Tearfund Speakers D1

How do I handle
difficult questions?
Tips to help you deal with difficult issues that your
audience may raise when you communicate about Tearfund

 To start with…

 Have you ever been asked a question about Tearfund which you were unable to answer? Do
 certain difficult questions often arise when you speak on behalf of Tearfund? Would you like
 some help in dealing with comments which appear critical of our work?
 This sheet will help you feel prepared for tackling difficult questions and provide possible
 answers for some that often arise.

 The essentials

General principles                                       Avoid getting into long, drawn-out debates.
                                                         This is particularly important in group
   Be gracious. The tone of your response is as
                                                         situations. After a few minutes, if it is clear
   important as what you say. If you come
                                                         that the issue will not be resolved quickly,
   across as defensive or aggressive, people
                                                         draw a line under it and offer other people
   may feel you have something to hide.
                                                         the opportunity to ask questions.
   Clarify what the person is asking. If you
                                                      Answers      to    some     frequently       asked
   misunderstand     someone’s      question     or
   comment you can think it is more critical
   than they intend. Feeding back to them what        Is Tearfund really Christian?
   you think they are asking, to check it is right,           Tearfund, and all our UK staff, subscribes
                                                              to the Evangelical Alliance Basis of Faith.
   helps to prevent confusion. It also shows that
                                                              We only work through evangelical
   you are taking their question seriously.
                                                              Christian partner organisations.
   Try to agree with at least some of what the                We believe passionately in integral
                                                              mission: addressing spiritual and physical
   questioner has said. A dismissive response is
   unhelpful and unconvincing. Acknowledging
   that there are elements of truth in a question     Is Tearfund just about proselytising and
   helps to establish common ground, making it        converting people who are vulnerable?
                                                      No. Tearfund offers help to people of all faiths
   easier to answer the rest of the question.
                                                      and none, with no strings attached. Coercive
   Admit ignorance when you don’t know the            proselytism says to a poor person: ‘I will give
                                                      you this bread to eat, if you sign up to my
   answer. This is much better than trying to
                                                      religion.’ It applies conditions and undermines
   bluff your way through. Offer to find out the      people’s dignity. Tearfund believes it is utterly
   answer or suggest someone the person could         wrong to exploit vulnerable people in this way.
   contact.                                           Such exploitation would be incompatible with:
                                                              Christ’s example. Christ stood with
                                                              people who were marginalised and
                                                                                     Last updated 08/06/2007
       suffering injustice. He demonstrated                        Is Tearfund too political?
       compassion and love. He did not                                     Over recent years Tearfund has increased
       manipulate. When Jesus fed people with                              the amount of effort put into influencing
       loaves and fishes he did not see it as a                            government       policies   affecting    poor
       chance to bribe people into becoming his                            people.
       followers, yet it was a sign of God’s love                          We believe that to reflect God’s concerns
       for hungry people. We seek to do the                                for poor people and for justice, we must
       same.                                                               speak out against poverty’s root causes,
       Our respect for people’s dignity and their                          such as unjust laws and economic
       right to choose their beliefs.                                      systems.
       The International Red Cross Code of                                 We aim for positive relationships with all
       Conduct which says aid will not be used                             political parties but are not party political.
       to further a particular political or religious                      Tearfund       remains     committed        to
       standpoint. Tearfund has signed up to                               development       work.    Advocacy       and
       this code.                                                          campaigning are just one part of this.
       Our commitment to integral mission
       means that we work through partners                         Is Tearfund spending too much money on
       who offer people opportunities to explore                   administration and fundraising?
       the Christian faith but do not make help                           All Tearfund’s accounts are externally
       dependent on taking these opportunities.                           audited and checked against other
What is the point of doing development work                               Tearfund spends only one per cent on
when the problem is human sin?                                            management and administration, and
      Sins such as greed, corruption and                                  eight per cent on fundraising.
      injustice lie behind much of the poverty                            These      percentages   are   very  low
      and inequality in the world.                                        compared to most other charities and aid
      Tearfund is committed to challenging                                agencies.
      people to explore how their actions could
      contribute less to unjust or corrupt                         How can we be sure that our money will reach
      structures elsewhere in the world.                           those who need it?
      We are committed to addressing sin in                               Tearfund’s external auditors hold us
      poorer communities through our holistic                             accountable for how we use all donations.
      approach, addressing people’s need for                              All Tearfund partners are required to
      repentance and forgiveness.                                         write reports showing how the money
                                                                          they have received is benefiting poor
Why should we support Tearfund when we                                    people. Tearfund staff also visit their
already support other Christian aid agencies?                             projects.
       Tearfund is distinctive in two ways: we                            All our partner organisations agree to be
       are committed to integral mission (caring                          audited regularly.
       for a person’s physical, social, mental,
                                                                   If Tearfund is doing such a great job, why don’t
       emotional and spiritual needs), and we
                                                                   we hear more about it in the media?
       work only through those who share our
                                                                           Tearfund’s profile in the media has
       evangelical Christian beliefs and values.
                                                                           increased significantly in recent years; we
       Tearfund seeks to complement, not
                                                                           have now been featured in all the main
       compete with, other aid agencies. In
                                                                           broadsheets and on the main TV
       disaster relief situations, for example, we
       pool our resources and expertise with
                                                                           Most of Tearfund’s income is from
                                                                           churches and individual Christians, and
       Tearfund’s desire is to see churches
                                                                           we do not actively seek support from the
       across the UK and Ireland serving the
                                                                           general public. We therefore invest less
       poor. We encourage this irrespective of
                                                                           of our supporters’ money on maintaining
       which charities a congregation may
                                                                           a high secular media profile than many
       choose to support.
                                                                           other charities.

                         ` We are Christians passionate about the local church bringing justice and
                                     transforming lives – overcoming global poverty.
                         www.tearfund.org 100 Church Road, Teddington, Middlesex TW11 8QE
                            0845 355 8355 (ROI: 00 44 845 355 8355) enquiry@tearfund.org
                                                Registered Charity No. 265464

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