|SEEKING FUNDING SOLUTIONS|
The Salvation Army realized that it had never received a donation from the city's most celebrated lawyer. So a uniformed Army’s lass volunteer paid the lawyer a visit in his lavish office.
The volunteer opened the meeting by saying, 'Our research reveals that even though your annual income is over two million dollars, you don't give a penny to charity, at least not the Salvation Army. Wouldn't you like to give something back to your community?
The lawyer thinks for a minute and says, 'First, did your research also show you that my mother is dying after a long painful illness, and she has huge medical bills that are far beyond her ability to pay?' Embarrassed, the rep mumbles, 'Uh... No, I didn't know that.'
'Second says the lawyer, did it show that my brother, a disabled Afghanistan Veteran, is blind and confined to a wheelchair and is unable to support his wife and six children?’ The stricken rep begins to stammer an apology, but is cut off again.
'Third, did your research also show you that my sister's husband died in a dreadful car accident, leaving her penniless with a mortgage and three children, one of whom is disabled and another that has learning disabilities requiring an array of private tutors?' The humiliated ‘church lady’, completely beaten, says, 'I'm so sorry. I had no idea. “
And the lawyer says, 'So, if I didn't give any money to them, what makes you think I'd give any to you?’
Fortunately the cheap-skate lawyer is not typical of the average charitable giver. Charitable giving in the US reached a new record in 2014; almost $360 billion. However, religious giving slowed as fewer Americans claim religious affiliation and turned their focus to a wider variety of charitable causes; “congregations shrink and givers embrace a wider variety of charitable causes”. (USA Foundation, a Chicago-area nonprofit)
Religious giving has been ceding ground to other categories over the past few decades, and that trend continued in 2014. CSM June 16, 2015
"While the overall growth is indicative of robust philanthropy … we would be remiss to gloss over what is happening with giving to religion,” Giving USA chairman David King said in the report’s release.... But religious giving “is continuing its 30-year dramatic downward slide,” Mr. King notes. Donations to religious institutions has dropped from 53 percent of all donations in 1987 to 32 percent in less than three decades. Unsurprisingly, demographics have a lot to do with religion’s shrinking piece of the charity pie. The number of Americans who don’t have any religious affiliation grew to about 56 million last year, a nearly 7 percent increase in just 7 years. The trend is even more pronounced among Millennial adults; those with no religious affiliation outnumber both mainline Protestants and Catholics in that age group.
A similar pattern of declining charitable giving is found in in Europe as the center of Christianity has shifted from Europe to the global South. A century ago, 80 percent of Christians lived in North America and Europe, compared with just 40 percent today. And today 25% of all Christians in the world is in Africa, and the Pew Research Center (USA) estimates that will grow to 40 percent by 2030.
Christian charitable giving in the UK
In spite of impressive flurries of interest in matters spiritual here and there in the UK, the downward trend in altruistic giving has continued unabated the last 20 years. In that time almost every branch of Christianity has felt the reality of this decline. And according to a recent study Muslims will soon outnumber Anglicans attending church in England.
The recession has impacted evangelicals giving
Twenty-five per cent of evangelical donors stated that their giving has been impacted by the recession. While most evangelicals are keeping their regular giving commitment some of them are making fewer one-off donations in response to appeals and nearly half of them are not taking on new giving opportunities.
Today churches and Christian charities are facing significant fund raising challenges. Here are some of them: The continuing decline in church attendance points to a 2015 Sunday church attendance drop in England to below 2.5 million, just 4.7% of the population.
Lack of attendance is likely to translate into reduced giving to support church’s mission. New Christians who have been brought up in non-Christian homes have no real understanding of stewardship and a very limited knowledge of Christian charities and their work and may be reluctant (like the attorney) to donate any moneys. And most churches and Christian charities have not developed robust strategies to engage with new Christians and younger younger givers.
A growing number of churches and charities are competing for a limited pool of funds and this situation is made worse by the current recession which has forced several Christian charities, including the SA to close their doors and reduced their programming. At present UK SA budget re-analysis have a large majority of lay staff wondering if they’ll soon be made redundant.
