Today’s blog comes from Kaylie Kuhn. Kaylie has a way of articulating the heart of ROOM in a way that is educational and empowering. Today’s message on making the most of long-term or short-term mission trips is an excellent tool to use when making the decision on where to go and who to serve alongside. We hope you find this helpful and informative and if you would like more informaiton about missions opportunities through ROOM please contact Cassie Murray, firstname.lastname@example.org
Missions trips, vacation Bible school, international church projects: what do these things have in common? All three require immense financial and often physical investments. With a new year upon us, many new churches and generous families are looking for a way to invest their money in a productive way to advance God’s kingdom. Investing your time and money cannot and should not be taken lightly. It is a great responsibility to make sure its going towards the best option possible for the people you hope to serve, you (or your church), and your beliefs.
As a veteran on the mission field I have a lot of experience when it comes to nonprofit organizations and, specifically, the financials running behind different types of organizations. Giving money to the first person who inspires you can generally lead to disaster. Some organizations have pure hearts but poor financials; unaware of how to properly budget or balance checkbooks. There are also a select few that focus more on profit than on being a nonprofit. I hope to use this blog to give you (or your church), a new perspective on nonprofit financials and how to make the most wise investment possible.
The first step when looking for a partner is to look for something that aligns with your beliefs and passions. Now, when I say this I don’t mean if you’re Baptist only work with Baptist organizations, but moreover to make sure the organization or person you decide to partner with holds themselves to the same morals as you do. If you do not agree with the way they run their organization or mission, it can become a conflict for both you and the organization later on. When I raise funds I do my best to be completely transparent with my donors, so they know exactly where their money is going and in return I don’t have pressure on myself to become someone I’m not to please my supporters.
All of us have different passions, and trust me when I say there is a place for every passion. ROOM tries our best to connect people with their passions, which is why in every missions trip we host we introduce our teams to every aspect of ROOM’s ministry: Orphanage Care, Orphan Prevention, and Family Placement Solutions. This way, teams can know specifically how they want to deepen their impact in the future of our ministry. For example, those who have a passion for education can invest in providing tools and resources for one of our partner orphanages education while those who have a passion for nutrition invest in programs providing fruit and vegetables at another orphanage.
When considering your passion, remember the need to balance. For every glamorous investment there is a basic need. For example, while ROOM’s big projects are major investments with tangible picture-perfect outcome, we also have non-glamorous investments such as the paper and staples needed for our office so we can print out our outcomes and deliver them. Simply investing in shiny projects while forgetting the behind-the-scenes-needs just doesn’t work. Both have equal needs for investment.
It is important to make sure, once you’ve got your passions and beliefs aligned with an organization or a person, they have a working budget in place. Big projects can be great if funded properly, but if it is a constantly increasing budget which will continuously need more and more cash investments without ever becoming self-sustaining, this project will either become extremely dependent, unstable, draining or impossible to fulfill. Every organization or person needs to make sure they balance the big dreams with a proper budget. If they have not considered these realities, it is not recommended to invest with them, no matter how inspirational the idea may be. Sustainability should always be the goal.
Lastly, it’s important to see where the excess is going. When fundraising goals are exceeded, where does that money go? This needs to be just as properly documented and budgeted as the goal money itself, or else it can be easily misused or forgotten. Knowing these basic financials will not only help you to make a wise investment but also improve the nonprofit or person themselves and help them in the future as well.
As you go into a new season of investment remember these tips to make the wisest investment possible.
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” –Luke 16:10 (NIV)
If you have any questions about ROOM’s financials, or any other area of inquiry inspired by Kaylie’s article, please contact our Executive Director, Amanda Stafford, at Amanda.Stafford@makeroom.org or by calling 704-773-1717 (U.S.). She loves to talk about budgets, nonprofit sustainability and how to invest in children and communities!
To learn more about how ROOM empowers children and communities, please visit our website.