Apr 28, 2011
Greetings! For my next several posts I've asked various ministry leaders to blog about their experience connected with the Mission Increase Foundation (MIF). I talk about MIF all the time so I thought you might be interested to hear the perspective of others. One note... It is important that you understand that these posts are not about the specific work of MIF, but are about the specific work of God through MIF. Big difference in my mind because it's always about Him! We're just glad to be along for the ride!
This post is from Scott Allen, President of The Disciple Nations Alliance - their website is Right Here! Take it away, Scott...!
The Disciple Nations Alliance began in 1997 as a partnership between Food for the Hungry and the Harvest Foundation. We train and equip local churches around the world to rise to their full potential as God’s agent in healing, blessing and restoring broken communities and nations.
In 2007, with the full support and blessing of our founding organizations, the DNA formed as an independent non-profit. This was a significant life-change for me. I went from being a 20-year employee of a large relief and development organization, to president of a small start-up non-profit at the outset of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Suddenly, those talented Food for the Hungry fundraisers who ensured that my paycheck arrived each month were gone, and I found myself wearing the “fundraiser-in-chief” hat. I needed training, and fast!
By God’s grace, within weeks, I was introduced to the Mission Increase Foundation and their (FREE) workshops! After my first training, I was immediately impressed with two things.
First, I was struck by the unique, Christ-centered ministry model of MIF. Here was a granting organization that took serving others seriously. They invested time and resources in equipping Christian non-profits to be effective and successful and, in the process, I came to know them personally. From my time at Food for the Hungry, I knew enough about grant writing to know that most foundations know very little about the inner-workings of the organizations they grant to. Here, however, was an organization whose model entailed becoming deeply acquainted with an organization and its leaders in the context of serving and equipping them! I have never seen anything like it before. How refreshing.
Second, I was impressed by the deeply Biblical approach of MIF training. Part of our DNA teaching involves challenging the sacred-secular dualism that shapes the mindset of so many Christians. I’d seen this same sacred-secular divide in the area of Christian fundraising as well. Many Christians view fundraising as a secular activity. It was the “dirty work” that needs to be done so the higher/spiritual activity can advance. Because it is seen as secular work, many Christian fundraisers are drawn to “proven” techniques and practices with little consideration as to whether they are Biblical or not.
It didn’t take long to realize that MIF didn’t operate like this. They hold the Bible as their basic textbook for donor development. Some of the most helpful, even life-changing, insights I’ve gleaned from the MIF workshops have come from the pages of Scripture as they speak to the various aspects of managing an organization. From my limited experience in the fundraising world, I knew that MIF had chosen “the road less travelled.” They love and honor God and His Word.
In 2009-10, we faced a financial crisis. We had become overly dependent on grants from a couple of Christian foundations. When one of these didn’t renew their grant, we were in trouble. I knew we needed to grow our base of individual donors, but how? One of the MIF workshops I attended at that time was on “Fundraising Banquets.” These were presented as a great way to grow your base of champions, but I was skeptical. My impression was that dinners were outdated. I believed that people were burned-out from attending too many of these events. The thought of the logistics involved in pulling off a dinner seemed daunting. Would the reward be worth the cost? But a crisis has a wonderful way of encouraging you to try new things! I purchased the MIF fundraising banquet manual. It was worth every penny—a completely thorough, easy-to-use, guide based on many years of actual experience. It took away my fears, and gave me the confidence that, as Jonathan is fond of saying, “you can do this!”
It was at this point that MIF came alongside us in a very tangible way by providing a fundraising banquet matching grant. This was an enormous encouragement, and it sealed the deal. We were going to do a dinner! The event happened on March 26, and it turned out to be a wonderful success with many unexpected benefits. One of these was in the area of “messaging.” Knowing that many who were attending had no idea what the ministry was about caused us to buckle down and refine how we communicate our mission and purpose in a way we wouldn’t have otherwise.
God used the event to introduce many new people to the DNA ministry, and many seemed genuinely excited and made financial gifts. This, in turn, boosted our energy and greatly encouraged us. We literally saw God at work, and there is nothing more encouraging than that. The help that MIF provided was immense. They challenged, inspired, motivated, encouraged, trained, and during the dinner event itself, gave wonderful credibility to our ministry through Jonathan’s very thoughtful and moving presentation of the matching grant.
We are already planning our dinner for next year. Rather than starting from a place of doubt and anxiety, we are excited and energized. God is so good. He knows our needs and provides others to walk along side us in challenging times. In short, He provides for the work He has called us to do. All glory goes to Him.