops for Christian and Jewish social organizations

Workshops for social service organizations: «Fundraising and finding partners»



Fundraising as a Ministry


Usually, I am giving talks on the “how-to” steps of fundraising.

Warning: The presentation today is not a practical talk.


Instead, my topic is about the basis model and understanding of fundraising. What I want to propose is that we see fundraising as a MINISTRY, especially a ministry to our individual donors.


What do I mean by that?


One part of that term “ministry” may seem obvious and familiar to you. If your organization is a school for orphans or a hospital, of course the entire organization is dedicated to serving orphans or sick people, and the development (fundraising) department is an essential part of that service. Even if the person writing grants or talking to donors doesn’t talk to orphans very often, still he is part of the ministry to orphans. I think we all agree on that.


But, I want to focus today on another group that we need to serve…..

that is to say, our donors. That may also seem obvious to you. If you are a successful non-profit, I’m sure your organization regularly reports to donors, answers their questions, hosts them when they come to visit, and even sends them occasional cards or gifts.


In these two ways, by writing proposals and by sending reports, non-profit organizations routinely serve recipients and donors.


Bit I want to ask: is that enough?


For many non-profits, “serving” (“служіння”) means “providing services” (“послуги”). But religious organizations are called to do more: not just to provide services but to be ministers reaching into hearts and hearing their needs and helping them with their inner needs.


Probably, your organization is already touching the hearts of some group: orphans or young people who need training. We are eager to find out their inner needs and to help them grow and heal and flourish. We understand that we are not just serving but also building relationships.


But -- and here is the heart of my message today – are we also reaching out to our donors in the same way? Are we ministering to our donors? Do we know their inner needs?





Of course, in Ukraine today, much of the funding for non-profits comes from grants from international organizations or government agencies. In these cases, it is not always easy to see the people behind the organizations and this type of grant is not my focus today. Rather, I am talking about individual donors. This sort of donor is becoming more common in Ukraine today and is the future of fundraising in Ukraine. It is also close to the theme of our entire social week: Help your Neighbor.


If we just see our donors as the faces of bank accounts, then that is not really ministry. We need to remember that our donors are also people with needs, with pains, with hopes and dreams.


For example, let’s consider a donor whose child died of cancer. She has a great pain because of that and she wants to make sure no other mother ever suffers as she did. But she is not a doctor and so she can’t fulfill her dream of helping other mothers. If a fundraiser can connect her with a hospital for children, or a doctor who has a cancer research program, then that fundraiser is truly ministering to her.


In this example, we see that fundraisers are like matchmakers. The hospital has the professional knowledge to solve the problem but not the resources; the donor has the financial means but not the knowledge. The fundraiser is involved in a ministry of relationships that connects people who have something they need and something to give. This is very much the theme of our conference this week: the cooperative movement and neighbors helping neighbors.


Who is the donor? The donor is actually our neighbor, a neighbor who has needs.

Every donor is a person with needs, with a dream — perhaps a dream that no one will be an orphan, or that the city streets will be filled with beautiful statues, or that Ukrainian women will have the skills they need to solve society’s problems.


And sometimes those needs are ordinary and not very heroic. For example, perhaps the donor is a businessman who has taken a lot from society but now understands that he is missing something and now has a desire to do something good. Or a person who feels no one respects him and wants to have fame and see his name on something public. But still these donors have needs and we can’t be true partners with them if we don’t understand their needs. Most of all, donors want personal relationships, to be connected with other people who have exciting projects.


Get to know your donor as a person, a person who wants to help and to be helped. This will be more successful for your fundraising and for your own personal satisfaction.


For Fundraising, “Help your Neighbor” means “help your donor”. So get to know your donors, find out their dreams and see if they match the dreams of your organization.