Mr. Louie Baclagon's message at the commencement exercises of the Asian Theological Seminary last November 19, 2010.
"Congratulations ATS students and well done! I’m really honored by your invitation. More so because you’ve completed a course which I wish was available to me 10 years ago. I knew nothing about fundraising when I was suddenly thrust into that world. It’s been an exciting journey since but first, let me introduce myself to you again…
Good evening! I’m Louie Baclagon, and I’m an accidental fundraiser.
I’m an accidental fundraiser because…have you heard a father say to his son:“Son, I hope you’ll become a great fundraiser some day!”? I haven’t and there’s a reason why – fundraising isn’t cool (at least for me). If you’ll research the history of fundraising, some sources even trace its roots to the “art” of begging. And that’s how many people view fundraising – a glamorized form of begging.
I know better now but until I became one, I never wanted to become a fundraiser. All I wanted to be is a successful writer that’s why I took up journalism and started my career as a newspaper reporter. I wanted to be a writer because I believe in the power of great stories and ideas to transform the world.
But life is full of “accidents” that bring us to where we are now – in this roomful of fundraising course graduates – in an occasion to formally send them off “into the world” – with yours truly as a speaker. I consider being here in front of you as a great responsibility because I believe that fundraising is a spiritual ministry. Fundraising isn’t just about raising money – it’s more about advancing God’s Kingdom by practicing the profession in its noblest form.
I’m sure you’re already familiar with a lot of fundraising concepts and principles. But allow me to share with you, if not to reiterate to you, what I believe is fundraising’s raison d’etre or the purpose that justifies its existence. If marketing is important to society because it enables people to have access and choices to the various solutions to their problems, then fundraising is even more because it empowers people to enjoy the blessings of giving. And I don’t mean blessings just for those who receive, but more so for those who give. For isn’t that what the Bible says: “It is more blessed to give than to receive”?
Let me therefore cite three of these blessings which God has given us – Christian fundraisers – the privilege to be His channels of:
Namely they are:
# 1 – The blessing of satisfaction,
# 2 – The blessing of eternal values and,
# 3 – The blessing of inspiration.
First, the blessing of satisfaction.
Do you know that people feel sensations similar to pleasurable sensations every time they give? And that this has been proven by scientists when they put electrodes on people’s heads to see how their brains react when they do selfless acts? A US study published a few years ago also concluded this – that people who give as little as $5 a month to charities, or the equivalent of around P200 a month, are a lot happier, healthier and live longer than those who don’t.
I believe that we ought to make donors happy because the Lord wired people to feel happy whenever they give to encourage to them keep on giving. Feeling good for doing good is conscience working in reverse. So in 2 Corinthians 9: 7 – the verse which says the Lord loves cheerful giver – it isn’t just saying that all of us should give willingly. It’s also telling us – fundraisers who ask people to give – to spread God’s love by enabling people to give cheerfully.
The second is the blessing of eternal values.
Even though fundraising mainly seeks to address the temporal, the values it communicates like love, faith, hope, grace, mercy, forgiveness, patience, generosity, kindness, sacrifice, peace, justice, righteousness, etc. are eternal. Whenever fundraisers communicate those values effectively, people pause from their worldly pursuits of pleasure, comfort, wealth, prestige, power and security to consider what’s really important. Fundraisers should therefore bring people closer to Jesus by communicating eternal truths summed up by Matthew 16: 25, the verse where our Lord stated: “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”
And third is the blessing of inspiration.
Lao Tzu, the great Chinese philosopher, said: “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” That for me is an excellent description of inspiration – having the strength and courage to do selfless acts because of love. I’m sure those who are in love or have been in loved will agree. And that’s the kind of inspiration excellent fundraising sows in the hearts of men and women. Christian fundraisers who are motivated by the love of God – because He first loved us – are contagious. They infect people with a desire to commit to things that are bigger than themselves. The best skill any fundraiser can master therefore isn't the art of asking, but the art of inspiring -- and keeping the inspiration glowing.
The blessing of satisfaction, eternal values and inspiration…
Realizing that I’m a bearer of the blessings above changed my mind about my “accidental” profession. I now consider fundraising as a very noble profession. I also realize that my being a fundraiser wasn’t by “accident” – but the Lord’s fulfillment of my dreams to use the power of stories and ideas to transform my world.
That’s who we are fundraisers! – God’s stewards and instruments of blessings to donors – His select group of people whom He uses along with us, the development and ministry workers and the people they serve to manifest His great love for everyone. Isn’t that indeed a great privilege?
But here’s the most important encouragement that I want to leave you with in this occasion. That whether or not the graduating in this course set your path to a lifetime career in fundraising, walking with the Lord and trusting Him to lead you where you ought to go will guide your future more than anything else you’ll ever learn in any school.
Your present circumstances like your job, status and relationships won’t affect your future as much as your walk with the Lord. He called us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength because He loves us and that’s the best thing for us. Only when we love Him that way can we truly be fully successful in life.
Though I’ve just met a lot of you today, let me leave you with a charge that St. Paul gave in Philippians 2: 14-16: “Do everything readily and cheerfully – no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I – or ATS or all of us whom God used in your lives – didn’t go to all this work for nothing."
So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise our Father in heaven!
Thank you and good night!"