Regardless of the task we volunteer for–whether high-touch personal involvement or hand-on labor or joining a nonprofit board or making a donation—we wish we had a way of knowing a few important things about the ministry. Perhaps stating some of those questions will help to open a delicate discussion.
1. Will my investment make any real difference? How will I know? How can I be assured that my involvement is having any significant impact on the lives of those I am serving? Are there any measurable outcomes, any benchmarks for tracking real change?
2. Am I really helping or is this just to make me feel good? Is this project just make-work to give my church group and me an “urban experience”? Is this more about an awareness-raising adventure for us or is this mission project really going to make a positive difference in the lives of the poor?
3. Will this be a personally meaningful experience? Will this work touch my heart, open my eyes, show me Jesus’ compassion in new ways and change my life? Please tell me that it is about more than just fellowship with my friends.
4. Does this ministry really get at the root causes? Is it a band-aid approach or is it major surgery? Serving food at the soup kitchen may keep people from starving but are you doing anything to help people with their addictions, their joblessness? Does your organization attempt to get a the underlying issues that cause poverty?
5. Will you value my time? Will you have someone there to meet us, give us a concise orientation, give us clear instructions, put us right to work, have the tools and equipment ready? Will you make efficient use of my time so that I don’t feel like I’m wasting my day standing around waiting?
6. Do you just want my money or do you really want me involved? Do you actually need more volunteers to accomplish your mission or is this a public relations tour to sell me on your program? Are you creating work for me to do as a means of getting my buy-in? If you had the choice, would you take my money or me?
7. Is this ministry cost-effective? Do you get good results from the dollars expended and how do you measure those outcomes? Do you measure activity or impact? Number of participants or number of successes? And what is success? Do you have an annual audit?
8. Are you open to change if I offer solutions or improvements? Do you really want my involvement? Do you want my insights for your work, even if it means changing some of the ways you are doing business?
9. Will you deal with me responsibly and follow through on your commitments? Can I count on you to return phone calls promptly and send requested information in a timely manner? Will you keep appointments and be up-front with me about what I can expect from you?
10. Will I get feedback on how the mission is going? Will you send me a report on the outcome of our project? Will you send me personal acknowledgments when I make donations? Will you send me periodic updates on your work?
-Robert D. Lupton in Compassion, Justice and the Christian Life, p.84-86.