Saturday, March 10, 2007

Briefcase Charities

A friend introduced me to a new and disturbing term: "briefcase charities." These are non-profits, both religious and secular who establish bases of operations, collect money, but don't really engage the problems they are chartered to address. Ralph Winter, years ago, noted that a high percentage of missionaries go to locations where missionaries have already been, where housing and support services are well established. Resources are invested in housing, schools, and support infrastructure. We saw a large number of well-known international missions clustered together in Nairobi. Their compounds were impressive, secure and expensive. Their vehicles were new and of high quality. The question is service delivery. Are they doing what their supporters expect? Several were targeted for work in other African nations where quality of life is much more rigorous, even more dangerous. So these agencies work out of Nairobi, with an international airport and modern western ammenities.
The question is, can a mission be run and directed remotely? I am aware of directors of charities who live a great distance from the primary mission site. Is this wise and responsible?
Governing Boards and donors need to expect much more transparency from the operations staff about the direct delivery of service. Can a pastor serve a church and community from a long distance? Is the world really so flat (Thomas Friedman) that geography means nothing so long as we have high-speed internet and direct flights?


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

eXTReMe Tracker