More and more donors evaluate where and how they give – so it is becoming harder for charities to generate increased support without insights on dynamics of giving. The most compelling reasons for giving according to recent surveys are: trust in a charity’s effectiveness and transparency about how the money is used, followed by donors having some kind of first-hand experience of a charity’s work and personal interest in the people or the area where the charity is helping. The types of religious activities that motivate people to give are evolving and churches and Christian charities need to understand people’s attitudes towards mission and ministry to inspire and challenge them effectively.
The major cause supported by evangelical donors is Christian mission outreach, and which is the key focus of the FSAOF mission projects.
Designated Gifts – Targeted Projects
Some potential donors take a very restrictive view, claiming that the SA and other major charities are already well supported by the United Way (USA), Children in Need (UK) and World Vision (Canada), and that individual churches should be supported by ‘its own’ and their denominational headquarters. Sometimes though, as the FSAOF has recently witnessed, the beneficiary is its own malefactor in impeding delivery and receipt of urgently needed donations.
Considerable confusion exists in the charitable supported world regarding public, private and corporate giving and perhaps most of all as it concerns designated gifts.
In the same way that financial analysts research to find the best possible investment opportunities, the FSAOF, relying on the far-reaching resources and experience of its members concerning specific SA Commands-units, investigate their unique needs, the country’s customs and import laws, and the local physical and financial distribution chain. There isn’t a country or command where FSAOF members haven’t served or been in command. Consequently, we can assist outside donors and our own member donors to create a balanced giving portfolio to best reflect the giving interests and the change we all hope to achieve. We have the tools they need to give ‘better’ and to ensure higher returns on their donations, based on our own FSAOF and recipients’ evidence.
From experience attracting donors and securing early, on-going commitments of financial and general support is critical to start-up and expanding programs. And these are the focus of our nine-year mission projects’ funding which have moved us to visit and contribute funding and material donations to more than fourteen SA centres in 7 countries. Our early focus was on the SA work in Latvia. Subsequent to FSAOF inspection visits a delivery of 600 new winter coats for children and adults was coordinated by the FSAOF in cooperation with the SA Norway. Summer camps and Christmas parties were conducted for four years. The FSAOF provided all necessary staff, including nurses and qualified-experienced camp leaders, food, equipment, instruments, computers, AV audio/video equipment, and more. For the last 4 years we have wired regular funding totaling in the thousands of dollars and delivered medical and dental equipment to a Salvationist operated free mobile dental clinic serving the Crimea Russia region.
All in all our mission projects have impacted directly on several thousand needy persons, families and SA members. And FSAOF designated giving and gifts in kind total more than $25,000.00 per annum to Eastern Europe SA centres alone. Our activities, while not highly publicized, are well known and appreciated by IHQ, many THQs, active Salvationists and staff especially in E Europe. Request for FSAOF support are received almost daily and passed on for immediate action. Regrettably our offer of support is not always welcomed. And nothing impedes or causes disinterest by our members and other donors more than strong-handed, hard-driving ‘corporate’ bullying. Recent exchanges have caused a debilitating emotional drain on our volunteer members. There have been (documented) instances of dishonest bullying leaders moving in a contrived Christian culture. The leader’s demands, duplicitous conduct and the ‘in-your-face’ self-exaggerated status of their office have taken supremacy over any sense of ethical conduct, courtesy or grace.
A universal ethic respected among charities is that they are not free to use or allocate funds designated for a specific purpose or person in a manner falling outside the strict parameters established by the donor. Some SA commands, in order to ‘manipulate’ designated donations obfuscate to conceal their experience, knowledge and actions. Others have been disingenuous in their methods in working with the FSAOF and have been untruthful. (Verbatim exchanges in our ‘private files’) Yet some take a very expansive view, asking that the FSAOF SA assist the receiving command in designing and accomplishing joint charitable and religious goals. The practicality we are experiencing and the ideal team work wished for sit somewhere between these extremes.
NEXT WEEK - THERE'S A REAL PERSON TAKING IN YOUR CYBER SPACE MISSILE
Public and private Face-Book chat message exchanges with the FSAOF the last thirty days revealed a very unattractive characteristic of the SA’s leadership culture in some cultures. Their hard-driving ‘corporate’ bullying must cause many of their indigenous colleagues to raise an eyebrow or two....