Re-Creating the Support Raising DNA of Your Organization

By on November 1, 2008   /   Leave a comment

Marv was a dynamic 41 year old visionary who took the challenge of a lifetime when he left a young, vibrant mission agency to take the helm of a larger, decades-old ministry stuck in the past. As he got to know the staff the first few months, he jotted down a number of unhealthy attitudes and issues he sensed had formed and hardened over the years. He was tempted to pull out a jackhammer, break it all apart and start over, but he wisely took a deep breath, bowed and prayed, “Oh God, only You can re-create the DNA of this organization. Please give me grace, wisdom and perseverance.”
His list? Ministry leaders were taking privileges and perks the other staff could not; executives were paid salaries and not required to raise their support; there were too many administrators in ratio to field staff; some staff were subsidized while others weren’t; there was no solid support training or policies in place; a poverty mentality had developed among the staff to cover their unwillingness to raise their full support; there was a fear of evangelism that lent itself toward adopting a “don’t ask” approach to support raising; leaders older than him were suspicious and resistant; and staff recruiting was down and new candidates were not strong leaders.
No wonder morale was low, trust was non-existent, and organizational and staff finances were at rock bottom. So, Marv, his wife, and a kindred-spirit board member prayed and listed six steps they would implement:
1. Spend the first year watching and listening
Marv interviewed past and present board members, executives, staff members, spouses, major donors, and key ministry partners, etc… asking them what they thought the support raising Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats were for the ministry. He also resolved to never “over respond” to their whining, grumbling, and small thinking.
2. Be a consistent model
He made no big changes the first year, but mainly prayed, loved, and served. Marv and his wife turned the organizational chart upside down and asked God to use their life and sacrifice to melt the rebellion and apathy around them. They made sure their own personal monthly support team was healthy and consistent.
3. Get staff in the Word
Weekly, he gathered all of the staff for a time of prayer and study of the Scriptures. He (and others) chose passages on vision, passion, faith, courage, evangelism, giving, asking, and examples of living on support. The Holy Spirit began to work in people’s hearts.
4. Win over key leaders
Along with spending extensive time with new staff who had not yet been negatively “infected” by poor attitudes, Marv identified four veterans he deemed key influencers. He encouraged, listened, and brainstormed with them as they helped him craft support raising policies, practices, and reporting.
5. Secure the best training possible
Marv and his team researched the various training options and determined they would pay any price in time and money to get their staff the very best training available. This communicated how critical being at full support was, that the leadership cared about their marriages and families, and how interested they were in the ministry longevity of each staffer.
6. Do what is necessary
One supporter counseled Marv to just walk away and start his own ministry, joking: “It’s easier to give birth than raise the dead!” But Marv felt God’s call to stay for the long haul, knowing if the Lord was going to “re-create” the support raising DNA of the organization, it would mean surrendering his rights and embracing the heart and mind of Jesus. He printed a card for his desk that read: A servant-leader is someone who does what is necessary…Marv decided not to put a period at the end of that sentence.


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