A timely warning for Transformational Giving from 2009: ethnic fundraising

It’s only fair that since we ended last week with a timely warning against traditional/transactional fundraising (TTF) that we begin this week with a caution for practitioners of Transformational Giving (TG), related, interestingly, to the question of TG and ethnic communities.

I think the subject is on my mind today because in our church this morning the pastor was praying his July 4th weekend prayer, in which he praised God for building a community ‘with no regard for ethnicity’. I of course understood what he meant, but it gave me pause for thought in that my wife (who is originally from Korea) was the only non-Caucasian individual in the room.

In Eikenberry’s Giving Circles, the praises of which I have been extolling for over a week now,  she throws down the gauntlet with a provocative quote about most charities also having no regard for ethnicity, or geography, or residential segregation by income:

[B]ecause the voluntary sector is so decentralized and locally focused, it does not have the capacity to reallocate resources from affluent to distressed communities. This is a significant problem when one considers that about 90 percent of charitable contributions are raised and spent locally, affluent communities tend to be more generous than distressed communities in which there are wider variations in income and racial/ethnic populations, and there has been an increasing residential segregation of Americans by income over the past forty years.

I want to take issue with Eikenberry’s assertion that affluent communities tend to be more generous than distressed communities, but all in good time. First, however, I want to rephrase and reframe her quote so as to sharpen up a very legitimate challenge to Transformational Giving, namely:

TG Principle #6 states:

The champion, not the organization, is called to be the primary means of advancing the cause within the champion’s sphere of influence.

A corollary to that principle is the very provocative strategy (which Mission Increase Foundation will be teaching in August/September in its extremely popular Marketing Your Ministry free workshop/lab sequence; sign up now)  that recruitment of new champions is the responsibility of the champion, not the nonprofit organization.

So sharpen up the question this way:

  • If champions are recruiting new champions, and
  • If champions are recruiting those new champions in their sphere of influence; and
  • If champions’ spheres of influence are becoming generally more homogeneous in income, ethnicity, and virtually ever other measurable social characteristic (churches, for example, are becoming even more segregated by age), then
  • How can causes ever move beyond people who are like us?

TTF’ers (traditional transactional fundraisers) don’t get vexed by this question because ethnic donors are just one particular (and highly optional) pathway among many to meeting their organization’s budget needs.

TGers (practitioners of Transformational Giving) ought to be very vexed by this question, because our goal is to coach, by the power of the Holy Spirit and the advance preparation of God (cf. Ephesians 2:10), God’s people to grow up into the full image of Christ. If this question isn’t giving us a Romans 10:15 moment, could it be that we all have a little ttf in us after all?

So this week we turn to the subject of ethnicity and coaching champions. The subject is so vast that if we can even outline the contours of the discussion–talk about who’s talking about it and what they’re saying and what it has to do with discipling people in the image of Christ–then it will be a week well spent.

About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Eric Foley is CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, supporting the work of persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world and spreading their discipleship practices worldwide. He is also the International Ambassador for the International Christian Association, the global fellowship of Voice of the Martyrs sister ministries. Pastor Foley is a much sought after speaker, analyst, and project consultant on the North Korean underground church, North Korean defectors, and underground church discipleship. He and Dr. Foley oversee a far-flung staff across Asia that is working to help North Koreans and Christians everywhere grow to fullness in Christ. He is presently a candidate for the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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One Response to A timely warning for Transformational Giving from 2009: ethnic fundraising

  1. Pingback: Ethnic fundraising: Are ethnic donors ‘less generous’? « Transformational Giving

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