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Initial Research Findings. Oxford Initiative. Overview. The Oxford Initiative is an international collaborative effort to address the often-confusing and ever-shifting dynamics between financial resources and field ministries

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  • The Oxford Initiative is an international collaborative effort to address the often-confusing and ever-shifting dynamics between financial resources and field ministries
  • To improve the quality of partnership relationships of those involved in global mission.

Leaders from various sectors throughout the body of Christ, including western funders and senior non-western members of the Lausanne movement, have called for a process to bring some semblance of balance and order to the sometimes acrimonious and often confusing interaction between financial resources and missions.

  • Initial meeting in Oxford (November 2006)
  • Lausanne meeting in Budapest (June 2007)
  • Rob Martin and C.B. Samuel were asked to co-chair a process to develop a “widely-embraced standard”
  • Global Mapping International conducted initial research to explore the cross-cultural sharing of money in mission partnership
  • The Oxford Initiative seeks to create
    • a widely embraced set of principles/guidelines
    • for use by donors and implementers alike
    • to bring about a true unity and communion of purpose for Kingdom work.
initial research objectives
Initial Research Objectives

To determine:

    • How serious an issue is this within missions today?
    • What are the key aspects?
    • What, if any, additional localized research should be conducted?
  • The initial research was designed to document and understand the problem, not to discover solutions
literature research methodology
Literature Research Methodology
  • Identify English language works relevant to the topic of sharing money in cross-cultural mission partnership
  • Compile an annotated bibliography:
        • Books
        • Journal articles
        • Websites
        • Partnership guidelines, MOUs
        • Associations
        • Conference proceedings
        • Research reports and dissertations
field research methodology
Field Research Methodology
  • Online survey to explore perspectives and attitudes of a sample of evangelical leaders around the world
        • 45% were from in donor organizations
        • 55% were from in implementing organizations
    • Participants invited from:
        • 2007 Lausanne international leadership gathering (Budapest)
        • 2008 Lausanne Resource Mobilization Working Group meeting
        • 2008 COSIM conference
    • A total of 147 people completed the survey
        • representing 40% of those invited to participate
key findings
Key Findings
  • The sharing of money in cross-cultural ministry partnership is a substantial issue that warrants serious attention, study, discussion and resources.
  • While most survey respondents say they are satisfied with their own policies and practices …
  • The majority say that issues of unity, trust and respect between donors and implementers are serious enough to warrant major attention.
  • Younger respondents are somewhat more likely than older ones to see monetary partnerships as being challenging.
missiological messiness
  • This is a genuinely complex matter that defies simple description or easy solutions.
  • A great deal of wrestling with missiological issues is going on and the debate about the best strategy for using (or not using) foreign money in mission is far from over.
    • Some have solved the matter to their own satisfaction and are vigorously promoting one position while warning against others.
    • It remains to be seen which model will win general acceptance or if there may be several competing models, each appropriate for some settings but not others.
existing literature resources
  • Excellent and helpful resources exist and are readily available
    • from the missions community as well as from the broader non-profit and donor communities
    • including covenants, guidelines and principles.
  • These existing resources need to be better publicized within missions.
  • There appears to be few dissertations or theses on money and partnership in mission.
    • It would be beneficial to have more graduate studies done on this issue from a missiological perspective.
accessing the literature
Accessing the literature
  • Oxford Initiative report provides quick access to the most helpful items
  • Annotations (to help users decide which resource are most relevant) include:
    • description
    • stance (author’s perspective)
    • value (relevance to OI issues)
  • Key resources are highlighted
donor vs implementer perspectives
Donor vs. implementer perspectives

Donor perspectives did not differ greatly from implementer perspectives; however…

  • Donors want implementers
    • to be more careful with documentation
    • to communicate more frequently, openly and relationally.
  • Implementers wish donors
    • better understood their local ministry context
    • relied less on metrics.
benefit of written principles
  • A slight majority (58%) of respondents agree that codifying principles of cross-cultural financial partnerships would be beneficial.
  • But nearly 40% are unsure about the potential benefit.
four attitude segments

The survey identified four attitude segments:

  • those who feel that partnership is proceeding well given the inherent challenges
  • those who feel that the root of the issue is spiritual (and therefore unlikely to be solved through a procedural code)
  • those advocating for changes in structures and policies
  • those advocating for changes in interpersonal relationships and cultural perspectives
two competing dimensions
Two competing dimensions

These attitude segments can be summed up in two dimensions:

  • The Need to Use Power Wisely


The Need to Use Policy Wisely

  • The Need to Be Willing to Change Perspective


The Need to Acknowledge Situational Realities

ingredients for successful partnership
Ingredients for successful partnership

Survey respondents say that key ingredients for success in cross-cultural partnerships include:

  • trust
  • mutual respect
  • accountability
  • transparency
ingredients for successful partnership1
Ingredients for successful partnership
  • Both donors and implementers believe that implementers are willing to be held accountable for their use of funds...
  • But the way that works itself out in practice leaves something to be desired in terms of
    • consistent communication/reporting
    • use of meaningful metrics
    • the temptation to inflate results in order to leverage additional grants.
possible future research
Possible future research
  • 70% feel that follow-up localized research would produce important insights
    • Focus groups
    • Depth interviews
    • Surveys
  • The majority feel that this would result in a significant positive impact on collaboration.
  • A neutral, unbiased team of local researchers, led by social science experts, should engage all stakeholder groups.
get involved
Get Involved

Next steps are currently being planned in the Oxford Initiative process. We welcome your input and involvement.

Contact Information

Oxford Initiative Executive Committee Co-Chairs:

Rob Martin: (949) 720-3774

C.B. Samuel:

Oxford Initiative Research

Mike O’Rear: 719-531-3599