It is my intentional practice to rarely ask for donor support, through this blog or by any other means. We do not do donor meals, donor fund-raising specials or phone calling for support. I actually know most of our donors personally and most of them do not need to be reminded that we need their support. Historically ACT 3 has mailed only two appeals per year. One is the President’s Letter sent in May. The other is a Year End Appeal which is sometimes from me and more often from the chairman of our board. In the pre-Internet era we mailed our appeals via the postal service. Now we mail only one each year. This year I did not send the President’s Letter in May.
Recently I received an appeal from my friend Jim Kushiner, at Touchstone. He referred to what some have called donor “fatigue.” This is a real feeling that some have experienced in our present economic downturn. Jim noted that when he shared his concerns about "fatigue," a donor responded with the following comments:
--I work part-time as a Youth Director at a small church. "Donor fatigue" defines my work-a-day world.
--I have come to realize that, like myself, most people don't mind being asked when they know there is real need.
--Because people cannot give one time, does not mean they can't the next.
--I subscribe to all three of your periodicals, and have also donated to specific appeals, but I cannot this time. I'll have two in college in the fall.
--Please don't stop asking. If you didn't ask, I, and others, would forget and assume all is well.
This describes our donors and friends perfectly. Most are not able to give as they would like to give. I know this because you tell me so. Some of our friends cannot give at all. Those who do give really sacrifice in many cases. I understand this very well. My own salary was reduced substantially in 2008 and has never gone back to the amount of the 2008 budget. We’ve had to scramble, cut this and that out of our lives, and just make ends meet. We are not poor, not by any stretch. I actually own my home, something very few can say at age 62. This provision was itself a huge gift many years ago. (Some family and friends believed we should be debt free if we were to live on faith. That was a huge directional shift that has allowed us to stay in our lovely home. Had this not happened we would have moved in 2008 or 2009. The taxes and upkeep are bad enough!) So any rumors of our demise are false. God sustains us and even encourages us when “donor fatigue” sets in during times like the present.
But, and this is so important, you are our sole means of financial assistance. You – the readers of my work (through blogs, via the ACT 3 Weekly, by published books, etc.), churches and ministries that receive my teaching without charge, leaders who I mentor day-in and day-out, and good “friends” who simply love us -- you make ACT 3 happen through your gifts and prayer.
Our typical gifts come from ordinary people who sacrifice. Some sacrifice in remarkable ways! Most are people like us without great wealth at all. We receive regular gifts from people living on small retirement checks. We have even received gifts from people who gave because of an inheritance received from a deceased parent. Every single gift passes by me after it has been deposited and receipted. I thus pray for every single donor!
Our needs are not great. Our total operational (revised) budget is around $180,000. This includes two salaries, expenses for daily operations, travel (the largest portion besides salaries), Internet costs, an automobile, etc. We also continue to pay down a business card debt that left us with an unpaid balance at the end of the disastrous year of 2008. (This card was always paid off month-by-month and then paid in full by the end of each year if there was any balance. It was used for operational expenses until we could no longer pay the full amount at the end of 2008. This had never happened in the 14 years prior to the Great Recession. Now we pray that we can someday pay the balance in full while in the meantime we pay down small amounts each month.)
Summers usually bring the biggest challenge. We have missed more paychecks, and often struggled the most, in the summer months. This is the time when we must manage our lives in view of partial checks or no checks. The good news is that this is not likely to happen this summer! There are several reasons for this but as recently as March of this year we had such a financial crisis. God mercifully intervened and things are more stable right now. This happened because friends rose up and gave in a fantastic way when the need was made known. This doesn’t mean that we do not need gifts now just that we can plan on the next few weeks without the concern of not getting a paycheck. (Some of you reading this are out of work and this reminds me of how we’ve been spared the worst in this bad economy. Those of you I know who are in this place I pray for often and pray for you to get work.)
I know almost every ministry under the sun appeals for help in the summer. Please realize that no one enjoys doing this at all. But it is the way things are in a non-profit world, especially when money is not coming from large grants. Such appeals come to me almost every day. I give as much as I can, especially to friends I admire and trust who are doing solid kingdom work.
This brings me back to the question of “donor fatigue.” I am sure this is a real experience for some of you. I am fatigued myself at times. But I still find giving a great joy. It is in that vein that I ask you again to support ACT 3 now or even later in 2011. You can send a check to:
P. O. Box 88216
Carol Stream, IL 60188
You can also give online at ACT 3. There is a secure giving feature at this web site which allows you to give a one-time gift or even to set up regular gifts. Receipts will be sent for all gifts.
Tomorrow: Why Give to a Mission Like ACT 3?