Is there a difference between fundraising and stewardship?  Or are they the same thing? It’s a good question!

It reminds me of a church annual meeting I was at some years ago. During the usual discussion around the church’s proposed budget, a member of the church council, concerned over the anticipated revenue for the coming year asked: “Do any of you have any “fundraising ideas”?” Another member raised his hand and said,

Really, in a Christian context, we should not use the term “fundraising” but rather “stewardship.” We are caretakers of all that we have been blessed with, and that, in return, we share those blessings with others.

The council person paused, then said, “Thank you for that,” looked at other attendees and continued asking, “Does anyone else have any fundraising ideas?” I don’t think he got it!

Yes, there is a difference! And what the council member, and many others, don’t realize is this:

Fundraising is something we do in order to “get something” or “get something done.”  I think of the youth group raising money for a youth gathering, or the ball team for new uniforms. That to me is fundraising.  It’s a good thing to do and is certainly worthwhile.  Many of us have supported Boy Scout bottle drive or bought cookies from the Girl Guides.

But stewardship recognizes that what we have belongs to God!

  • Psalm 24 reminds us the “The earth is the Lord’s, and all that is in it”
  • “All that we have is Thine alone, a trust O Lord from Thee,” goes the old hymn

Both of these quotations remind us that we are to be responsible caretakers of everything with which we have been entrusted – our time, our gifts and talents, and our financial resources – and that these gifts are intended for our use and benefit.

God calls us to respond with gratitude for these blessings, to return a first portion of these gifts and resources to help others and further God’s mission here on earth.  We are called to bless others by willingly sharing the gifts and resources with which we have been blessed. This is stewardship. While counter-intuitive to our materialistic culture, there is a real joy that comes from stewardship, of using what God has given us, of sharing our time, skills and abilities, and treasures to bless others.