Ministry Measures Part Three
Over the course of the last few months, I have shared with you the questions surrounding how we might evaluate the efficiency, effectiveness, and general well-being of an organization that is asking for financial support. This is a complicated discussion, and I would encourage you to read previous articles here and here.
From my two years of experience in serving as an executive director for a faith-based organization and consulting with people well-versed in the non-profit world, I have come to understand that funding, or the lack thereof, impacts not only the organization but also the employees, the volunteers, partner organizations, and the families served. Assessing the financial trends for an organization is critical, as is the need to analyze the overall organizational health.
Because of the huge array of organizational missions and models, there is no “one size fits all” evaluation tool that could give a health indicator whereby scores over 80% mean “give with confidence” or a score below 50% means “give elsewhere.” However, it seemed appropriate to craft a survey by which the donor has the opportunity to answer questions on behalf of the organization they wish to support, in order to assess how much they really understand about the group requesting funding. Below is some information about this survey.
This list of questions can fuel conversation and cause us to probe deeper for a more comprehensive understanding of how dollars are being used within organizations we wish to support. Going through this process undoubtedly sounds like a lot of time and effort. It is! As I shared in previous articles, I have been guilty of giving without much thought, and I seldom go to the level of investigating how much I really know about organizations before cutting a check. My giving has often been a response to a personal request or an emotional tug.
I have attached a PDF file of the questionnaire here. Each question had five possible answers, and point values range from -2 to +2. If you find that your total score is 15 or less, chances are that the organization may not be as healthy as it should be, or you don’t know much about the group that is requesting your money. Either way, take some time to pray over and think through the appropriate action. Should you dig a little deeper, perhaps requesting an appointment or a phone call with a staff or board member to get answers in the categories where you are lacking information? Maybe it’s time to volunteer some of your professional skill set to contribute to the health of the organization. Perhaps you will have learned that it isn’t the best one for you to fund.
I realize that this survey is an imperfect tool. I can already think of potential pushback from certain organizational leaders who feel that several of the listed categories contain information that should remain private. This survey isn’t intended to force change. Instead, I hope it will serve as an eye- opening experience in understanding the complex nature of faith-based nonprofits and determining why and how your financial contributions are needed and used.
So, from one imperfect servant to another, I urge that we do the best with what we’ve been given as we look for ways to expand the impact of God’s light in a sometimes dark and frightening world.