Wednesday, June 05, 2013
Due to the unique way we're funded...
(Although I'm mentioning who I work for, the opinions expressed below are my own. Who else would want to own them?)
I was thinking about the BBC this morning and how we have (in my opinion) the best TV in the world because of the license fee. (For my readers not in the UK, everyone has to pay an annual license fee in order to own a TV, even if you never watch the BBC.) There's no suggestion that this fee is going to go away, but every so often the BBC subtly reminds us of the advantages of this system, saying, "due to the unique way the BBC is funded".
Mission organisations vary in the way they are funded, specifically in how individual workers get their money. Some have a common pot, some channel money directly from donors to the workers. We, Wycliffe Bible Translators UK, have the latter system (find out more at What, no salary?). There are also different ways to handle the situation when the donations don't match the need, and how the "need" is defined. In our UK headquarters office we have some employees too, as well as volunteers who don't get any money through us at all. So while the way we're funded isn't quite unique, we do have a rare mix of people.
With our upcoming move to new offices the current mix of "supported staff", employees and volunteers in the IT Department is changing, and I've been communicating various aspects of this for different purposes. As it's on my mind I thought I'd share some thoughts publicly.
I know I'm biased, but I think IT is important. As things get more technical - our cars, our washing machines, our phones - we're probably all more aware of how reliant we are on those things when they go wrong. The trouble is that it's a bit boring. Actually, that's not right, it's very boring, unless you're an IT person. So whilst I highlight some things of general interest like sign languages a lot of the stuff we do isn't that noteworthy.
We help all sorts of Wycliffe people out, not just those working in our offices, but people passing through from all over the world. We also have a number of people dotted around the UK who, thanks to the internet, are working on translation projects overseas. They don't pay for our services (unless they buy something through us, in which case they pay a small handling fee on top of cost price), in the same way that the people who benefit from their work don't pay the full cost of getting a Bible in their hands.
So someone has to pay for all this IT, but it's not as compelling as other causes. What to do?