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Stewarding Donations Well – The Case for Competent Staff

Recently Man Up and Go was donated $100,000 to help fund our Man Up 100 initiative. While this is an amazing and unexpected blessing from God, it also comes with a huge responsibility. We want to make sure that we are stewarding this gift as well as we possibly can.

To do this, we needed to hire a part-time program manager. To many, this may sound counterintuitive that a ministry or non-profit would spend money on staff.

  • After all, it’s a non-profit, right? People shouldn’t make money. Does that mean non-profit staff must work for free?
  • Besides, I want 100% of my donation to go to the end beneficiary. Do you care that the end beneficiary actually receives your donation and who should oversee the process to ensure accountability? 

Questions like the ones above are usually VERY well-meaning. Hopefully the below response will help shed some light on how a non-profit operates when it comes to staff and oversight of dollars given to charity.

Let’s Pretend

Let’s pretend your grandfather just passed into glory and left behind half a million bucks that was designated to help orphans. He’s left you in charge. How does that responsibility sound? Pretty heavy right? You want to steward this money well, but you also know you have a spouse, a family, a job, responsibilities at church, other commitments to your community, and well, the list goes on. In other words, you have other distractions that detract from your ability to focus your time and energies on finding good ministries in which to invest the money your grandfather has entrusted to you.

What About a Non-Profit?

The same philosophy dictates a non-profit. When donors give money, they want it spent on the mission. Without staff to properly oversee and execute the distribution of dollars towards program impact, two things might happen:

  1. It will just sit in an account. Too many non-profits are understaffed and overworked because they simply don’t have the human capital to run the mission with excellence. They’re afraid to spend money on staff because donors expect all of their dollars to go to the end recipient.
  2. Worse, it’s spent frivolously. In an effort to spend the money, some non-profits will write grants to other agencies, churches, or nonprofits, but have very little control over where that money actually goes. They also lack the manpower to implement follow up and oversight of these grants.

The Case for Staff

Wouldn’t it be better, then, to hire skilled people with passion for the ministry to oversee the dollars that are given? We think so. In the non-profit space we call them Program Managers. Better stated, they are stewards of the resources the Lord provides through ministry Champions. By appropriately resourcing non-profits, they can provide critical oversight and accountability to ensure dollars are being spent in the most excellent way possible. If you’re a donor, you really do want competent staff in place to oversee the ministry.

Why Not Get Volunteers to Help?

We don’t want to sound snarky here, but you want to know what the hardest job on the planet is? Serving as the Volunteer Coordinator for a large church. Why? Because your well-intentioned volunteers always seem to have the same emergency at the exact same time – Saturday afternoon before Sunday service. So the 50 volunteers you needed to run the children’s programs now sit at 25, and you spend your Saturday night and Sunday morning scrambling like mad to fill the void. If by God’s grace you can recoup 25% of those, you’re high-fiving anyone in your path because it does seem like an act of God that you were able to find any volunteers on such a short notice.

Yes, volunteers are amazing and no non-profit can run without them. AND, volunteers do not have the same commitment level as paid staff. This isn’t demeaning or derogatory, it’s “just the facts, ma’am.” When you’re getting paid for something, you are more likely than not to fulfill your commitments. Volunteers are fantastic and wonderful. We love you, and we want you to serve with us. At the end of the day, however, we can’t demand anything of you – you’re a volunteer! Staff on the other hand? They can be held accountable to a high standard, which is exactly what donors should want.

That’s Why…

…we needed to raise $10k at our recent Fall Football Fling Thing. The $100k gift we received is a blessing from God, and with that blessing comes responsibility. It was necessary to raise money for staff so that the $100,000 can be stretched as far and wisely as humanly possible, with the grace of God. Praise the Lord we didn’t just raise $10k – we actually raised over $15,100! Because of this gift, we will actually be able to unleash MORE of the $100k gift and be able to serve more families in the Man Up 100 initiative. That is a WIN-WIN-WIN for our families, our donor, and Man Up.