Thurman is CEO of Geneva Global, a professional services firm that links donor "investors" with local faith-based humanitarian projects in the developing world.
One year after the tsunami hit, has the record-setting giving made a difference?
I don't know if anyone can describe how well needs are being met across nine or more countries. That's why I believe serious donors are well advised to concentrate their giving with local grassroots efforts where you can detect whether the community is changing for the better.
After the tsunami, ActionAid and Oxfam in the U.K. did a lengthy study. Once all the tsunami money is spent, only 20 percent will directly reach a program and deliver services to a tsunami victim.
How can ministries avert "donor fatigue" among givers?
I don't think there is donor fatigue. I think there's donor disappointment. Two-thirds of Americans gave to the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, but their confidence level about their money making a difference was 19 percent.
Why so low?
Donors can't see what their money is doing when they throw it into some big pot.
What's the alternative?
Make sure you're giving to results, not need. People never tire of giving when they know they're making a difference. That's exhilarating. Say a church has successfully resettled 82 families after a hurricane. Helping 40 more families will cost $48,000. You have a transparent picture. You and I would open our wallet for that.
After we give, how do we follow up?
I haven't done what I'm supposed to do just because I let go of money. The biblical model is stewardship. In Matthew 25, Jesus complimented the person who made sure the money worked hard. "Performance giving" is results-driven. Form an expectation. Ask who's going to be on the ground ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more