How many really talented people do you know have walked away from non-profit work because they couldn't raise the money?
I know a lot of people who haven't made it because of lack of funding or fear of asking people for money and you probably do to. After being in non-profit work for 15 years and seeing a lot of people come and go I've also observed those who've made it for the long haul and they often have one of these situations:
- A wealthy family/friend who is their primary backer
- Or, a tenacity to never stop asking
- Or, right time in the right community
When it comes to ministry we love to spiritualize fundraising. "It's a blessing." This type of language has intrigued me because it categorizes those that God would be willing to bless and those God is not willing to bless. I would vote it sucks to be one God doesn't want to bless but at least He loves you...right? It also is an intriguing theological posturing because God works for our good by making changes in us instead of creating a generous environment to live in. And let's be honest, the management mindset when funding is low is that someone is not asking enough people. This implies God blesses those of the right heart and those that ask enough...but what do you do theologically when you abide spiritually, ask plenty of people, and still come up short?
The answer for most is:
It's quitting time
But what if it didn't have to be this way? What if God has a higher level of generosity than displaying his approval through the donation of others? What if we acted out our dependency on God by using the gifts He's given us instead of relying on the hopeful generosity of others?
We live in this radical new time where our ability to produce revenue is only limited to our effort do so.
What would you do if money wasn't a factor? What would your calling look like? It's good for you to understand that before this new economy surfaced there was a dependency on organizations to provide a launching pad for specific callings. You needed to land in the right school district or you needed to be hired by the right non-profit to work in this specific calling. You had to be chosen by Peace Corps or you had to get your seminary degree. But not anymore. You want to teach? Teach online. You want to help impoverished people in a third world company? Then, start a business that helps these people.
As a matter of fact, in this new economy the more generous your business is the more likely it is to be successful. Although it causes a little panic inside of me I think our Western idea of non-profit is a bubble and it has the potential to burst. We've created organizations limited by donations instead of rich with talented people with creative means to be funded. I can already here the argument, "That's impossible because of God's abundance." I would agree with you, God is abundant in gift giving - talents we all have been given to bless someone else. Because of this value, or this blessing, others are willing to offer financial reward for you acting upon your gifts. Even though we use the title non-profit, most of our high level donors are donating because they believe we are doing good work.
I want to conclude with this: It's okay for God to do something new. It's okay for our minds to be renewed around God's abundance. It's okay to be paid for a job well done. It's okay for people to create generous businesses. It's okay to use your gifts and create revenue to financially support your calling. I'm just asking the question - Why should a lack of fundraising kill your calling?
What do you think about all this? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!