Wednesday, February 27, 2008

an average of 5 converts per day, more bang for your buck, and other great standards for gauging efficiency in ministry

Throughout this process I am constantly pressed by questions of effectiveness, good use of time, and keeping accountable to the people that support this ministry financially. It's often difficult to measure the effectiveness or "results" of ministry, when there's something kind of threatening in the whole idea of service for the purpose of results. Meaning, results of a ministry should be descriptive, not prescriptive. I don't want to have every conversation or interaction I have burdened by the need to defend or justify the time/resources spent on doing it. Flexibility is crucial for missions work.

That's no excuse, though, for not providing a detailed standard of effectiveness and information accounting for details of how a ministry operates. This is important partly for transparency and accountability, and partly so a meaningful, honest dialogue can occur between myself and the people who support me.

The December Wall Street Journal has an article about philanthropy and charity giving. Since MAF is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit charity that has an open-door policy on its financial process, and since they (from my observation) make a concerted effort to use donor money wisely and report openly on its use of donor monies, I wanted to make information available here for anyone interested in the financial workings of this ministry. I'll also answer some of the questions that people ask me about how the money is used. Some people seem reluctant to ask... so here's how it works!

(I try not to spend too much time on these things or dwell on them, but I want to make this information known somewhere so if you're interested you can find answers here. This information only interests me at periodic points in the process, but I think it's important to be transparent about it, so here's where that information is available)

If you really want to read from my heart's perspective on this topic, though, please read this short story I wrote. I busted this out in a sudden "fever" of inspiration about a year ago. And since then I've been living it as a reality. Please read it and perhaps it will be a blessing to you as well.


J said...

Hi Brendan! That's great that you provided your supporters a breakdown of your budget. However, funny thing is, I received a copy of my budget when I first started raising support and it looks slightly different from the one you have. There was a category for "Program Expenses", which was to cover costs such as local visas and such - to be used by at the local program's discretion. I think a portion of it ended up going into operational costs, but I couldn't give you a detailed breakdown because nothing was transparent to me, even from an accounting perspective, as far as support spending was concerned. But I think we may have already had this conversation?


bboy said...

Well, the breakdown is based on averages across the board, so it's very possible that it changes from case to case. Also, you began raising support before I did, and even by the time I posted the breakdown, it's changed from the time I began as well.

There is a section on mine as well for visas and stuff like language school application (that's just part of the one-time outgoing expense), but nothing really for program expenses. I think the breakdown for a long-term overseas assignment would (understandably) be very different from a short-term assignment.

As for transparency, I'm going to do my best to be as transparent as I can with what I know. I feel that's the best approach, and MAF encouraged me to do so, so it seems like a good route to go.