When someone gives you money to do your charity work, they deserve to know their money was well spent and bought what you said it would.  Not that you would squander their donation.  It’s just that you ought to tell them.  (They might give a follow-up donation for future projects.)

I was talking to someone from a church I helped for a while about a decade ago.  They needed a new sanctuary, and a partner association wanted space for volunteers to stay in when they came to help.

The church started in a 22-room vacation house.  The founding congregation moved it to a 5-acre spot just off the center of town, near the high school.  They opened the living room into a worship space for up to 50 people, and the rest was converted into educational space, with a fellowship kitchen.  When the new sanctuary was built, the worship space became the fellowship hall.

Once the new sanctuary was built and the old sanctuary converted into educational space, the house was returned to housing.  It contained a bunkhouse and 8 bedrooms with shared bathrooms, and a studio apartment for the missions leader.  The kitchen, living space (old fellowship hall) and an office area completed the shared living space.

The partner agreed to provide not only funds and people to build the new building and remodel the existing spaces, but also to provide funding for the operation of the missions house.

Trouble is, as best I can guess now, is that the agreement was made between the partner’s director and the church’s pastor.  That pastor has since moved on.  A couple of years ago, the funding stopped, and no one knows why. I can hazard a guess.

Those organizations that support missions organizations do so from annual budgets, and want to know what they’re getting for their money.  When I was a missions-sponsored campus minister, I had to provide monthly reports of what I was doing to keep the support coming.  That the church now doesn’t seem to know even where the funds came from or why they stopped indicates they took, but never gave back.  They didn’t do the funder the honor of providing reports of what they were doing with the money.  And they didn’t send the annual letter asking to be put into the next year’s budget.  Without a request or notice of results, the partner assumed the need was satisfied, and turned their attention elsewhere.  And when the church didn’t submit a request even after being cut off, the partner probably felt justified in their decision.

That church has ceased using the house for missions support housing.  Many of the bedrooms are now storage for off-season materials, or stand empty.  The building itself is becoming run down, since the funds received went to the general budget or as stipend to offset missionary housing costs in the building.  Without that income, maintenance is being neglected.

All for the want of an annual report and accompanying request for continued support.

I believe you owe everyone who gives you money not only a thank you for the gift (“thank before you bank”), but also a report at the end of the project or end of the term what their money was used for.  Organizations that don’t use my contributions well don’t get subsequent donations.

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