Financially Supporting a Childbirth Ministry
Every ministry has costs involved in its operation, and a childbirth ministry is no exception. Without a way to ensure the needs of the ministry are met, the ministry may no longer be able to function. When developing a ministry, a source of support should be built into its design.
How much does it cost?
It's nearly impossible to guess how much your ministry is going to cost until you have decided what services you will offer. For example, if you offer a family support group your costs may be as minimal as photocopying materials and leader volunteer time. However, if you develop a childbirth education program you will have photocopying, leader volunteer time, teacher training, class materials, teaching aides and perhaps a lending library or videos. Having a precise vision about your program will help you outline the costs involved.
Do not let yourself think of everything from your program as "free," even if the time, meeting space, copying and other needs are given to you freely. It costs your supporters something to provide this equipment and services to you and you should give them the thanks they deserve. Everything you do is going to cost time and money.
Real Life Example
I have organized a very low budget volunteer doula service through my church. The doulas are all volunteer, and we receive no payment from the women we assist. Our costs have been as minimal as possible, and the sponsoring church has been very supportive of the efforts. We are provided with free meeting space to conduct meetings and train volunteers as well as free copy services.
There are still costs involved though. When we first began the program we paid a doula trainer to train the volunteers. The money for that was paid in part by the volunteers and in part by personal donations I solicited from supportive members of the church. It takes time and energy to make the brochures and handouts and forms we use, time that I donate myself. It takes even more time to build relationships with the local crisis pregnancy centers so we can met the women who need our help. Again, this is time I donate myself.
Things to Consider
As you are planning your ministry, think also of the time that you and other volunteers will need to dedicate to seeing your vision happen. Ask yourself the tough questions:
- Can I financially afford to dedicate this much time to this ministry?
- Can my family afford to have me dedicate this much time to this ministry?
If the answer to either question is no, it does not mean that you should not begin the ministry. However it might be an indicator that you should re-evaluate how God is calling you to design the program. It might also be an indicator to you of the need for a partner who will help you shoulder the responsibility.
Sources of Resources
Once you have determined the needs of your program you can look around to see what God has planned for fulfilling those needs. As you examine the possibilities, you may find God revealing to you ways to change your program to better fit his plan based on the resources available to you.
Support and Gifts
If your ministry is sponsored by your church, they may be prepared to help absorb some of the tangible costs of the ministry such as meeting space and copying of forms. If your program is not sponsored by your church, they may still be willing and able to provide you with some assistance. Find out who requests for funds should be submitted to and prepare a packet of information for the committee or individual to review.
Crisis pregnancy centers, battered women's shelters, half-way homes, maternity homes, local hospitals or doctor's offices, community centers, libraries and other organizations may also be willing to help provide you with non-financial support of your ministry. Become aware of what is in your area and contact them to see how you can partner to better meet the needs of their clients.
Do not focus solely on the financial needs of your ministry when seeking support. Remember that you may need meeting space, office space, volunteer hours, advertising, or contact lists. Let organizations know how they can help, and you will find that many will.
Not every church is able to financially support a ministry on a long term basis. When it is not an option, you can always request that a special offering be taken to accept donations directly from the members. Such offerings may be well accepted around mother's day or father's day. Funds received in this way can help offset costs for the rest of the year.
Along with solicitation of gifts, you might want to try some fundraising activities. You could do an annual dinner or sale of items to raise a large amount at one time. There are a variety of fundraising programs available through local and catalog companies.
Charging for Services
Another option available to you is to charge for services. You can charge a fee that is significantly less than for-profit services in your area which may give you just enough to cover your costs. Interestingly, some families will be more likely to use your services if there is a fee because they will perceive "free" services as less meaningful or helpful than pay-for services.