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SUSTAINABILITY –A LEGITIMATE CONCERN OF FAITH GROUPS AND OTHER NON-PROFITS

by Sr. Brenda Walsh, Racine Dominican

 

Today, 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.

 

One 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 www.ica-usa.org.

 

Their address is 4750 N. Sheridan rd., Chicago, Illinois 60640. (Used with permission)

 

What 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 situation.

  • 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.
  • Develop a clear media presentation that can be used with various groups to keep the public informed about the mission and accomplishments of the organization. Invite people to share stories about their involvement.
     

  • Ensure that decisions made are just, environmentally friendly, sustainable, racially equitable, and have the common good in mind.
     

  • Provide adequate 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 hope.

 

Justice Preaching Archive

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