The temptation to see major donors for what they can give is real. “We’ve got goals to hit, budgets to complete, after all.” It is a temptation we must resist.

Henri Nouwen tells a compelling story in his classic A Spirituality of Fundraising of a rich banker who wants to help Nouwen with money. The banker had been reading Nouwen’s books and knows that writers can’t possibly know anything about money. He wants to support more books by Nouwen. But what he really wants is a relationship with the author because Nouwen’s topics speak to the heart of the banker. Wisely, Nouwen and his assistant open a relationship with the banker that lasts for years and covers a multitude of topics in dialogue. A close relationship develops. Years go by. The banker dies. But the banker’s family continues to support Nouwen and his work.

When we see donors as people with hopes, dreams, problems, loneliness, and challenges, beyond their wealth screen score, something marvelous happens. We exchange the wealth we have – our organization’s service to others – with the strength the rich have in giving. The Kingdom comes. We minister to the needs of the wealthy. And if they so choose to partner with us to meet the needs of the materially poor. What a beautiful picture of the ministry of development.

Let’s go change the world!