Protecting Turf in Fund Raising

Early 1999

Dear Colleagues,

Here is something I wrote recently that I thought would be good to share with you. I get this awful feeling that I am becoming more and more like Cacophonics the Bard in the Asterix comics–giving unsolicited and unwelcome renderings at unwanted times. I have two comments on this. Firstly, YFC is partly to blame because it has deprived me temporarily of my first love: writing. So they will have to endure my articles. And I get the last laugh because I doubt whether YFC people read my books (I don’t expect them to), but I think many read these articles. Secondly, unlike Cacophonics whose songs had to be heard whether they liked it or not, you do not need to read my articles!

Recently I have been reflecting a lot about the all-important doctrine of the cross and how it impacts the different areas of life. This is an application for one of those areas—money, an area where we often neglect extending biblical principles to. Soon OMF will publish a booklet I have written applying the theology of the cross to Christian ministry.

Ajith

On Protecting our Turf in Fund Raising

There has been a lot of acrimony in the body of Christ regarding people going to other’s donors and raising funds for their projects from them. I have had to think about this issue recently as Kithu Sevana sends their newsletters to our mailing list and some of our donors are more impressed by reading Kithu Sevana’s newletters than ours. I thought I must write down my reflections on this issue.

My approach to these matters has been that if others get financial help through our contacts I will try to praise God. We are in the same work of building the kingdom. And in this work we are asked to love one another just as Jesus loved us by giving his life for his friends. This means that if some funds that may have gone to us goes to another Christian group we will thank God because we have helped another sister Christian organisation. This could be one of our missionary contributions to them.

I feel that a lot of thinking about missionary involvement today focuses on the benefits from such involvement to the donors. This I believe has led to bad missionary practices that are helpful to the sender/donor but become a burden on the receiver. Perhaps we should think of new models of missionary involvement where there is no apparent value to us apart from what will come to us because of the truth that when we die for others we will finally find life for ourselves.

We must not, of course, encourage unethical grabbing of our donors by others. But because of the principle that if we lose our life we will save it, I prefer to err on the side of leniency rather than strictness with others. I am so afraid that by protecting our interests in such a way that others will suffer we would miss God’s blessings that come via the cross.

These days I have been reflecting a lot on the whole matter of the theology of the cross for daily life. Certainly it is a very basic Christian doctrine, but one which the church has by and large not permitted to permeate its thinking and acting. I believe that the theology of the cross will revolutionise our attitudes to ministry in that it enables us to embrace suffering for the gospel and for others with joy, rather than shun it and by so doing miss the glorious fruit that comes from the seed dying.

We must particularly try to be conscientious here because today there is so much rancour in the body of Christ over protecting ones turf that is dishonouring to God. I believe that we must concentrate on protecting our turf from Satan’s attacks and not from attacks from fellow-Christians. If they are successful where we fail, we could still rejoice because our commitment is ultimately to the kingdom and not to our organisation or church.

These are the attitudes that I have tried to operate on. I am of course conscious of the fact that I could be foolishly generous here. My hope is that the wisdom of the body will be a corrective to that. I must particularly be careful to ensure that my generosity will not contradict our donors’ intentions. That is, we must not give to others what our donors intended for us. But if I help open the door for another group to get support from some of our donors, I will try hard to rejoice over that even if some of the money that could have come to us goes there. The trying hard is necessary because our natural tendency is to be upset by this.

I will present one other point with an illustration. If we are going to appeal for funds from a regular donor of Singapore YFC whose interest in Sri Lanka YFC is triggered through his/her contact with Singapore YFC, I think that we must be honourable and keep Singapore YFC informed throughout the whole process.

“A CLARIFICATION

“I read through my “article” on fund raising again after a colleague pointed out that I may have given the impression that we were unhappy to give our mailing list to the Kithu Sevana movement which we helped spawn. I want to assure you that this was not the case at all. It was my joyous privilege to let Kithu Sevana continue to have access to this list as they were an important segment of our ministry and we grew together and therefore they had the right to the list.

“This work is thriving with God’s blessings and this is a great encouragement to me to think that YFC may have had a part to play in the starting of this wonderful work. I am sorry if the impression that giving our mailing list to Kithu Sevana was some sacrifice that we made may have been communicated in this article. The Kithu Sevana example came to my mind when I was writing this article as perhaps some Christians may have thought that it was unwise to give this list to them. I think it is natural that we did this, considering the history of how YFC gave birth to this movement. Ajith”