“Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”
James 2:2-4 NIV
“People tend to treat ‘the haves’ better and with more respect than ‘the have-nots’, even in church. Those with money are likely to be given positions even if they don’t have the best of skills, and this is sometimes because of their ability to be funders. Is it fair? Is there an underlying motif?”. This is part of the conversation I had with one gentleman in church leadership position.
But, we all want to be treated better and with respect, so what we end up doing is;
“One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.”
Proverbs 13:7 NIV
Those who pretends to be rich do it mostly because they want the same privileged treatment afforded their rich brethren. And the rich pretends to be poor because of the so-called ‘donor fatigue’.
Donor fatigue is being so tired of helping finance everything happening in church (or other NGOs) that you are willing to wear a mask of poverty so you are left alone and not always being asked or expected to contribute money. This is a really sad feeling and it may lead to attrition as people (former donors) opt for a more ‘populous church’ where they could ‘hide within a crowd’ and go incognito for a while. “Some even decide not to let church folks know their residences, nor show up with their fancy Porsches at church”, for a fear of being judged as ‘the haves’ and hence being expected to contribute each time there is an activity.
So the question is, how do we avoid ‘donor fatigue’ and still get activities financed and done in church? Clearly the gospel is free but taking it to the people or nations is not free. Remember that;
1. Not every activity at church is necessary.
2. My not wanting to be part of some activities doesn’t make me less loyal nor obedient
3. It is not easy for me to say ‘no’ so please don’t put me in a position where I’d have to ignore your donation requests.
4. Always asking me to contribute, even for things that are useless and unnecessary, make me think you don’t really care about me but what I can give.
Well, the truth is…
“… From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”
Luke 12:48 NIV
And this applies the most in churches were the same group of individuals would be expected to help ‘make things happen’ each time there are ‘things’ that need to happen, even those things that don’t need to. Which in turn may lead to donor fatigue.
Growing and bringing in new people to church who would help carry the burden is one of the viable solutions to donor fatigue, and growth is brought about by soul winning, and soul winning by evangelism.
“Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.””
Matthew 9:37-38 NIV
May God strengthen donors in His Kingdom and encourage them to keep on using (part of) their resources to the advancement of His Kingdom and saving the lost; any other purpose may be not necessary.
Disclaimer: Most of the comments about are from church members and donors I have spoken to and are not solely mine.