Derick Dillard still asking for online donations, Twitter users not so supportive

Derick and Jill Dillard asking for donations

Derick Dillard isn’t giving up the fight to solicit online donations from fans! The Counting On star’s fundraising campaign to pay for his enrollment in a one-year ministerial residency program was shut down last week by the host website, but Derick assured fans today that he is continuing to work on creating a way for people to give him money via the internet.

Derick’s update came via Twitter after one of his followers pointed out that the Pure Charity link he previously shared was no longer working. “We are trying to get this fixed so that donations can be made online as well,” Derick assured her. “Thank you for your patience and for supporting our ministry!”

Just prior, Derick shared a Bible verse about how giving to God is commendable:

UPDATE – Derick relaunched his fundraising campaign on Pure Charity, but it was shut down again within hours. Judging from the screen caps of the site while it was still up, Derick didn’t make any noticeable changes from his first listing. Here are the tweets from him and Jill with the new (dead) links:

Derick’s fundraising update tweet was met with an avalanche of responses that were anything but supportive. I screen capped the reactions at the time of this post. Please note that I did ZERO editing. Also note that I stopped at some point, so there may have been supportive reactions further down:

Derick Dillard fundraiser Twitter reactions

As we previously reported, Derick’s fundraising campaign was removed by Pure Charity due to a violation of their terms of use. After reading through the website’s terms of use, I speculated that the issue may have been with the fact that Derick was raising money for himself and not an officially recognized charity, which Pure Charity does not allow.

The whole thing is a bit confusing because the $6,500 that Derick is trying to raise will be going to the Cross Church School of Ministry, which might be a legitimate charity organization. (I’m not sure how all that works.) But, the money is to pay for Derick to attend their one-year ministerial residency program, so the money is actually for Derick. Essentially, he is asking for donations to pay for tuition towards his education, if that makes more sense.

Being the diligent (Dillardgent?) blogger that I am, I looked a little more into the residency in hopes of better understanding exactly what it is that Derick wants fans to pay for. The Cross Church School of Ministry compares its program to that of a medical student doing a residency or student teaching for someone working towards a degree in education. The program blurs the lines a little bit between formal education and practical work experience as a way to better prepare students for a ministerial career in the real world.

“Our colleges and seminaries do a wonderful job with formal education,” the CCSM website states. “Our goal is not to compete with these schools, but to complement them. Students may enter the Cross Church School of Ministry anywhere along their academic journey from post-high school all the way through post-seminary and anywhere in between. We are convinced that your one-year residency with us will be the difference maker in the future of your ministry career.”

The CCSM wants to emphasize that their residency program is more than just an internship:

Internships are typically the “grunt-work” of ministry, things like picking up pizzas, hauling chairs, making copies, etc. While you are never “too good” to ever do any of these things, the Cross Church School of Ministry is designed to offer you a true-to-life ministry experience for one-year that goes far above and beyond any internship. You will effectively be functioning as another staff person of Cross Church under the mentorship of a seasoned Cross Church minister. You will attend upper level staff meetings, deal with budget issues, develop and do ministry in context, etc. And if you mess-up and fall, you will have a safety net—something you would not have if you were out on your own. Our goal is to get you into full-time vocational ministry, but not until you are ready. And getting ready means one year with us!

What does the $6,500 that Derick is asking for go towards? Actually, the full cost of the program is $12,000, but that figure is adjusted down if you opt out of housing or other expenses. I’m not sure how the $6,500 is arrived at, but there are other students with online fundraising campaigns asking for the same amount, so I assume it is a set package deal. Here is how the CCSM breaks down the costs:

The cost of the program includes: one international mission trip, two North American mission trips, program fees, housing and utilities, tuition, ministry mentoring, and customized ministry tracking. It does not include food, insurance, transportation, and miscellaneous personal needs.

So why doesn’t Derick just apply for student loans or federal aid? “We are a private and independent school and as such do not qualify to receive and process this kind of aid for our students,” the CCSM site explains.

