Why is GMI closing?

GMI is committed to transparency. And while some of the reasons why GMI was not able to survive these tumultuous times will never be fully understood, there are some things that are easy to explain. I will try to do that in this short article. I write this out of a desire to share with our key stakeholders around the world all that we did to steward the resources you entrusted to us. I also hope that this explanation serves as insight into the reality of sustaining missions research.

 

GMI has always lived on the edge. If you ask any of the founding GMI staff, they will share with you stories of the great challenge it has been to sustain an independent mission research organization. I have listened to stories of great personal sacrifice and amazing commitment by many of those involved over the years. The reason for this is simple: raising funds for the personal support of missionary researchers or the overall operations of a research organization is very challenging. GMI requires highly skilled experts to invest long periods of time in doing ministry that is behind the scenes and whose impact is difficult to demonstrate.

 

But that is no excuse. God called us to it and He has provided over the years through many of you reading this article as you have faithfully given, purchased products, and contracted with GMI for research services.

 

Over the past decade GMI has been transitioning from a small research and development organization to a mid-sized service organization. We have been working on this transition because those we serve have said they need it, and because our sustainability was dependent on it. Over these years, we have been diversifying our revenue with three main sources of income:

  1. Donations: We receive donations toward personal support, projects and our general operations.
  2. Sales: We sell products developed out of our research efforts. These are sold mostly to ministries, but also to others who might benefit from some of the valuable information.
  3. Services: We provide custom research services to ministries who require a third-party to do the research on their behalf.

I’m happy to report that all three of these revenue streams were working as we strived to grow. We have seen growth in new sources of donations, sales, and services. The problem is that each source was growing too slowly. As we pushed forward to grow into what we felt ministries needed from us, the ability of our stakeholders to fund our products and services did not match the effort required to develop, distribute, and service them.

 

Now some might wonder, “GMI sounds more like a business than a ministry.” All of our work and its outcomes have always focused solely on our nonprofit purpose according to our 501c3 Articles of Incorporation. We have regularly had our finances audited by Capin Crouse and have made our audit and 990 available for any of our stakeholders . The difference is that in today’s changing times, nonprofits are delivering that ministry with different models. While every cent of our funds goes into ministry, sometimes that money doesn’t come from donations but comes instead from the sale of products and services. All the proceeds from those other sources is simply put back into doing the ministry work with no profits generated.

 

Even with these creative and diversified revenue streams, GMI simply limped along with barely the funds needed. We did not have the capital in place to make each of these ways of funding its ministry positioned for success. Without general funding to update technology, hire staff and market the ministry products and services, we could never generate enough activity to move beyond survival to sustainability.

 

This is not anyone’s fault. Our team worked hard, our loyal donors, customers and clients looked for every opportunity to integrate GMI into their giving and purchasing. We have had many thought leaders and influencers advocate for us and encourage others to use our ministry services. But in the end those efforts did not yield enough.

 

At the same time, the GMI Board had the challenging job of considering how long an overworked staff and an under-resourced organization should go on. In the process of making that decision, the board considered mergers, acquisitions, major donor investments and other creative solutions. In the end, none of those options yielded a viable solution. And so I wrap up this article asking you to thank God for all the ways He has provided over 33 years of ministry and pray for how God will continue the cause of knowledge stewardship beyond GMI’s existence as an organization.

 

In Him,


Jon Hirst
Jon.hirst(at)gmi.org