BGU’s Practices to Ensure Charity that Creates Health, not Harm
Financial Update - May, 2022

As BGU nears its fiscal year end, we are seeking to meet our budget goals with $50,000 additional donations before June 30. Please pray if God would prompt you to give toward that need. Any amount is helpful so please don’t hesitate even if you feel your gift is inadequate. God has sustained BGU through small and large gifts in ways that cause us to be amazed at His goodness.

When Dallas City Square founder Larry James replaced suburban volunteers in his urban food pantry with paid workers from the immediate neighborhood, he was confronted by objections, “What if they steal food as they distribute it?” Larry’s response, “What is worse, stealing a can of corn, or stealing a person’s dignity by denying them a job?”

There are many givers in the world who have the money and the sincere desire to give donations to make a significant difference. There are many people living in poverty who are masters at survival, display profound generosity with very little, and are geniuses of finding long-term solutions that uniquely fit their context. Yet somehow in the bridge between giver and receiver, a false dependency can develop, givers can feel taken advantage of and receivers can lose self-respect.

Brian Fikkert’s book, When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor...and Yourself is a staple resource that every BGU student reads. Other resources include BGU Board of Regents member Bob Lupton’s Toxic Charity and Charity Detox series, Froswa Booker Drew’s new book Empowering Charity, and Rob Martin’s When Money Goes on Mission.

There are common principles in these books that BGU has worked hard to not just teach, but also to employ in their own giving and receiving.

First, 70% of BGU’s finances come from fees. Every student pays at least 50% of the cost of their education, even if they come from a least-developed economies such as Bangladesh or Sudan.  Students from developed economies pay full price to support those who can’t pay 100%, but then they get the benefit of having students (often from over 8 different time zones) in their courses. They don’t just study about the world, they study with the world.

There is a healthy accountability when a student making sacrificial payments understands they are a “customer” and it is their right and responsibility to point out how BGU can improve in serving them. This creates a culture of listening and constant improvement not often seen in educational institutions relying heavily on scholarships.

Second, BGU offers extensive fundraising coaching to students and potential students. This coaching helps them learn that fundraising is not begging when done with biblical principles. Instead, it is a journey of disciple-making for themselves and others in one of the most difficult areas of discipleship: money. It may start as transactional, but as relationship building and prayer are prioritized, it becomes a communion of giving and receiving; a sustained and enjoyable interdependence between the giver and the receiver. This coaching is focused on local fundraising – how to connect with givers in their own community as a way to build the trust that comes from local accountability as they also approach global donors.

Third, BGU operates lean. Faculty and staff located around the world serve at local pay rates. The BGU campus offers few frills but is totally adequate to fulfill the requirements of US accreditation and serve students well. BGU’s unique Joy at Work decentralized decision-making processes provide clear accountability without the wasted time and energy often seen in university committee processes. There are many sacrifices made throughout the BGU family to allow global students from so many diverse economies to participate.

Fourth, BGU’s mission includes breaking down silos between church, business, and community by having students in the colleges of business, Christian theology and urban studies study together in the same classes. This means pastors learn how to equip people called to business. Also, most pastors in the world are bi-vocational, and BGU helps them grow in their ability as “tent-makers” to initiate new businesses to serve their communities. Non-profit leaders learn effective accountability, reporting, and organizational structures more often found in businesses. Business leaders learn how to build their purpose and products around making significant differences in their communities. Every student spends significant time learning more about their God-given giftedness and calling and applying that in jobs that provide self-respect in light of knowing God’s work in their lives.

We are always seeking to improve how we steward donations to BGU better and better. It is our curriculum, our call and our mission.

Link to GIVING