I skyped this morning with a Missions Director who had a problem that is common to all ministries—it went like this.
His national office held a Thank You Luncheon for key donors. It was not an “asking event” but simply to say thank you and acquaint donors with the future of the ministry. All went well—a lovely luncheon.
But his staff were dismayed that “their donors” were invited while they themselves were not invited—the ones who worked hard to win the donors in the first place!
The Director was discouraged this morning because his staff criticized him for “stealing their donors.” They would not say that out loud, but that is what they felt.
Maybe you identify with the staff! You worked hard to recruit a donor and now “national” is trying to steal her!
Let’s take a deep breath and come back to objectivity. Having encountered this dilemma many times, here is what I remind both directors and staff:
- All donors are God’s donors! Your giving partners are not ‘yours.’ Givers give to the Lord and you receive from the Lord. Paul said the Philippians’ giving was a “fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.” (Phil 4:18) Giving goes to heaven.
- All donors are organizational donors! Your giving partners are not giving merely to help you squeeze through a hard time. They give because you are called to gospel ministry. They are pleased that you work joyfully with a highly-esteemed organization. Though their money is designated for you, it is under the legal control of your organization—at least that is what your government thinks! This provides protection against fraud.
- Multiple giving designations help everyone! A few years ago, as Development Director for the US Navigators, I was working hard to expand corporate income, but the staff suspected I was ‘stealing’ their donors. Was it true? A simple study revealed the following:
Donor Support of: Total Given Annually
1 staff $600
Multiple staff plus organizational projects $1560
The suspicion that donors cut staff support to give to national support simply wasn’t true. When givers support national projects as well as local staff, they give more overall—because they are hearing more than one lonely staff voice.
“Donor Protection Plans” help no one. Encourage your giving partners to support you, your organization and even other staff. They will not stop supporting you. I know of no situation where a staff received less support because ‘their donors’ supported the national organization.
Sequel: After the no-ask luncheon I mentioned at the beginning, one donor wrote the Director saying he was increasing his monthly automatic giving to several staff. Lunch anyone?