The Nonprofit Bubonic Plague Syndrome, Part III: The Solution

In our last two posts (here and here), we’ve been talking about The Nonprofit Bubonic Plague Syndrome–specifically, how the more desperate nonprofits get about money, the more likely they are to repel the very donors they are seeking to attract.

The whole idea of a Nonprofit Bubonic Plague occurred to me after Todd Eckhardt, Director of Champion and Partner Development for World Gospel Mission, shared a post with me last week that he planned to send to the organization’s missionaries. He noted that for missionaries, sadly, the focus on involving people in mission is inversely proportional to the missionary’s financial need.

That is to say, the more a missionary gets desperate to raise support, the less they focus on getting others involved in missions and the more they focus on their own needs.

As Todd explains in his post, that’s, um, backwards.

Todd has given me permission to quote his post in its entirety. Though it’s written to missionaries, the three solutions Todd presents apply equally well to nonprofits of any stripe who are seeking to avoid catching The Nonprofit Bubonic Plague. Let’s read and then go and do likewise:

Many missionaries on Home Missionary Assignment [i.e., traveling across the US to raise support] with deadlines of the need to get back to the field, or missionaries on the field whose accounts are running low, all have the same question about [Transformational Giving].  The question is…I want to be all about the champion but I need to get back NOW, so how do I communicate this to my champions?

Urgency is not a bad thing and it has its role.  After all we are all working with urgency to see the lost won to Christ.  There are ways to express the urgency of the need without making it an emotional plea that leaves the champion feeling empty.

  1. Focus on the role they play with you as team members. They want you to succeed for the kingdom as well.  They want you on the field too.  If they didn’t they would be your champion in the first place.  So let the current group of champions know it is urgent.
  2. Avoid crisis thinking. There is a huge difference between crisis and urgency.  Crisis can give the impression that we are not going to make it and the ship is sinking.  Urgency can be portrayed that “time is a wastin’” and we have a race to win.  We all want to run the race with a sense of urgency.  But if we run with panic that means we are behind.
  3. Appealing for gifts does not have to change in urgent situations. It is still about their obedience.  You can communicate the time crunch and still challenge them about their walk and role.  It can still be about them.  Perhaps the situation is urgent due to a lack of obedience of the Body of Christ to respond.  You may be God’s resource for some in the Church to finally become obedient.

About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Dr. 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 earned the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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