As World Orphans becomes more involved in the funding of ongoing needs (food, clothing, education, etc.) of church-based orphan homes, we are being asked, "What does that financial relationship look like?"
Firstly, World Orphans facilitates whole-home sponsorships. Quite frankly, we don’t have the necessary resources and infrastructure to be able to match and maintain relationships between specific donors and children. We prefer to simply partner churches here with churches there. If the churches here prefer to break it down into individual child sponsorships for their congregations, they are free to do so. Regardless, we think there is a natural beauty inherent in a western church collectively taking on all the children in the home of a developing-world church that they have a special affinity for or relationship with.
Secondly, we strongly believe in the future self-sustainability of the indigenous church in caring for the orphaned and abandoned children who are placed into its home.
We don’t want to promote dependency, but also acknowledge that it is often poor churches that serve the poor areas where the orphan issue is most visible. Rarely do you see affluent churches right in the midst of the orphan problem. As such, the most strategically-positioned churches need an initial term of financial support to get things rolling. This involvement, though, should be according to a clearly-defined strategy of diminishing western funding.
Typically, we in the west have gone about it all wrong. The prevailing engagement model is to test the waters with a small amount of money and, then, when we are more comfortable about things, to send ever-increasing amounts year after year. The graph looks much like a straight line shooting off at a sharp incline. Not only is that flawed, it is dangerous.
The better graph would be an adapted bell curve. Start with some resources to thoroughly check out and establish the relationship. Do the homework on the front end to ensure that it is the right partnership and that the right accountability systems are in place. Then, and only then, send all the sufficient amounts needed to get the project off the ground in a manner that increases the probability of eventual self-sustainability. Afterwards, start weaning the indigenous partner off of western dollars during the time their own resources and capacity are growing to make up the difference.
It may never require the complete disengagement of western funds for quite some time, but there should be a correct balance…provided the right planning, communication and implementation were done on the front end.
To be continued…