“Nearly six in 10 consider generational giving tendencies to be a ‘significant’ or ‘extreme’ challenge.”
Mission CEO Survey 2013
That’s according to the a recent survey of mission agency CEOs, commissioned by Missio Nexus in partnership with Global Mapping International. This statistic confirms that mission agencies are struggling to find long-term funding. The survey also found agencies are desperately seeking a new revenue model, with 73% of mission executives ranked “developing new revenue sources as a key priority over the next three to five years” (the highest ranking of any priority).
The consequences of these challenges include:
Competing ministry strategies form and co-exist between an organization and its field workers. Those on the field are simultaneously fundraising and executing ministry programming, all the while creating their own strategic direction that departs from the organization's strategy. After all, why do they need “top-down” instruction from the organization, when essentially they are serving as their own organization?
Donor awareness of the organization’s overall impact is limited to the perspective and experiences of an individual's effort. Each person or couple on the field who fundraises personally acts as a sieve, filter, or at times a practical black-out curtain to what is occurring within the same organizational ministry close by and far away.
Tactical donor involvement - that expected exchange of financial support for a few updates - prevails. Strategic partnership takes a back seat. Partnership is an interdependent exercise, not a transaction as it is sometimes - dare we say, traditionally - reduced to. Field staff invite their donors to become part-owners of the ministry. When partnership exists around the individual missionary, donors cannot help but get involved in the tactical minutiae of the work through that missionary.
Hiring new people is tightly linked to individual fundraising ability. This makes it difficult to hire qualified people who either can’t or won’t accept a position in which they will not only have to perform their job, but also personally raise their salary. After all, it’s one thing to expect someone like an “evangelistic” missionary to be able to execute a personal fundraising plan. It’s quite another thing to expect an I.T. professional, accounting clerk, or maintenance worker - THIS NEEDS A STATEMENT OF CLARIFICATION AS TO WHY THESE KINDS OF PEOPLE WOULD BE USED IN A MISSION - to succeed in personal support-raising.
Utilizing creative new ministry strategies becomes practically impossible. If the major source of revenue is created through individual support-raising efforts, creative strategies such as utilizing responsible short-term missions, launching local business, and resourcing indigenous leadership simply do not fit comfortably into this revenue model. Not only are they incongruent with effective messaging under this model, but almost always require more significant resources than any single missionary’s network can sustain.