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Imagining Abundance with Kerry Robinson

By June 1, 2023June 26th, 2023podcast, Steier Tips

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In the Gospel, Jesus fed 5,000 with only five loaves and two fish. After the crowd was satisfied, there were 12 wicker baskets left over. God provides the abundance. In each episode of this podcast, we will explore, with pastoral leaders and development professionals, all the many ways God meets the spiritual and temporal needs of our parish communities, our Catholic schools and the diocesan church. And not only meets those needs but provides in abundance.

The 15th episode of the podcast is Imagining Abundance with Kerry Robinson.

As the great-granddaughter of John and Helena Raskob, and a lifelong member of the Raskob Foundation for Catholic Activities, Kerry grew up involved in philanthropic support of the ministries and good works of the Catholic Church throughout the world. It wasn’t until Father Bob Beloin, Catholic chaplain at Yale University, invited her to lead a capital campaign in support of the St. Thomas More Catholic Chapel and Center at Yale, however, that she grew in her appreciation of fundraising. She recounts her experience of leading the campaign and all the lessons she learned thereby in her 2014 book, Imagining Abundance: Fundraising, Philanthropy and a Spiritual Call to Service, published by Liturgical Press. She began to experience a greater understanding of how fundraising can ennoble people to become a part of an important mission, thereby revealing that “philanthropy and fundraising are two sides of the same coin” and are “inter-related, necessary corollaries.”

Kerry’s involvement with fundraising also exposed her to “theological ambivalence about wealth,” causing some to regard money and financial administration to be a distraction from mission, if not an obstacle. Leadership Roundtable seeks to equip Catholic leaders, clergy and lay, with the resources to be trustworthy and competent in collaboration with and reliance upon the financial acumen and lived experience of lay leaders. Kerry notes that ordained and religious leaders at the head of important apostolates and ministries, can often carry out their work with a disposition mired in fear, thinking of fundraising as nothing more than asking friends for a personal favor. They can worry that they’re asking too much. But when grounded in mission, then inviting becomes a joy and excellence becomes the standard for the mission itself.

Generosity is humankind’s birthright; we are all called to be generous and to serve as catalysts to inspire generosity in others, Kerry noted, helping them to give according to their philanthropic passion. The starting point of generosity is gratitude because, as Kerry learned from Henri Nouwen, once we realize that we are loved by God, we are moved by an immense gratitude to live a fruitful life of giving in return. Kerry reminds us that great leaders think in generations and decide today what matters, not allowing the vagaries of life to deter them from working toward that vision. Hearkening to St. Oscar Romero’s comment, “We are prophets of a future not our own,” Kerry understands both fundraisers and philanthropists to be such prophets when inspired, not by their own ends, but by the mission they serve.

Guest: Kerry Robinson

Title:  Executive Director for Global & National Initiatives, Leadership Roundtable

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