Sunday, June 01, 2008

Funding Ministry

Chris Brooks has started an interesting conversation on his blog about ministry and fundraising. It is especially challenging for people who have to raise their own salaries while at the same time trying to minister to so many hurting people. I started raising my salary with Youth for Christ back in the 70's. Here's how I responded in a comment on Chris' blog.
Thanks for bringing this up Chris. I feel your pain, brother. A few weeks ago a friend of mine did a short survey for a workshop he was presenting and asked me what my three biggest challenges were as an Executive Director. My answer was fundraising, fundraising, fundraising. There is nothing that drives me to my knees more consistently than the constant pressure of raising money.

There are lots of ethical dilemmas in fundraising. How do we represent the ministry in such a way that people will give and do it without “pimping the poor”? How do we maintain the dignity of the people who participate in our ministries and still communicate need?

We decided early on at Breakthrough to establish a development department instead of having staff raise their salaries, in part, because we found that people who grew up in privileged settings had a much easier time raising funds than those who did not, so it just wasn’t fair to some of our most effective staff members who come from less privileged communities. I found my role in being able to help resource those staff members actually rewarding. I believe in them and what they do so it is easy to sell their ministry to donors.

As ministry leaders, I think part of our responsibility is to build bridges between those who have resources and those who are in need. Both need to be loved, listened to and challenged. Lila Watson, an aboriginal activist said, “If you are coming to help me, you are wasting your time. If you are coming because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us struggle together.” I like that quote, because I think those with resources need liberation as much as the men and women in our shelters. They need to learn as the apostle Paul warned in 1 Timothy 6:17, “not to become haughty or to put their hope in the uncertainty of riches.” Potential ministry investors look to us to help them make connections so that their contributions can make a difference.

I like what Joel wrote about learning to minister to donors. I love the Breakthrough donors. I really do. I have met so many really caring and generous people. I am by nature very shy, but because I know the ministry needs money, God has pushed me out to be with people I would not ordinarily know or associate with.

I can’t say that I enjoy fundraising. It is always a huge challenge for me and really stretches my faith. There actually are people out there who love to raise funds and I say we should get them on our teams. We’re actually looking for someone right now to fill our Director of Development position so if you know anyone, email me.

Here’s a great link to an article by Marc Pitman called Fundraising in the Bible. Jeff Brooks and Steven Screen have a new podcast at this link called Fundraising is Beautiful that I am finding helpful.

So, keep the faith, and as Winston Churchill said, "Nevah give up!!"

1 comment:

Marc A. Pitman said...

Arloa, I love your image of being "bridge builders"! That's a very important part of the ministry of fundraising!