Best practices are specific, discrete ministry activities that measurably increase program scale, effectiveness, and/or efficiency, and can be replicated by other National Ministries. Best practices should be supported by evidence (data).
A ministry that relies on external funding and volunteers requires the ability to track those donations to build relationships and extend their network of support.
It’s important to track volunteers so you can show them appreciation, recognize what all is being done through your ministry and to convey how much time and manpower the activities require.
It’s also important to track donors and donations in order to have a complete financial picture, to be able to acknowledge and thank your donors, to know what it costs to run activities and to know who is in your network and who they might know.
When you keep up-to-date records, you can understand past involvement and are better equipped to increase their engagement and investment. You can then equip your donors and volunteers to be spokespeople for your ministry.
• Determine what information you plan to collect.
• Determine how you want to use the volunteer and donor information.
• Determine what platform you will use (Microsoft Access, Google, Excel, etc.).
• Determine what basic fields you want to capture:
o For donors
Date and amount of last donation/gift
o For volunteers
• Determine access levels for the data.
• Determine how the system will be safeguarded so that donor and volunteer information is not exposed.
• Determine the necessary back-up system.
• Determine who will manage the data and the database and who will be responsible for cleaning these up.
• Build the tool (internally or with a contractor).
• Test the new system to determine if it effectively handles the necessary tasks.
• Enter or migrate current donor and volunteer data to the new system.
• Train all users on the system.
• Create email lists for each group and use them to regularly communicate with both donors and volunteers to keep them engaged in your work.
• Build online forms for volunteer sign-ups that feed directly into your system.
• Look to integrate your system with communication tools – emailing donors about opportunities or reminding volunteers of a scheduled commitment.
1. Human Resources.
a. Someone will need to lead the project.
b. Someone will need to lead the solution selection process.
c. Someone will need to manage access to the system.
d. Someone will need to build the tool (or manage the tool building).
e. Someone will need to train users on the tool.
a. Build on-line forms to collect volunteer sign-ups.
a. Time to determine the ministry’s data needs.
b. Time to decide on what tool would meet the needs.
c. Time to determine data security needs.
d. Time to set-up the system.
e. Time to test the system.
f. Time to populate the system.
g. Time to conduct training.
4. Space. Space to conduct training
5. Cost. The cost varies. Considerations include travel expenses, types of communication (email, phone, text), software expense, contractor expenses.
Brother Lawrence was a barefooted monk in the Carmelite tradition who lived in France in the 1700s. At age 55, he entered this community, serving mostly in a monastery hospital kitchen. He became known within the monastery, and later beyond, for his simple experience of the presence of God.
His best-known written work, still a Christian classic, is called “The Practice of the Presence of God.”
One of the disciplines he recommends is this: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, do it with all your heart, soul and strength.”
Brother Lawrence further elaborates from his own experience in this way:
In all things we should act toward God with the greatest simplicity, speaking to him frankly and plainly and imploring his assistance in our affairs just as they happen. God never fails to grant the assistance, as has often been my experience. Recently I went to Burgundy to buy the wine provisions for the society which I have joined. This was a very unwelcome task for me. I have no natural business ability and, being lame, I cannot get around the boat except by rolling myself over the casks. Nonetheless, this matter gave me no uneasiness, nor did the purchase of wine. I told the Lord that it was his business that I was about. Afterwards I found the whole thing well performed.
And so it is the same in the kitchen, a place which I have a great natural aversion. I have accustomed myself to doing everything there for the love of God. On all occasions, with prayer, I have found His grace to do my work well, and I have found it easy during the 15 years in which I have been employed here.
There are three issues I want to draw my (and your) attention to here:
1. We can learn much about ourselves, and of God, in the small tasks that we perform.
2. Small tasks matter. We should do them with the same passion and attention to detail, as if they were big work, fully on show to everyone around us.
3. Everyone has tasks we have a natural aversion to, and it is good to have self-awareness about what they are, because they can naturally be the ones that instinctively we try to avoid or do badly.
The good news is that even in these tasks we can ask for wisdom and grace from God to do them well. This glorifies Him and deepens our relationship….the main task of our lives.
So, in small and big endeavors, we are to do them all to the glory of God with big love.
This will likely include some of the tasks we talk about in this issue of Touchstone.
There is a principle at stake here which the Lord Jesus talked about, recorded in Luke 16, that has a surprising promise unpacked by the Apostle Paul. The servant who is faithful in small things is rewarded by the master entrusting him with more responsibility in His kingdom. Presumably, the master becomes confident in the servant’s ability and, more important, his character.
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” — Luke 16:20
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord….. since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3: 23-24
Given that His invitation to us is to eternal life (total life forever), what we do here and now matters…into eternity. That’s a great return on investment!
“O God make haste to help us. O Lord make speed to save us”…….. in the small and big things.