Without being able to qualify for traditional post secondary education funding options, it would make sense that CCSM students would be motivated to create online crowd-sourced fundraising campaigns. Is that something the CCSM supports? Not only do they approve, they “highly encourage” it:

Yes! In fact, we highly encourage you to raise private funds from those who know you are called by God into the ministry and believe in and support that calling. This could be family, friends, your home church, etc. We encourage our students to create an exhaustive list of such contacts and send them a support letter along with a Cross Church School of Ministry brochure (we will provide as many of these as you need). Consider this as a goal: If you found just 10 people who believe in you and your calling, who would each commit to give $100 per month for one year…, that equals $12,000. We believe this is very achievable. It is common for people to raise support in this manner for mission trips that cost $2,000–$4,000 or more. And remember, as part of your time with the Cross Church School of Ministry, you will be going on THREE mission trips.

Interestingly, a quick Google search turns up numerous Pure Charity campaigns for students enrolled at CCSM. Here’s an excerpt from one of those campaigns:

The lessons I’ve learned, the ways I’ve grown, and the relationships I’ve built are priceless. However, the program does come at a cost. As of the beginning of July, despite hundreds of letters sent and much exposure of this page on Facebook, I still owe $5,500 to the School of Ministry. I heartily welcome your prayers for a miracle in the necessary funds to come in, but the reality is that prayers alone won’t pay for the School of Ministry. There’s no way around it: I need money, and I need it by August 1st. Will you please consider partnering with me financially? At the least, will you please share this page so that others might see it?

After I graduate from the Cross Church School of Ministry, I will be pursuing my Master of Divinity degree at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I have faith that I will leave Arkansas and arrive in Kentucky without the burden of $5,000 on my shoulders. God has called me to ministry and to missions. Will you join in what God is doing?

So is it wrong for Derick to ask his fans for money so that he can attend what essentially amounts to one year of college? Clearly, the default response is a resounding “YES!” mainly because Derick is on a high-profile reality show and I assume receives ample compensation for his (and his family’s) appearance. People DO NOT like their reality stars appearing greedy when they are already getting so much “for free!”

Personally, I don’t have any problem at all with Derick asking for money. Heck, I would have no problem with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg starting a fundraising effort to buy a new billion dollar mansion. I wouldn’t give him any money, but if others wanted to, then that’s their choice. (As long as there was no deception involved.) Of course, there are issues of appearing unseemly or whatever, but I really just don’t care. It literally takes zero effort for me not to give someone money. (If Derick was knocking at my door in the middle of the day asking for money, that would be another story!)

As far as the extra disdain for reality stars goes, I’ve gone on record many times before stating that it is pure silliness to consider being on a reality show as “not a real job” or whatever. Is being on Couting On a real job? Yes. Should they get paid a lot of money? If they are generating a lot of revenue for TLC, then ABSOLUTELY! (I’ve also gone on record many times admitting that this is a debate I will never, ever win.)

What I think is important with this most recent controversy involving Derick Dillard is that his fundraising efforts should not be looked at differently because a church is involved. To me, it’s no different than Mama June starting a fundraising campaign to get Honey Boo Boo into a private school, or Jenelle Evans starting a campaign to pay for her nursing school.

One other thing I took away from doing this post is that the Cross Church School of Ministry is making A LOT of money! From their students! That doesn’t even include the revenue from the church and its patrons! Granted, they aren’t making anywhere near as much as private universities, but I was still a bit surprised. I didn’t realize some 18-year-old kid could do a year-long residency program involving multiple mission trips and come out on the other side owing as much as $12,000. But hey, at least you will have the Cross Church as a “safety net.”

On a side note, I was wondering about Jill and why she isn’t doing the residency as well. I thought maybe the Cross Church didn’t accept female students, but that is not the case:

God is calling a generation of women into full-time vocational ministry in many areas of the church – preschool ministry, children’s ministry, girls and student ministry, worship ministry, women’s ministry, and more! If you are a woman called by God, we encourage you to strongly consider the unique one-year residency that is offered only by the Cross Church School of Ministry.

Perhaps we will be seeing a Jill Dillard fundraising page soon?

Looking through the numerous photos on the CCSM social media pages, they do seem to attract a number of women, but those same photos appear to indicate they might have another kind of diversity issue. As an example, here is a photo posted by Derick on Instagram earlier today taken “this weekend at our C3 small-group leaders retreat.” Derick hashtags the photo with #teamblack, but it is anything but:

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