Confession time: Some days, usually after hours of spreadsheets and PowerPoint, I wonder whether my days would be better spent working for a ministry. After all, they’re the ones doing the real work.
They’re in the world of changing lives, and we fundraising consultants are in the world of changing postage rates and changing email subject lines. Right?
Recently Wycliffe Associates, one of our longest-standing clients, gave me the opportunity to test this out. WA sent me to a Bible translation workshop in Manchester, England, where a group of ex-patriot South Asian men and women gathered for a week to begin a translation for a country in South Asia. These translators used a new method of Bible translation Wycliffe Associates has developed, through which teams of national translators are able to draft the whole New Testament in a matter of months, checking and correcting each other’s work as they go.
WA staff put me right in the action, facilitating the process with a table of translators. After six days of work the team had drafted 20 percent of the New Testament!
WA started using this methodology about two years ago, and we were immediately commissioned to start fundraising for it. Sadly, of all the fundraising offers in the world, a new Bible translation methodology is potentially one of the worst. It violates so many rules of a typically strong offer—it’s not tangible, it doesn’t meet an urgent physical need, and it involves a multi-step process. Plus, most Americans don’t realize that the Bible is not already available in every language.
Yet as we’ve worked with WA to present this opportunity to donors, we’ve found that donors are excited about sharing God’s Word with people who have never been able to read or hear it in their heart language. WA has honored us by inviting our team to the same table as their operations and communications teams, so that we all hear the field reports at the same time and together work through the best ways to present fundraising needs in direct mail, online, and
Trusting partnerships like this one make it easier to inspire donors. Both our teams invite the other to speak into the fundraising process. We’ve been able to cut out dense academic, process language and shine the light on the end goal—people coming to a deep, saving relationship with Jesus Christ through His Word.
Throughout my week with the translation team, I saw the team leader pay for translators’ travel expenses, food, and lodging costs; basic office supplies for the team; and technology and printing—all things necessary for them to gather and translate God’s Word. He paid for these things with money given by donors, donors who were excited about Bible translation because Wycliffe Associates and Douglas Shaw & Associates have together shown them this open door for the gospel. In this we are partners in ministry, and partners in the world of changing lives.
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