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Development is an important part of any ministry operation at any scale. Whether you're a local team leader, a professional Development, or leading your ministry at the executive level, it’s vital that we all agree on what Development is and is not.

There are three main misconceptions about Development that tend to hold us, our partners, and our coworkers back from understanding the true nature and value of Development. These misconceptions are important to address because without a basic understanding of Development at all levels of an organization, we will never get where we are hoping to go.


There is no industry-wide definition for Development, but one that we suggest your remember is given by John Frank in his book Development 101


This definition is important for us all to internalize because it highlights the reality that what we do as Development Pros is ministry. Too often, we and those we work with view Development as a “necessary evil” or the work that must be done so that the “real” ministry can be done. But when we think of Development using this definition, it’s easy to see that what we are doing is ministry in and of itself.

Watch this video of the aforementioned John Frank discussing why Development is a form of ministry:


One of the simplest ways that we can debunk this with a simple phrase: fundraising is transactional, while Development is transformational. To learn more about this concept, you can watch our video Transactional vs Transformational Fundraising from the TeamGold Institute.

Another simple rebuttal to this misconception is that Development is much larger than simply producing dollars. The idea of fundraising is essential to Development, but it’s only one slice of the Development pie. In truth, there are many essential roles and responsibilities of a seamless Development strategy. Funding ministry opportunities is only one side of the vision for Development; we also strive to care for our partners and help them to follow God's call in their lives to steward their labor, influence, finances, and expertise.


The third misconception we’d like to address is perhaps the most pervasive of them, and it’s understandable. Many Cru staff (even some Development staff) operate within the belief that Development is just support raising being done for an entire ministry. The comparison here is understandable and not entirely wrong. Here are some of the biggest similarities between MPD (the support-raising process for all supported Cru staff) and Fund Development:

  • Both involve raising money to support ministry operations

  • Both involve building relationships with partners

  • Both involve reporting to partners about the impact of their gifts

  • Both involve exposing believers to the work of Cru

So there are, indeed, a lot of similarities between MPD and Development; and because the vast majority of Cru staff have raised their own support, it makes total sense that they would see these similarities and equate the two in their mind. But just because there’s a lot of overlap between MPD and Development doesn’t mean that Cru’s Development professionals are simply doing MPD at a larger scale. Here are a few of the key differences between MPD and Development.


  • The Measurement of Success: In MPD, success is primarily measured in dollars. Sure, your MPD coach will remind you that MPD never stops and they’ll teach you about how to develop relationships with your partners, but in the end the number that determines whether you report from New Staff is a dollar amount. In contrast, we measure success in Development based on how well we are caring for Cru’s partners. We could raise all of the money in the world, but if Cru's partners aren't ministered to and mobilized to follow Jesus at a deeper level, we will have failed our mission.

  • The Foundation of Goals: Our staff’s MPD goals are set based on their particular needs of a staff family. They set a goal, work until they have met that need, and then typically pause their support raising efforts and shift into support maintaining mode. So the goal is to make sure you have the minimum amount that is necessary. Once you've reached that threshold, you can consider your job completed. When it comes to Development, though, we strive to make our goals vision-based. Supplying what the ministry needs is the low bar for a Development pro. We are constantly working to grow the partnership between Cru and our partners and to raise enough resources to make what could happen a reality (as opposed to what must happen).

  • The Extent of Our Request: When doing MPD, the thing you’re asking people to do is simple: commit to faithful, financial support. There may be instances from time to time where the partner happens to get more involved with Cru, but overall you’re only concerned with whether or not this particular person will help you to reach your support goal. For those of us in Development, though, finances are just one dimension of the way that someone can partner with us. We’re also looking for ways to get them more engaged in Cru’s ministry. The Major Partner Cycle (MPC) actually suggests that the best route for a Development Rep is usually to ask them to get involved with Cru actively and passively before you actually ask them to consider a larger gift. In general, we ask much more of partners when we're doing Development than when we're doing MPD.

  • Pitch vs Proposal: In MPD, we are almost exclusively offering fundraising pitches to our contacts. By this, we mean that the recipient and mode of the gift is set before we ever contact the person. We are asking this particular person the same thing we ask everyone: to make a financial commitment to our personal ministry whether it be monthly, one-time, annual, or another arrangement. In contrast, Development departments focus on proposals which are contextualized and individualized depending on the current needs and the capacity & inclination of the partner. In addition to this, we value finding the best place for each individual partner to get plugged into the scope of what Cru is doing. It’s not uncommon that a Rep may need with someone and realize that the partner would be much better served by connecting with an entirely different ministry of Cru. This is because our proposal is mostly focused on how God seems to be leading our partners. It’s not one-size fits all.

This isn't to say that MPD is lesser than Development or not the "right" way of doing things. Instead, the relationship they have is best seen as a cross-pollination. There are certain things that each area tends to do better than the other. Although they may be similar they should never be conflated.

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