It’s time to vote competition off the island

I love when an idea that’s central in my teaching, writing, and consulting on fundraising is confirmed in the words of a thought leader admired by millions. I beam with satisfaction knowing my message will be amplified many times over by the reach of a significant other — someone like organizational guru and blogger par excellence Seth Godin, for example.

outline_heads_teamwork_idea_12328In a short post titled “Plenty of room on the island,” Godin presents a lovely apologetic for what I refer to as the non-compete clause in faith-based fundraising. Okay, so Godin’s post has nothing to do with fundraising or faith, but it’s a hop, skip, and an easy jump from his point to mine.

Godin writes:

. . . if there’s more good stuff, more people enter the market, the culture gets better, more good work is produced and enjoyed, more people enter the market, and on and on.

So encouraging and promoting the work of your fellow artists, writers, tweeters, designers, singers, painters, speakers, instigators and leaders isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s smart as well.

Thom Jeavons and I wrote In Growing Givers’ Hearts: Treating Fundraising as Ministry:

Ministry-centered development programs reflect a confidence that comes from operating with a clearly identified ‘kingdom niche,’ and as a result staffs are not threatened by the existence of other good causes or even similar institutions. . . Exemplary fundraising programs are grounded in the confidence that God’s goodness is great enough to encompass the whole of religious activity and that God has no favorite causes.

When Christian fundraisers recognize the need to make room for God to work in donors’ hearts, they very soon discover that if there is any encouragement in being united in Christ, it is encouragement to work in harmony with other faithful people. God’s abundance is sufficient to enable all God’s people to do God’s work as it needs to be done now.

Amen to Godin’s assurance that complimenting rather competing with the work of others is right and smart. With all the opportunities and challenges waiting to be tackled, we’re wrong to fret about the nonprofit or ministry down the street.

It’s time to vote competition off the island. There’s plenty of room for all.

For more on the value of cooperation over competition, see:

Finding fundraising as ministry in Luke’s gospel

Riding the collaboration bandwagon

Shared governance and the cooperation instinct




  1. Carol Lytch says:

    Rebekah, This is a timely posting that underscores what you have said already and grounded in Christian faith. In Lancaster we have the ExtraGive on Friday. 270 non-profits will “compete” for donations to be made online in a 24 hour period. It is essential that we don’t “compete!”

    • Carol, events like “Giving Tuesday” and Lancaster’s ExtraGive Friday are a mixed bag, at one level pitting nonprofits against each other in pursuit of gifts on one day. On the other hand, these sorts of emphases also lift up all nonprofits and the good that giving is. I hope the louder message of the days is cooperation over competition, but it’s hard to control what people hear. That said, I hope this coming Friday brings an outpouring of amazing support for Lancaster Theological Seminary.

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