At some point everyone begins to prefer cash tucked in cards to beautifully wrapped gifts ripe for opening on Christmas morning. It’s a subtle but inevitable shift for most. Mom has a way of buying the best presents when you’re a kid, somehow always snagging the exact thing you wanted, but with age comes complexity. And cash speaks to adult complexity much more fluently than a new coffee mug or an embroidered sweater.
When I open a card with a few bills tucked inside today, I think about how that money will reduce my monthly costs or how much it will increase my savings toward a new car. Those dollars offer me a freedom that gifts never did— the choice and responsibility to steward it how I see fit.
If you’ve been following 127 Worldwide, you may have noticed that we’ve replaced fundraising for projects like a shoe distribution or school fees for our Partner Grant Program. And it might seem like a step backward. Aren’t we moving away from transparency, away from clarity? What projects does this grant program fund, anyway?
We have absolutely shifted from raising money for specific projects for a few reasons, and they all center on our commitment to healthy engagement. In many ways, we have chosen a more difficult fundraising path in order to support the long-term health of our partners and the vulnerable communities they serve. We’re constantly reevaluating our involvement and striving toward empowerment, even when it makes our jobs cumbersome. This new focus allows us to strike a balance between letting our partners determine their ministry goals and equipping them to care for the vulnerable in healthy ways.
So it works like this:
- 127 raises support for the Partner Grant Program (PGP).
- Our partners apply for grants from the PGP to fund empowerment-focused projects for their communities. These projects aim to address both the spiritual and physical needs of vulnerable communities, not only today, but for generations to come.
- 127 evaluates a grant request for mission alignment, offers input on program design guided by best-practices in vulnerable community care, and then helps measure impact for the empowerment-focused projects that the PGP funds.
The PGP Why
The Partner Grant Program helps us to avoid some of the unintentional baggage that accompanies Westerners financially supporting work in vulnerable communities.
The first potential problem is that by raising support for individual projects, emotional appeal drives what 127 is able to fund for our partners. We all look for the quick-payout, and we rightly want to know that our investment is being stewarded well. So as donors, we tend to gravitate toward short-term results rather than long-term, incremental solutions. But by funding the food distribution project, we might crowd out the local leader’s goals to address the underlying causes of hunger. At 127, we want to support projects aimed toward empowerment that actually break the cycle of poverty, even when those projects don’t seem as shiny on the surface.
The PGP allows 127 to collaborate with local leaders to apply the best methods for empowering vulnerable communities instead of being tied to the project that most appeals to donors.
The second potential issue the PGP addresses is dependency. As the recipients of others’ generosity, vulnerable communities can find themselves caught in a cycle where they cannot meet their basic needs apart from western financial support. Instead of receiving the tools and resources to provide for themselves, they’re actually trapped in poverty and shackled to outside help. Our goal is for vulnerable communities to flourish by harnessing their God-given capacity to contribute to the good of their families and the larger community. Through the PGP, we work with local leaders to creatively design programs in a way that empower the vulnerable to meet their own needs instead of fostering dependency.
The Bottom Line
When 127 raises money for our Partner Grant Program, this is where it’s going. It funds our partners’ projects as decided by partners and governed by our commitments to healthy engagement and empowerment of vulnerable communities.
The moral of the Christmas morning story and the Partner Grant Program is this— giving toward a grant fund feels like getting a card with money inside when you expected to fling bows and ribbon and wrapping paper in the air to uncover the newest set of legos. On the surface, it’s just not as exciting as contributing to a specific project. Until, that is, you see the potential. When you see the way partners are able to use these grant funds to effectively care for orphans and widows, you won’t look back.
We believe that God is using local leaders to restore hope to vulnerable communities all around the world, and that belief propels us to ask ourselves regularly, “What is the healthiest way the global church can support these local leaders?” And today, a grant fund that allows 127 partners to focus on empowering the vulnerable is our best answer. If you also believe in the work God is doing through the global church, please consider giving toward our Partner Grant Fund. We can’t wait to update you on what God leads our partners to do with your investment.