When Brad Hillman began leading the People Resources Team (PRT) in September 2012, great things were happening through their ministry: wounded missionaries were being restored and returned to their field, marriages were being healed, and staff were being set free from the enemy’s defeating lies.
Yet, Brad also saw how the PRT members, in giving so much to the spiritual and emotional health of Navigator staff, were themselves neglecting an important area of ministry...finances.
Brad knew the long-term effectiveness of the team depended on the individuals’ ability and availability to minister. And with many of them hurting financially, soon the team was headed for trouble. Having been through difficult times with his own fundraising in the past, Brad also knew that helping the members of the PRT turn things around would take strength, honesty, and care.
“Part of leadership is wrestling with the truth rather than living with a lie. We chose to take steps and set boundaries, but we also listened to the hearts of the people [on the team],” Brad said. Brad led the PRT through a 10-month initiative to transform the funding health of the PRT. This is their experience.
Q: Brad, what were your observations about the financial health of your team in the fall of 2012?
A: Our team included 29 people and represented 22 full-time accounts. I reviewed the team’s reports and discovered that 70% of the team was in deficit, some more than $10,000. Most of the team did not have a funding coach or a plan, and they felt alone and defeated in MPD.
Time was also a factor. All knew they had permission to spend time raising support, but somehow they didn’t feel like they should take time. And, to my surprise, many on the team were unaware of their financial situation—like a piece of tape over the check engine light.
Q: What was your first step in helping your team turn the situation around?
A: I asked one of our staff, Gregg Elmendorf, to spend 50% of his time coaching and developing funding plans with our team members, shepherding them, and creating accountability. This required a major commitment from Gregg, but he was willing and capable.
Next, we implemented the policy that if a team member was 25% of his/her salary in deficit, he/she would spend 25% of his/her time on MPD.
We also rearranged the department workloads to free up people for MPD. Those who didn’t need to spend as much time on MPD would carry the load in the office for those who did need to focus on MPD. Everyone on the team was extremely gracious and accommodating to help each other during this season. That’s the only way this could be successful.
Q: Many people need the “dangling carrot” as motivation. Did you offer incentives as well?
A: Definitely. I tried hard to balance the “2’x4’” with the “carrot.” If a staff was in deficit 25% for three months in a row, PRT reduced their salary by 25% (50%/50%, etc.). When that decision had to be enforced, I would contact that person, see how he was doing, and encourage him to focus on the “unseen” mountain (raising monthly support), not the “visible” mountain (deficit). Then I would make this commitment: for every 10 face-to-face appointments he held, the department would reduce his deficit by 10%--no matter the outcome. This “carrot” helped to staff focus on the right “mountain.”
Q: How could PRT afford this?
A: How could we not? The weight of deficit hinders the Gospel and fruitfulness. The time people spent on MPD wasn’t lost; it was spent “on mission” increasing the team’s effectiveness.
Q: Were there other ways the whole team showed support to people focusing on MPD?
A: Yes, the whole team got involved. We met once a month to pray for people individually. Gregg and I contacted people personally to encourage them. And the team rallied around those focusing on MPD. We wanted people to feel cared for as well as challenged and accountable to raise their full support.
Q: What attitudes did you hope to change?
A: I wanted our team to know that MPD is a priority. Our team is passionate about what they do, so I needed them to commit to raising support so they can meet with a couple who is about to get a divorce…so they can lead someone to spiritual freedom, etc. Fundraising is key to long-term ministry.
Q: How did the team receive your leadership in this area?
A: Those with the deepest deficits have thanked me the most. The staff have told me they felt valued through this season rather than punished.
Q: How is the funding health of your team today?
A: Today only one team member is deficit. That being said, some of our team members have reduced their salary, but we’re pushing them to increase. Being a Navigator doesn’t mean taking a vow of poverty. And we’re committed to moving everyone on our team toward financial health and freedom.