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How to Be a Responsible Giver

In the world of development, it used to be: “We have a need for x in ministry, and it will cost x dollars. Who can you get to fund it?” But over the last several years, we’ve rethought that conversation. Now, it’s: “We think we see a need in ministry that is going to cost us x dollars. Let’s pray about it and see if God wants us to provide for that ministry need. If so, whom should we ask?” It’s a dramatic shift, but one that suits us well in our pursuit of funding. Recently, I’ve gained an additional perspective on giving and the relationship between Feed the Hunger and its supporters.

Just a month or so ago, a member of the Feed the Hunger board approached me and asked if I’d ever read anything from Randy Alcorn. I’ve read The Treasure Principle, Safely Home, and several of his blog posts. His work is great stuff! This board member gave me a printout of an article Alcorn wrote entitled “Nineteen Questions to Ask before You Give to Any Organization.”

Reframing the fundraising process through the eyes of the donor helped me focus on why people give to Feed the Hunger. I have my own thoughts on the matter, but I think it’s important for you to ask yourself these same 19 questions with regard to Feed the Hunger, as well as any other organization that receives your financial support. They are listed below:

1. Are there things about this ministry that make it uniquely worth investing in instead of a thousand other good causes?

2. Before giving elsewhere, have I fulfilled my primary giving responsibility to my local church?

3. Have I not only studied the literature from this ministry, but talked with others who know it close up but have no vested interests in it?

4. Have I considered a ministry or vision trip to see and participate in what this ministry is actually doing on the field?

5. Does the ministry’s staff demonstrate a servant-hearted concern for those to whom they minister?

6. Do the organization’s workers demonstrate a sense of unity, camaraderie, and mutual respect?

7. Have I talked directly with people at the “lower levels” of this ministry, not just executives and PR people?

8. Is this ministry biblically sound and Christ-centered?

9. What kind of character, integrity, purity, and humility is demonstrated by the ministry leaders?

10. What kind of accountability structures does the organization have?

11. If this is a secular or semi-Christian organization rather than a distinctively Christian one, what are the compelling reasons for giving to it?

12. How clear are this organization’s goals and objectives, strategies, and tactics, and how effective are they in carrying them out?

13. Is this organization teachable and open to improvement to become more strategic in their efforts?

14. Am I certain I’ve gotten an objective view of this ministry, or have they given me the red carpet treatment so I’ve seen the positives without the organization’s negatives?

15. What view of God and people is demonstrated in this organization’s fundraising techniques?

16. How much money does the organization spend on overhead expenses and fundraising, and how much in actual ministry to people?

17. Does this ministry show a clear understanding of cross-cultural ministry factors and local conditions and how the flow of money may affect them?

18. Does this organization speak well of others and cooperate with them?

19. Is this ministry pervaded by a distinctly eternal perspective on life, ministry, and resources?

I challenge you to ask these questions of us, of other organizations, and even of yourself to see how you would rate them. I’d love to discuss your thoughts and answer your questions with respect to Feed the Hunger.

May God give us all wisdom in giving our resources to advance His Kingdom!

Randy Alcorn is the director of Eternal Perspective Ministries, and can be found at epm.org. The article quoted in this blog can be found here.

Jim Gurley | Development Director

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