Before You Start a 501c3
We're excited to bring a post today from Doug Gehman, NGA member and President of Globe International. NGA and Globe created a partnership over a year ago with the express purpose of helping NGA members go further in ministry without the headache of having to start and run a 501c3. You can find out more on the Globe + NGA Collaborative page, but first, hear from Doug some of the benefits!
Ministry startups are tricky. On one hand, the United States makes starting a non-profit organization very easy. It is a simple matter of filing paperwork with two government entities: the Federal government (i.e. the Internal Revenue Service), and the State where the ministry will be located. Some States make the process easier than others, but overall, establishing a 501c3 organization is fairly straight-forward. There are costs involved, and you often need an attorney to assist you. To its credit, the US revenue code was built on principles of volunteerism and charitable giving, so, while these values are being challenged and eroded today, the laws are still in place, and the process still works.
The bigger challenge for startups is the management of a newly formed non-profit. Most visionaries hate management: paperwork, financial reports, donor communications, office time, writing, designing, printing, and mailing newsletters, payroll and paying bills, etc.
Visionaries (as most evangelists are) like field work, not office administration.
And that’s the rub.
A better approach, for most most visionaries, is to launch your vision under the auspices of an established ministry that can help with administrative services, offer a reputation of integrity, and provide a culture of empowerment to get things going. This can be a local church or another non-profit organization like a mission agency.
At Globe International we do this all the time.
A relationship with Globe International eliminates the need for a non-profit organization and all its setup and administration. Globe is an established 501c3 organization with forty-plus years of experience serving evangelists, missionaries, and startup ministries. We have been members of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) since 1983. We have state-of-the-art systems – donor and financial management, publishing design and printing, database management and mailing, and financial reporting – all housed in a ten-thousand-square-foot building run by full and part time staff who are dedicated to releasing and empowering vision on a global scale. We have people in over forty nations! When it comes to ministry work – and the services and assistance needed to advance vision – we know what we are doing.
Globe charges a ten percent admin fee for the services we provide, but in reality, that's a deal. Think of it this way: How much would it cost you in time, money and energy to hire and manage a staff to do all the admin work? Realistically speaking, until your ministry grows to an income level of at least $300,000 per year ($500,000 is even better) you will need to rely on volunteers to manage your administration. If you can’t find volunteers, you must do the work yourself. Until then, your better option is to work with a church or an agency like Globe International who can serve your vision.
Another blessing of working under the auspices of a ministry like Globe is you join a family of national and international people and their ministries who love Jesus Christ and are all working to advance the Gospel! You get to share in their joys, challenges, victories, and energy! You have opportunities to collaborate! They help open doors to your vision. What’s not to like?!
In Matthew 16, after Peter’s profound confession about who Jesus is, Jesus replied to Peter, “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” In some ways, this promise is a metaphor for our commitment to ministry. We “bind” things on earth through the organizational commitments we make and the legal documents we create and sign. We “loose” things on earth through the serious work we do to advance the cause of Christ through our faith and obedience in preaching the Gospel. And God responds! He binds and looses things and people for the advancement of His Kingdom.
At Globe International we are committed to excellence in this process. One of our values is: “Anything worth doing, is worth doing well.” That means we join hands with the best people we can find and surround ourselves with the best counsel we can get. And through those connections, we help build the strongest, most enduring, and most fruitful ministries possible. We would love to help your ministry in this way!
So, before you start a 501c3, consider the other options. Seek out godly counsel from trusted and experienced people who are DOING WHAT YOU WANT TO DO, people who have walked the road longer, have had more impact, and can offer experienced advice and assistance. There are a lot of such folks at NGA and Globe International. Let us lend you a hand!
Doug has been the President of Globe International since 2004. From 1978 to 1993, He and his wife Beth Ann served as missionaries to Asia where they founded AsiaNet Ministries, a crusade and church planting ministry in Thailand and Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka, the Gehmans and their team helped start more than 35 churches among Tamil tea estate workers, a church planting movement that has now grown to over 90 congregations and nearly 35,000 members. Doug attended Goshen College and Fuller Theological Seminary, and earned Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Missions at Liberty Christian University. The Gehmans have four married children and ten grandchildren.