Fearless Fundraising: Gratitude


“Fearless Fundraising” is a series on church fundraising by Charles LaFond, an Episcopal Priest, author and master potter living on a farm in New Mexico. Charles is the author of many books including Fearless Church Fundraising and now, Fearless Major Gifts: Inspiring Meaning-making. For more information, videos and model documents go to fearlesschurchfundraising.com.


My Three Pigs in a Blanket came recently with a rather substantial amount of whipped butter. That looks like ice cream but…it’s butter.


As a “gentleman of a certain age” I am finding that I need to eat with health in mind.  I need to eat broccoli and spinach, fish and kale.  But sometimes… on a Saturday morning after selling pots in the farmer’s market for hours, I just need a little pick-me-up, so I stop at my favorite Albuquerque diner and splurge a bit.  Anthony Bourdain…I miss you.


And this breakfast is a bi-annual favorite.  Three fluffy buttermilk pancakes, three thick, spicy European sausages.  And enough butter to induce heart failure.  I know.  It’ll kill you…but what a great way to go!


What do pancakes on a Saturday have to do with fundraising? A lot I think.


Sitting there at this American Breakfast Bonanza I was full of gratitude.  I don’t make much money and so, live a simple life.  I clip coupons and live with determined frugality.  There is not money for vacations or even retirement, but I can, twice a year, buy myself a favorite breakfast.


When it arrived, I simply stared at it.  My heart melted (as did the butter) and then, as Dr. Seuss would day my heart “grew three sizes!”  I knew it was food for a whole day (and a half…since I saved one of the blanketed-pigs for the next week along with a third of the pool-ball sized butter) and I knew that dinner would need to be kale and water and a carrot. But in that one, delicious moment, I was overwhelmed with gratitude.  Gratitude that I had $8.  Gratitude that I would eat this day.  Gratitude for the enjoyment of food and a body that can process it.  Gratitude that I live without warfare or illness or extreme poverty.  Gratitude that I can exercise (later.) Gratitude that my mug was full of good coffee and my glass with clean water.  Gratitude even for life!


What makes giving possible?  Only one thing.  Gratitude.  A church or non-profit can have the best stewardship or fundraising campaign, the slickest brochures, and the coolest videos explaining the best case-for-support ever!  But if a person, deciding about their philanthropy is not grateful for what they have, philanthropy will be rendered as effective as a cellphone without a charger.


This is why a good stewardship program in a church is only, ever as good as its formation program.  If you are forming humans to be great humans then gratitude will grow from them naturally.  But if church is just a park-the-car-attend-the-liturgy-with-a-mediocre-sermon-then-brunch; well, like the old saying goes, “you can put a bicycle in a garage, but that does not make it a car.”

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