Category Archives: Donor relationships

Accountability cuts both ways

(Written in 2015, by Eddie Arthur)

A few days ago, I wrote a post which suggested that it is unhealthy when Western
Christians use their funds to control how the Church in the rest of the world
grows, develops and theologises.

Predictably, there were some responses saying that there has to be financial
accountability. Obviously, there need to be controls and agreements to ensure that
money is used in an honest and transparent fashion; that goes without saying, but
when people talk about accountability, they generally mean much more than this.
In effect it is the modern way of expressing the old saying “he who pays the piper
calls the tune”.

To compound things further, accountability is almost always one way. Those who
are receiving funds have to meet targets, fill in forms, prove compliance with
objectives and jump through all sorts of other hoops, but there are rarely any
similar constraints placed on the funders.

Before you read on, it may be worth looking at this article from the Guardian,
which illustrates some rather dodgy fund-raising practices. It would be nice to
think that Christian organisations are immune from these sorts of things; but in
my experience they are not. Indeed, Christian organisations can be worse because
they add a layer of spiritual gloss to their stories which increases the pathos, if
not the veracity.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions for accountability standards that
should be placed on Christian funders in the West by organisations and churches
in the developing world.

• You will tell our stories and use our photographs honestly and accurately.
• You will not portray us as people who are unable to help ourselves or to do
anything without aid from the West.
• You will not use our stories or photographs to build contingency or
administrative funds for your organisation.
• You will not use disasters in our area (or anywhere else for that matter) to
raise the profile of your organisation or to raise funds for other parts of the
• Good relationships are always mutual. You have to learn to receive
blessings from us, just as we have to be humble to receive finance from

Simon commented on my earlier piece:

What’s particularly interesting is that in a discussion about *partnership*, the only thing people have talked about is who gives *money* to whom.

I make no apology for this. Simon is implying that there is far more to life and
partnership than finance (see my last bullet point, above) and he is dead right.
But money is particularly important in many situations because it is used as an
instrument of power and influence and has the power to distort partnerships and

By Eddie Arthur

See related text here: