Important financial support update (Jan 2024)

The short version of this post is that I will be closing my Stewardship account and moving to GiveSendGo. I will also be recommending people to use GiveSendGo instead of Buy Me a Coffee. If you support me via Stewardship, you will need to change to GiveSendGo. If you support via BMAC, I recommend that you switch to GiveSendGo but I’ll keep the account on BMAC so the choice is yours. If you’d like to know why, keep reading, or skip down to the bottom for what this means for you.

Moving away from Stewardship

At the start of 2019, I was still a curate and had a stipend from the Church of England. That ended in February 2019, and from then on I have been self-supporting. This is largely thanks to the generosity of people who appreciate what I do and give self-sacrificially their own hard-earned money to support me. (Thank you so much!) For the last few years I have used an organisation called Stewardship. They are a Christian organisation, and they facilitate the fundraising. One very useful thing they do is to claim back gift aid on any donations, making the value of the donation that much greater than it would be otherwise.

One of the features of Stewardship is that they vet everyone who receives donations – they check that you are working for a bona fide organisation, or – if you are working for yourself – that you have an accountability group. This gives donors confidence that the money they are giving is not being used to fund holidays in the Bahamas, or something like that! This is also partly to satisfy HMRC, who I think need to ensure that the Gift Aid money they are giving back is being used appropriately.

Stewardship have done a good job for us over the last few years and I can’t fault them. However, I believe the time has come for me to move away from Stewardship. There are several reasons for this, but the thing which precipitated my decision was receiving an email from them the other day saying they needed to update my account in order to continue with them. In particular, they need to fulfil their requirement to HMRC to make sure that the Gift Aid money I am receiving is being used well, and so they need to re-check my circumstances / support group etc. This made me realise that my circumstances have changed a fair bit since 2019, and I don’t think I can in good conscience continue with them:

  • When I signed up in 2019, I was spending about three days per week working for a church. Although it was unpaid we made a formal agreement, so I did have a written working agreement with the vicar. Of course, that somewhat went out of the window during lockdown but then so did everything! Nonetheless, up until last year I had a formal relationship with an ‘official’ organisation. It’s now nearly a year since we left the church, so of course that aspect of things has changed substantially.
  • My work now is much more ‘freelance’. I still spend plenty of time on Understand the Bible, but I also do the Sacred Musings podcast as well as lead our house church. It would be very hard to get a support group together for all three things. I did have a group for Understand the Bible, however that’s fallen by the wayside over the last year for various reasons. Part of the problem is being able to find people I can trust – I don’t think there are many people who would want to support me in Sacred Musings, for example, and that did come up as an issue from time to time in our meetings. I just don’t think there are many people who share my vision at the moment, so it’s hard to find people who I can trust to be accountable to! I do have friends who I can and do talk to, but I don’t have a formal arrangement (and neither, at this stage, do I think I need one).
  • Stewardship wanted to know if I needed to do safeguarding and check that I had completed the appropriate training. Given my views on safeguarding, this is another red flag for me.

In summary, it feels to me that Stewardship are far too much ‘in the system’ – not least because of their relationship with HMRC. If I’m honest, I’m a bit worried that at any moment someone could write to them and say “do you know that Phill Sacre, who is being funded via Stewardship, is promoting conspiracy theories on the internet?” – and they would drop me. I also feel more and more uncomfortable taking money from the government, even via Gift Aid. Therefore, I have decided to move from Stewardship to GiveSendGo.

Moving to GiveSendGo

GiveSendGo are a crowdfunding company a bit like GoFundMe. The Triggernometry podcast has recently been featuring adverts for GiveSendGo, and the most important headline is that they are dedicated to free speech: you may remember the Canadian Truckers protest from a year or two back, when truckers in Canada were protesting against the vaccine mandates. They were using GoFundMe to raise money, but GFM decided to drop them and were even for a while going to give the money to other charities they deemed worthy. Fortunately they relented and returned the money. Even more fortunately, GiveSendGo stepped in! This is what they had to say at the time:

As a free speech crowdfunding platform, we believe you have the right to raise money for what you believe in and donate to who you want to support. We treat you like the adults you are. It’s not our job to control what you do with your hard-earned money.

Isn’t that incredible! A few years ago this kind of thing would have been normal, but sadly today this is rare. I feel that I can trust GiveSendGo to fundraise, without worrying about someone complaining to them that I’m saying things on the internet that other people don’t like. Plus, I’d really like to support them – I think free-speech organisations should be promoted and supported. So I think it’s a win-win situation.

Another thing I didn’t realise about GiveSendGo is that they are a Christian organisation. They are explicit about this on their front page, where they say:

Raise money to share hope. Money is temporary Jesus is eternal. Give both and watch the world be changed.

Isn’t that amazing? They not only believe in freedom and free speech, but they also believe in Jesus and the gospel! I feel like I can have confidence in them as an organisation.

The only downside about them is that they can’t collect Gift Aid, which – as I have already said – I don’t mind too much about: I am becoming more and more uncomfortable with taking money from the government. I would rather take the financial hit and not be beholden to the government.

What this means for you

If you give via Stewardship: Please cancel your giving with Stewardship and set it up via GiveSendGo. I will be writing to Stewardship to ask them to close my account, but I won’t do this immediately – but hopefully it will be closed by the end of next month (February 2024) – so if you could do this sooner rather than later, that would be really helpful.

If you give via Buy Me a Coffee: there are few people who give regularly via BMAC. From now on I will not be recommending BMAC but directing people to GiveSendGo instead. You don’t need to do anything – I’ll keep my BMAC account open – but if you would like to please cancel your gift on BMAC and move to GSG instead. I think GSG take a slightly smaller cut than BMAC, plus I would like to support GSG as much as possible.

If you would like to start supporting me where you haven’t before, please use GiveSendGo.

All that remains is for me to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to all of you who have supported me in lots of different ways. Since 2019 I have learned the value of what Jesus says in Matthew 6:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Matthew 6:33

I hope that you know you are playing a part in God’s provision for me and my family, and I pray that the Lord blesses you for your generosity. Thanks so much, and thank you for reading this.


Comments

6 responses to “Important financial support update (Jan 2024)”

  1. Mr John Corcoran avatar
    Mr John Corcoran

    Hello Phil,
    I belong to an organisation called CMFI, Christian Ministerial Fellowship International. You can check the details on their website. It could suit you but wise to check.

    1. Thank you John – I will have a look!

  2. Liz Kilbride avatar
    Liz Kilbride

    I’m sorry Phil. This site has me totally confused!

    1. Which site – GiveSendGo? What is it about it that’s confusing?

  3. Adam and Martine avatar
    Adam and Martine

    Great decision Phil. Thanks for making your thinking so clear and visible for us Give Send Go sound great and what a bonus that they are Christian too! Praise God! As soon as we can reorganise and sort our Christian giving out again for the year ahead we plan to give £25 a month to you and become more regular reliable givers rather than one off ad hoc buy me a coffees. We so appreciate your work and please don’t be disheartened that so few share your vision for narrow is the way and we are in a similar boat. Praying on for you and yours, a blessed 2024!🙏🏾With love and prayers as always from Adam and Martine.xxx

    1. Thank you both. That’s really kind of you and I do so appreciate it. I’m very conscious that these are not easy times for people financially, and so any money that people give counts double!

      I was encouraged the other day by a friend sharing a Spurgeon quote with me. She reminded me that Spurgeon faced battles and felt alone some of the time. And it made me remember that many of the people God had used throughout history have faced battles alone. That said, as I covered in my sermon on Sunday from Romans 11, God told Elijah he has reserved 7000 who have not bowed the knee to Baal. It is the same today – there is a faithful remnant.

      God bless you! Phill x

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