Sometimes They Want Their Money Back

An ESPN article shares the story of a major benefactor to the University of Connecticut who wants the school to return $3 million in donations and remove his family name from its football complex.  The donor is upset that he was shut out of discussions about the selection of a new football coach.

I don’t know the full ins and outs of the story and relationships in this particular case but as I read the article I wondered if there is a lesson here for how we approach donor relations in Christian ministry.

The scenario the donor and university are facing in this story appears to reflect a more transactional relationship. I give this – you do that – scenario. The challenge now is the donor feels short-changed and demands a refund.

It begs the question, “Are we about transactions or transformation when it comes to givers?”  Transactional versus transformational represents a major mindset adjustment when it comes to fundraising.

Transformational giving focuses on the transformation of the giver as well as the transformation in the ministry.  God’s design for giving is such that we grow stronger in our dependence on Him. When we embrace and live out Biblical stewardship we become a greater reflection of Christ.

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3 Responses to “Sometimes They Want Their Money Back”

  1. Pastor Jack Wilson Says:

    There are some who contribute so that they can take part ownership. They want some control. In my Church I have no idea who gives what. I will never have to delay in throwing an unrepentant sinner our of the church because of how much they give.
    Givers expect and should get something for giving but that would be limited to the joy they receive for serving God. If they don’t like how things are run they should not give.

  2. Donna Says:

    Congregants want input, and they want accountability. The church budget should be viewable to all congregants, and congregants should be consulted on major decisions. The leadership has the responsibility to decide the final course of action, but should seek Godly counsel and input from the church body before making budgetary decisions.

    I agree that if someone is uncomfortable with the decisions a church makes over time they should leave. But not before discussing it, bringing up their concern for consideration. Wisdom comes from a multitude of counselors, and some churches are simply too insular.

  3. Pastor Jack Wilson Says:

    Donna’s answer would be correct in a congregational style Church. Where things are decided by the congregation. Yet there are many Churches that have Pastor led Churches. Those Pastors believe that God has called them to the office and will also give Him sound decisions. Moses is one case in point. He delegated responsibility but if there was a dispute that could not be handled, He would handle it. By the way, Korah did not like that and rebelled.
    The truth is, putting decisions to an open amount of people may cause problems. Families vote together, others group together by how friendly they are and some vote out of discord.
    The man of God will consult God and make a decision based on that. He also will know other Pastors with whom he can consult.

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