Many people want to give generously to world mission, but aren’t sure how to go about it.  Rumours of financial inefficiency, corruption in foreign countries, and vast extravagances generally put people off.  People want to know where their money’s going, and that it’s being used wisely.  At a time when many mission agencies are struggling financially, it’s important that prospective donors feel they are able to commit their funds, so here are some ideas that hopefully should allay your fears.

Who to support?

Support someone you know.  If you have a friend, or someone in your church who’s involved in world mission, support them, or their organisation.  A direct link fosters accountability and ongoing interest.

If you’re in a denominational church, support that denomination’s work.  So if you’re a Baptist, support BMS, for example.

Support something you’re interested in.  If you have an interest in a particular country or activity, find somebody else who’s already involved and support them.  Just type the appropriate phrase into your favourite search engine and see what comes up, or use Christian Vocations to see which organisations work where and do what.

How do I do it?

Preferred ways of funding will vary between organisations, but one thing they all like is regularity.  If you can give the same amount every month, it will help them budget.  If they can count on money coming in, they can plan to spend it.  If it just turns up periodically, it’s nice to have that extra help, but they would rather know it’s coming.

If you are employed, you can give through your payroll to maximise tax efficiency (talk to your employer about this).  Alternatively you can give by direct debit or standing order (set this up online or talk to your bank).  Many agencies now have a facility on their website to set this up online.


Are you a taxpayer?

If you are a UK taxpayer make sure you sign a Gift Aid form so that the agency can turn your  £10 into £12.50 by getting the tax back from HMRC.  This extra boost to funds is a life-saver for some organisations.  If the organisation you’re giving to doesn’t reclaim tax, you can give through the Christian charity Stewardship, or Charities Aid Foundation, Everyclick, Charity Giving or Just Giving.  They will all pass your donation on to your chosen charity, together with the reclaimed Gift Aid, but beware – they will keep a bit back to cover their expenses!

Accountability

This is important.  Many people are scared that their money is going into a black hole, or being spent on things they don’t know about.  So ask.  Any organisation worth its salt will publish its accounts in its newsletter.  They should also be able to tell you how much goes on overheads as opposed to the ‘real’ operation.  Up to 10% is ok – you’ve got to let them spend a little on their UK offices, staff and fundraising, but any more than that and you can start wondering how efficient they are at cost control.  If you’re in any doubt, ring up and ask them.  You should also be able to donate for a specific fund, region or person, and by law they must comply with this.

Tough times

We all know that money is tight at the moment, and we’re having to economise.  Discretionary spending is being cut back hard and giving is part of that.  The result is that many mission agencies are having to make deep cuts to programmes and staffing levels.  There is some good in this, in that it forces them to think about their priorities, ensure they are investing in their core vision, and live out their trust in God as it relates to their finances.  But it also means that many of their activities are being axed and many missionary families are suffering.  Some of them have experienced real reductions of income in the last three years of over 30%, and committed mission workers are starting to leave their field of service for no other reason than they can’t afford to stay there.  So please give generously!