I love to go to the zoo. I like to simply hang out and watch the animals interact with each other and the guests staring at them. It’s much better than just people watching at the mall.
There are not many cities in the world that can support two zoos, let alone one. Somehow, Chicago does it. The Lincoln Park Zoo is an older, urban zoo located on the north side of downtown in the heart of the city, whereas the Brookfield Zoo is the larger, more commercialized suburban zoo. Another major difference between the two is that the Lincoln Park Zoo is absolutely free.
One thing they do have in common is that they are both incredibly successful nonprofits that understand the importance of funding their mission. Every employee in their organizations knows their mission inside and out. It doesn’t matter whether you talk to the person welcoming you at the entrance or the keeper giving pedicures to the pachyderms, all their staff members play a huge part in the mission.
Both of these zoos share certain pillars in their missions: to connect people to nature and advance conservation. It’s not about providing a great zoo experience or bringing more tourists to town. Every employee has been trained to not only know the mission but to point it out to anyone who will listen.
Generally, people coming to the zoo do not give to keep the lights on. They are not motivated by the need to pay salaries and administrative expenses. They give because they are passionate about saving wildlife. They give because the mission compels them. We in radio ministries can learn something from the Chicago zoos.
We must consistently connect giving with mission; yet, this is not always modeled well for us. I can’t begin to count the number of radio station fundraisers I’ve listened to that talk about paying the electricity and keeping the tower lights on.
I understand the need to pay for electricity and tower lights. I understand the need to pay salaries. These words, however, do not connect giving with the mission of your ministry. While they may affirm the person who is already committed to your radio station, they rarely compel the new or uncertain giver to open his or her wallet.
Giving is an act of worship. We give to glorify God. We give because God calls us to give, because the Bible tells us to, and because 2,000 years of Christian history has modeled generosity for us. We are often missing a key component that matters to people who invest in ministry—communicating how generous giving helps us to accomplish the mission God has given to us.
Our mission is far more important than that of the Lincoln Park or Brookfield Zoos. As much as I love the zoo, and as glad as I am that people work to protect and preserve the world that God gave us, the mission of reaching people with Gospel through our radio stations is even more important. Our job is to bring lost people to Jesus—to help people experience life transformation now and for eternity. Yet we are often timid about asking God’s people to give generously toward accomplishing God’s mission.
The wise radio ministry will find ways to consistently connect giving to mission. It’s vitally important to share those stories of transformed lived before “passing the plate.” Many are intentional about linking generosity directly to the success of a ministry. Our fundraising should be a celebratory time where we are invited and inspired to partner with God. People give to mission. They give to ministries that bear fruit.
Our mission is worth asking the people of God to support it with their finances.
Brian McIntyre is Ministry Director of the Shine.FM network and multi-media professor at Olivet Nazarene University. He also has served as the Global Coordinator of World Mission Broadcast since 2008 working with content creators globally to develop contextualized media. He can be reached at [email protected].