September 2015: Fundraising–Opportunity or Necessary Evil?

eNews Masthead - Transforming Challenges
In this Issue

Opening Remarks

Many leaders in nonprofit or religious organizations share the same attitude toward fundraising:  it’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.  In this edition of Transforming Challenges,  we look at fundraising from a different perspective–that of Henri Nouwen.

At The Reid Group, we have a passion for helping leaders and organizations transform their challenges into opportunities to create a better world. One of the ways we do that is through this e-letter, Transforming Challenges. Is there someone you know who could benefit from receiving it? Forward this edition to them and encourage them to subscribe for themselves. They’ll thank you—and so do we!

The Reid Group News

  • We have completed two and one-half years of work in the Archdiocese of New York with the Making All Things New parish reorganization project.  The implementation of the 70+ parish mergers was effective August 1. We enjoyed our experience working with the people in the parishes and are grateful for Cardinal Dolan’s words of thanks:  The mergers went splendidly.  In large part this was due to the guidance and expertise provided by you and your staff.  Heartfelt gratitude!
  • Tom Reid and Greg Cascione will begin work next month in the Archdiocese of Winnipeg on a review of the Stewardship office and a plan for strengthening the Archdiocesan Appeal.
  • John Reid, Tom Reid and Karen Castellon will make a presentation at the Convocation of Priests in the Diocese of Trenton in mid-September as part of the Faith in Our Future parish & ministry strengthening project.
  • Lucien Roy and Maureen Gallagher have begun work with St. Dominic Savio parish in St. Louis on a parish and school planning project.
  • We want to say goodbye and express our appreciation for the service of Anne Skorski and Carol Guenther as Reid Group consultants.  Carol has begun work as Pastoral Associate at Sacred Heart Parish in Seattle and Anne is returning to a sales position in the Chicago area.

So as you look at your individual or organizational future, what are your challenges? Could you benefit from skilled support? Give us a call at 206-432-3565 or send us an e-mail to start transforming those challenges into opportunities.

The Reid Group teleseminar series

Are you ready for the 100 day dash? There are a little more than 100 days left in this fundraising calendar year. Are you ready to capitalize on Giving Tuesday, Thanksgiving and year-end opportunities to raise more funds for your organization? Could you and your fundraising team use some positive energy and practical resource support?

Get this and more by joining our next teleseminar:

Energizing Your Hundred Day Dash: 7 Elements of an Effective Fundraising Plan
September 16, 2015
4 pm ET / 3 pm CT / 2 pm MT / 1 pm PT

Host:  Tom Reid 


During this teleseminar practical resources will be offered to strengthen your fundraising plans. These will include:

  • an energizing practice for individuals and the team
  • suggestions for your Major Gift efforts
  • taking advantage of Giving Tuesday, Thanksgiving, and the year-end deadline opportunities

If there is a topic you would like to see us explore, send your suggestions to

Feature Focus

Fundraising:  Opportunity or Necessary Evil?

In a talk given in September 1992 entitled The Spirituality of Fund Raising, Henri Nouwen described his perspective on fundraising:

I want to say that fund raising, if you think about it from the perspective of the Gospel, is not a response to a crisis. Fund raising is first of all, a form of ministry. It is a way of announcing your vision and inviting other people into your vision with the resources that are available to them.

Nouwen acknowledged, however, that a lot of people in ministry-oriented or value-based organizations don’t see fundraising as an opportunity but rather as a necessary evil. So how do you make the shift in perspective to see fundraising as contributing to the mission of the organization? Nouwen suggested that you need to examine your own attitude about money:

I’m going to start talking about you and me who ask for money. Not talking about how to get money. I’m just asking about your relationship to money . . . It’s very important to realize that money is one of the greatest taboos around. Greater than sex, greater than religion. A lot of people say, ‘Don’t talk about religion, that’s my private business. Don’t talk about sex.’ But talking about money is even harder.

We often suggest in working with clients who have difficulty with fundraising that they construct a personal “Money Autobiography” using these questions as a starting point:

  • What attitude did your family have toward money?
  • What was your attitude toward money as a teenager?
  • How did your attitude or feelings shift at the different transition stages in your life?
  • How do you feel about your present financial state?
  • How has your approach to money and its uses been shaped by being: a woman? a man? a person of color? single? married? priest? religious?
  • How have your attitudes and behaviors been shaped by the church?

Fleshing out your own relationship with money and how it has shifted throughout your life can help you understand your attitude–positive or negative–toward fundraising. Nouwen suggests that the reason many people find it difficult to even talk about money, much less ask for it, is because their sense of security is based on having enough of it.

If your security is tied solely to your money, it’s understandable why you would be uncomfortable asking somebody else to give up a piece of their security base. Constructing your “money autobiography” can help you untether your sense of security from money. And, as Nouwen says, “When you are free from money, you can ask for it.”

If you are free from money, it is possible truly to see fundraising as an opportunity you are offering to potential donors, not a necessary evil done solely to keep your organization afloat. Fundraising becomes another way that you further your mission, by inviting a wider circle of people to support it.


The Art of Change: Faith, Vision and Prophetic Planning

Think about what your organization could do if the process of planning met the inevitability of change head-on—and it resulted in significant success.

bookcoverweb2Organizations large and small, religious and secular, for-profit and not-for-profit, successful and unsuccessful, go through change. John Reid and Maureen Gallagher of the Reid Group have been instrumental in helping many groups discover the power of Prophetic Planning. This book presents a complete overview with detailed information that any organization will find useful in understanding how to plan for change.

The Art of Change: Faith, Vision and Prophetic Planning, and its companion CD are now available from Liguori Publications as well as from

And that’s it for this month. Look for Transforming Challenges next month–and until then, have a good day and a great week.Kathy Johnson, Editor, Transforming Challenges
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