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Let’s change our terminology – from fundraising to MPD

Maybe you’re not familiar with this term MPD – it means Ministry Partner Development. Many mission organizations use it to describe the process of personal fundraising. I’ve found that it is not so well-known or used in Youth With A Mission (YWAM), but I would love to see it become part of our vocabulary.

Why does this matter? Because it changes the focus from money to developing partnerships. While money remains necessary and nothing to be ashamed of, many of us still resist or feel uncomfortable about asking people for it. Those negative feelings can cause us to avoid inviting people to partner or to use less personal and effective ways to do it. Some then resort to “crowdfunding” via social media for their outreach costs or even for monthly supporters to join them. This is the least effective way to build a team of ministry partners for the long term. The most effective way is to approach people God has highlighted to you as personally as possible, with face to face being the very best way – relationally.

I’m writing a book about the first half of my live workshop and free online course called “Beggar, Burden or Blessing? Overcoming our Greatest Obstacles in Raising Support.” It addresses the lies we believe about ourselves and money and leads the reader through a process of identifying and dealing spiritually with those lies. It’s not a how-to book. I cover how we are deceived by the spirit of mammon to give power to money and let it make decisions for us. The principality of mammon would love for us to keep money as the focus, because then we’ll come under mammon’s influence and be less effective to invite people to partner with us to see God’s Kingdom grow. Keep your eyes open for news of when the book will be published (hopefully next year) by following us on Instagram, https://bit.ly/RFInstagrm .

The Apostle Paul is a wonderful example to us of keeping relationship the focus of his appeals for financial partnership. Particularly with the church in Philippi we see that they supported him from the beginning and often, but that for Paul it was more important that they were being blessed than that he was getting their support (Philippians 4:15-19). His outlook is what changed my uncomfortable feelings about asking for money to understanding that it would bless people to join us in ministry through financial support. God’s plan was not only to bless us with the finances, but with a two-way partnership to do His work, with the giver being blessed as much as us. I no longer felt I was burdening people to ask them to join us, but that I was offering an opportunity for them to invest their resources in His Kingdom work, and God promises to bless that. What a difference that has made!

As self-employed missionaries we all need to discover how to create a sustainable financial base for the long-term. This requires much prayer and work in connecting with people, sharing the vision, inviting them to join, and then maintaining your team through ongoing communication. Yes, it’s a lot of work. And yes, it’s part of our ministry. Henri Nouwen goes so far as to say that fundraising is ministry itself – because we’re inviting people into a lifestyle of generosity, giving and being connected to fruitful, spiritual work (“The Spirituality of Fundraising” by Henri J. M. Nouwen, Upper Room Books, 2011).

This underlines why I love the term Ministry Partner Development – we are developing a team of ministry partners who work alongside us to accomplish God’s dreams! It’s so much more than fundraising. You are actually mobilizing people into missions through inviting them onto your team. You are deepening relationships with people who love Him and want to serve Him but are not called to do it full-time in the way you are. They are called to serve Him in their setting. The invitation to partnership is not only in a financial way, but also for prayer, advice, encouragement, practical help and so much more – there are so many ways to partner. The term MPD covers the whole context of working together to spread God’s love.

At our center, Heidebeek in The Netherlands, we are working on using the term MPD when talking about how we’re doing with raising support. “How’s it going with your MPD?” or “Let’s share about our MPD journeys” or “How much time do you give to MPD weekly?” Two hours a week of work time is allowed for it at our base. Several years ago, we started a voluntary MPD small group with the purpose of mutual encouragement and accountability. We called it Club 16 after foundational value #16 – practice dependence on God for financial provision. Every other Friday afternoon we came together and shared if we had met our goals from two weeks ago, had some short input, shared our goals for the next two weeks, and prayed together. The second half of the afternoon was used to do the actual MPD work – write thank yous or the next update, work on a presentation or brochure, call to set up an appointment to invite partnership, update your budget, etc. It helped everyone stay on track. We celebrated our progress and prayed for our challenges. Doing it together makes a big difference. (This stopped for a while but we’re working on starting it up again.)

A passion of mine is to encourage YWAM centers to have MPD training as part of the onboarding process and to keep offering it periodically so that all our staff, whether new or seasoned, are equipped in this. We run two Relational Fundraising workshops per year at Heidebeek (mid-March and mid-October) with a “Train the Trainer “component and each time I invite all European campuses to send someone to be trained to give it at your location. Consider sending someone this October 14-18, 2024. For more details see our website: https://bit.ly/HeidebeekRFWorkshop

An idea that is starting to brew is to hold a European MPD Forum – a gathering for those desiring to get MPD training embedded at their campus, including those who already teach this topic or want to learn how to teach it. There are several of us very passionate to multiply it in YWAM and organize such an event in Europe, possibly Fall of 2025. It’s still only in the idea stage, but if this rings a bell for you, please contact me at relationalfundraising@gmail.com.

And lastly, did you know that there is a free online course version of my live workshop? It’s been around since 2015 and is hosted on YWAMelearning. It is a do-it-yourself at your own pace course. If you wonder how you can offer training now to your staff or students, or want to do it for yourself, go here to get all the details and link:  www.relationalfundraising.com/onlinecourse.

I understand that change takes time – changing our mindsets, our patterns, our vocabulary. As we enlarge our understanding and embrace the biblical context of ministry partnership development, MPD just might become a familiar term in our YWAM tribe!

Blessings, Terry Sherman

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