Recently I sat in a marketing meeting with a group of nonprofit experts and this was the essence of the conversation: “Black men on the front page of a newsletter do not bring in dollars, kids do.” I have been wrestling with these words ever since. I wonder where the line is between exploitation and explanation. What does an organization, like the one I work for, do with this research? And why is the Church so susceptible to this trick?
As a nation where racial tensions are high, my twitter feed is blowing up with #blacklivesmatter. But in the world of nonprofit fundraising it seems that #BlackKidsMatter and #BlackMenDont. How do I, the Marketing Director of an urban Christian missions organization, begin to turn the tide with my donors? A large part of my role is to raise awareness and dollars; I am not going to hide that. But I do not want money because Kadesia is a cute kid. I want your support because what World Impact does is effective. I want your support because Kingdom-minded people matter.
Internally, I have made the decision that #BlackLivesMatter and that World Impact will put pictures of men and women who Christ has transformed on the cover of our printed materials. We will allow men and women whose lives have been impacted by God’s Grace to tell their story. We will not post images of children for the sake of dollars. We will highlight children appropriately in our schools, at our camps, or in our church plants, but not to emotionally grip a donor to give World Impact money. That is what the “experts” encourage, but we will be different. Learn about World Impact and what we do, fall in love with what God is doing in Urban America, meet the Godly men and women Christ is using to redeem the city, and search your heart. A dear friend of mine once said, “Where your heart is, there your wallet will follow.”
I want the Church to look at how they give. If it is because the little black kid on the newsletter is so adorable, know that you have been had. You have been duped by the marketing experts for an emotional response. You have lacked discernment and been manipulated into giving. I know this all sounds harsh, but there are great organizations doing amazing things that will not get your support because they do not work with kids–they toil and pursue adults for Kingdom work. The Church overlooks them because the homeless man is not attractive on the fridge, the single mom studying the Bible is not give worthy, or the incarcerated men scare people. But this is who God will use to transform the city. “God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him” (1 Corinthians 1:28-29)