February 18, 2016

"Why Did You Give?"

My friend and I finished a meal at a local pub. We looked up and our friendly waiter gave us two pieces of paper and asked if we would be willing to contribute to a local nonprofit. By contributing $5.00, we had the opportunity to write our name on the paper and have it displayed by the bar at the pub.

My friend immediately agreed and began filling out the sheet. This sparked my curiosity and I asked “What was it about the invitation that made you agree to give $5.00 to this organization that you have no previous ties to?”

My friend’s response “because I was invited to personally by our waiter. He’s been so nice to us and I felt a connection.” 

When thinking about what motivates a person to give, there are a number of factors including: context, generation, and previous experience. 

Yet, there is something particularly powerful when being personally invited to give as a way of belonging to something bigger.

Henri Nouwen writes in A Spirituality of Fundraising: 

“ I wonder how many churches realize that community is one of the greatest gifts they have to offer. If we ask for money, it means that we offer a new fellowship, a new way of belonging.”

This turns the idea of fundraising on its head a bit for me. Now the invitee is offering something in return---something beautiful. Something transformational. Perhaps even life giving. 

Where have you experienced this type of invitation before? Does your parish have a theology of giving? 

This Lent, as we prepare our way to Good Friday, who may we invite into a new way of belonging?

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