All charities seem to offer “incredible impact” and talk about transformed lives. But what does that mean? And is it true? In this Q&A, we explain how our approach, and your donations, change lives.
We believe that five things help us achieve greater impact.
1. Holistic Approach
We believe that at its core, poverty is a results of broken relationships. A broken relationship with God, within ourselves, between individuals, and with creation. Therefore, any attempt to address poverty effectively must be holistic and focus on more than just the economic aspect of poverty, but the spiritual, social, and emotional aspects as well.
Our model of working through the churches, to empower people to escape poverty using their own God-given resources and abilities, reflects this theology. Through it, people learn that they are loved by God and have value. They no longer need to depend on “handouts” and learn how they can escape poverty using their abilities. Relationships within the community get built up and conflict and violence decreases. The community begins to thrive.
The local church is in the centre of it all, acting as light and salt to its community. They strive to follow the great commandments to “love God and love their neighbours” and peoples lives become truly transformed.
To learn more about a holistic approach check out the book “When Helping Hurts“
Or watch the videos here:
2. No Handouts
Unlike many organizations, Tearfund barely hands out “stuff.” The only exception is in disaster situations where there the need is urgent and life threatening. Instead, we work alongside the people we serve to help them identify and grow the assets and talents that God has already given them. This could be a plot of land, the ability to cook wonderfully, access to timber, or a number of things.
For example, by providing a farmer with conservation agriculture training, we can help improve their yield by 3 to 4 times! Or through Saving Groups and Loans, we can help a family save significant amounts of money that can finance new businesses or pay for education.
Training in a community typically lasts for two years. Afterwards, the farmers are 100% self-sufficient, and even begin to train others! This allows us to move onto the next community to help lift more people out of poverty.
3. Local Partnerships
Tearfund does not send any staff abroad to work on projects long-term. Instead we work through local churches and agencies as to implement programs. This has several benefits.
- It is more effective: Locals are fluent in the local language and understand local contexts better than any foreigner. They are able to achieve better true “buy-in” by locals which leads to a more sustainable project.
- It costs less: It costs far less to work with locals who already live in the country than to send foreigners with North American salaries, insurance, benefits, and flights. This money can be used to employ more people in program implementation or buy essential items.
4. Working with the Church
As mentioned, we believe that at its root, poverty is a result of broken relationships caused by sin. And an effective long-term solution must be holistic. We work with local churches because they are God’s chosen method of bringing His restoration on earth and the only organization uniquely qualified to bring spiritual restoration.
Working with local churches also has many pragmatic benefits including:
- Reach: local churches are found everywhere – from big cities to the most isolated regions
- Access: the church is deeply embedded in the community with wide networks and access to resources.
- Cultural understanding: the church understands local customs, needs and attitudes
- Trust and influence: churches and pastors are often trusted leaders in the community, who can influence mindsets and create lasting change
- Longevity: the church remains long after outside non-government organizations leave
5. Lean Team
Finally, to make sure as much money goes to helping the poor as possible, we continuously look for new ways to do more with less. This involves the utilization of student interns and volunteers to supplement work, doing more work in-house rather than hiring expensive consultants, and re-evaluating vendors in order to achieve the most competitive prices.
Collectively these differences help us truly transform lives for the long-term. To read some of the lives you have helped to change, please click below.