Ask for a Fish

By Ron Haas

“Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.”

Fundraising is sometimes describes as “fishing” for donors, but the fishing metaphor is misleading. Real fishermen bait their fish into making bad decisions. Fundraisers might strategize about “fishing in the right ponds,” “choosing the right donor hook,” or “reeling in a huge catch.” They may even tell fish stories about “the big one” they landed, or even “the one that got away.”

But these images wrongly imply that fundraising means luring someone into doing something they will eventually regret. Instead of fishing, a better analogy for fundraising can be seen in Jesus’ lesson about prayer: “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:9-13, NIV