Biblical Stewardship is the Key to Fundraising and Development in Christian Schools
By Bill High
Christian educators strive toward the mission of shaping young minds and raising them up to change the world. It is a noble and necessary mission. But do we have the same goals for our donors? Too often, fundraising is about the transaction. What if we viewed fundraising and development as an equally important ministry? A mission of shaping donors’ minds and raising them up to change the world?
If we focused on shaping donors’ minds as much as shaping students’ minds, our development work would become less about the transaction and more about the transformation. At The Signatry, a global Christian foundation, I have found that educating donors in biblical stewardship is the key to fundraising and development.
In this article, I will unpack five critical areas to help donors move from transaction to transformation. Understanding these five truths about biblical stewardship will lead donors beyond the donation and into a truly transformed life of radical generosity.
1. It’s all God’s. (He is the owner.)
Abraham Kuyper, a Dutch theologian and politician, wrote, “In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which the Christ, Who alone is sovereign, does not declare, ‘That is mine!’” Everything is God’s. In the book of Psalms, David writes, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers” (Ps. 24:1-2).
The earth is the Lord’s. He built it, and He owns it. This truth is foundational to everything else we share with our donors about generosity. If nothing is theirs in the first place, then their decisions on using what God has entrusted to them will look very different.
2. It’s not mine. (We’re stewards.)
When I was in high school, I worked for a small hole-in-the-wall hamburger joint—L.C.’s Hamburgers Etc. Sometimes the owner couldn’t be there to close down the place, so he’d ask me to close it down. This meant making sure all the other employees did their normal cleanup duties. But the biggest responsibility of all was to empty the cash register and walk it over to the bank for deposit in the night drop.
I considered it a great honor to be entrusted with this responsibility. Even though I saw large amounts of bills go into the bank bag, it never occurred to me that I should do anything other than deposit it. Why? Because it wasn’t my money. It wasn’t my restaurant. I was just an employee. I was a steward.
Most of us spend life wandering around with an incorrect job description: the owner. But in truth, we are only stewards. I never thought of doing whatever I wanted with that money bag when I managed the hamburger joint because it wasn’t mine. The same is true with the resources God has given us. Emphasize to your donors that if God owns everything, we are only stewarding it for a short time.
3. We are accountable.
In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the story of an owner who goes away on a long trip, leaving behind three servants, each with a different amount of money. To the first, he gives five talents; to the next, he gives two talents; and to the third, he gives one talent. He then leaves on his journey. While he is gone, the first two servants wisely invest their money. But the third servant digs a hole and buries the master’s money in the ground.
If that were the end of the story, there would be little consequence to how each servant acted, right? Think about it. If the master never returned, it would not matter what each servant did with the money. However, the story does not end there—the master returns, which is precisely Jesus’s point. When the master returns, each servant is held accountable for how he invested (or failed to invest) the money.
Jesus tells this story to illustrate the importance of being faithful with whatever God has given us, not just money. Romans 14:12 repeats the same idea: “So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Throughout Scripture, Jesus’s point holds true: We will be held accountable. Teach donors that because God owns everything and nothing is ours, we are held accountable for how we manage His possessions.
4. There is reward (and loss).
Many different Scripture passages address this idea of rewards: “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done” (Rev. 22:12).
“For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done” (Matt. 16:27).
“He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor” (1 Cor. 3:8).
On the one hand, these verses are sobering. They reflect the idea that what we do in this life matters and that God pays attention to what we do. But they should also be motivating. Clearly, Jesus is coming back, and He will reward those who have followed Him. Not all believers will have the same experience in heaven. While all who believe in Christ will get to experience the joy of heaven, some will have a far greater and richer experience. Some believers will be more faithful with what God gave them. They will receive a different reward.
5. Invest in eternity.
Do you remember the Enron scandal of 2001? At one point, Enron was a stock-market darling. The business seemed to be skyrocketing toward success, and the investors piled on. But eventually, the good times ended, and the stock price crashed after the disclosures of its poor accounting practices.
Imagine if someone came to you and said, “Would you like to invest in Enron stock?” Assuming you knew the accounting practices were fraudulent and the stock price would soon crash, would you invest? Of course, you wouldn’t. No one in their right mind would make that investment. You’d be crazy to invest in a company that you knew was going to fail. Jesus said it this way: “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30).
Every investor would jump at the promise of a hundredfold return. The investment in heaven is guaranteed. Explain to your donors that investing in the things of this earth is like investing in Enron stock. On the other hand, investing in heaven is a foolproof investment—it won’t rust, fade, or disappear.
In summary, remember to invest in educating your donors as much as educating your students. Teach your donors that everything belongs to God. They will be held accountable as stewards of someone else’s possessions, and God will reward them for their faithfulness. In the long run, living for eternity is the only smart investment they can make.
Bill High practiced law for twelve years before becoming the CEO of The Signatry. As CEO, he has spent over eighteen years helping families live simply and give generously. He specializes in coaching families, individual givers, and financial advisers regarding biblical generosity and family legacy. He and his wife, Brooke, have four children and three grandchildren. He can be found at billhigh.com.