–A LEGITIMATE CONCERN OF FAITH GROUPS AND OTHER NON-PROFITS
Brenda Walsh, Racine Dominican
many representatives of non-profits and faith communities are expressing concern
about the sustainability of their projects and programs when they are no longer
able to sustain them with their presence or limited resources. This concern goes
back a long way. In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he realized that his time on earth
was limited and he wanted all to know that he had stayed in the race to the very
end, never faltering even in the most challenging times. He looked around and
thought of Timothy whom he deemed could be a reliable and trustworthy preacher
of God’s Word. Paul urged Timothy to “fan into flame the gifts God had given
him” and be prepared to continue the Mission of Jesus for a long time to come.
Paul and his followers pursued that goal seriously and with good results.
group I worked with in Racine, Wisconsin over two decades ago taught us many
valuable lessons about sustainable development. That has kept the efforts going
since that time and enabled groups involved to continue and be effective into
the future. The organization that provided the training and assistance is still
in operation locally, nationally and globally. It is the Institute of Cultural
Affairs in Chicago that has helped people visualize the kind of community that
local people wanted to develop, trained them to focus on results and to harness
the power of their impact in bringing about needed change. The organization
always encouraged people not to just think about the next step but also to think
about the step beyond, well into the future. They helped in the creation of
systems that were just and environmentally- friendly. They also brought young
people into the dreaming, planning and acting and helped people to create
systems that were just and environmentally-friendly. You can learn more about
the Institute by going to
address is 4750 N. Sheridan rd., Chicago, Illinois 60640. (Used with permission)
do faith groups and other non-profits need to do to ensure sustainability?
- Have a
clear Mission that is studied, understood and owned by a group
of people committed to sustaining and living it. Habakkuk 2:2
reminds us “to write the vision down and make it plain on
tablets so that whoever reads it may run with it.”
It should be clear and concise and
answer these questions:
“By whom are we sent? To whom are we
sent? For what are we sent? The Mission Statement should be
reviewed periodically to see if any changes
are needed to meet the current
Providing adequate funding into the future is always a
challenge. Diverse sources of funding are preferred to having
one or two major sources that might evaporate down the road.
Keep funders well informed about the progress of the
organization and invite their feedback on how the funds are
used. Make sure the Mission is not compromised by funds given to
support the program.
- Invite a
group of people who will be ongoing supporters of the program,
including youth and other people who have a knowledge and
interest in the Mission of the organization and its
sustainability. Gather regularly with them and keep them
informed and engaged in supporting the mission.
Ensure that decisions
made are just, environmentally friendly, sustainable,
racially equitable, and have the common good in mind.
training for staff and other groups of people needed to
sustain and expand the Mission. Developing leadership in
men and women involved is critical to sustainability.
Founders need to know
when to let go and let others who are well prepared to
take over the operation.
Maintain a deep spiritual base that will nurture and sustain all involved in
their ongoing effort for sustainability. The Divine source will enable us to do
more than we can imagine. May we be bold in moving forward with courage and