Why Leadings?

Not to lead, but to be led            -- by the Holy Spirit.

See Leader, Servant, or Slave? in the section below, "Walking the Walk".

Jack in Denali National Park, 2012.

God's Wrath

Why was Sodom destroyed? Ezekiel tells us in chapter 16, verse 49: "This was the sin of your sister, Sodom: Pride, full-ness of bread, and abundance of idleness. Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."

That's also why Jerusalem was destroyed.

And now, with greed as our national virtue, what hope is there for the United States of America? We are afflicted by imperialistic pride, obesity, and entertainment addiction, and we are all called to do our part to "strengthen the hand of the poor and needy".

"Strengthen the hand" is the King James wording. Modern translations say "help the poor and needy." And there's a world of difference between the two. Helping the poor = as little as throwing some cash in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas time. That's charity. It's doing for, not doing with.

My Grandmother was right about charity. On a below-zero day, she went out on the back porch with a skillet to throw hot grease on the back-yard snow. She shivered as she re-entered the kitchen and said, "Wooooh, colder than charity."

Strengthening the hand is much different. We get personally involved with another person who needs help, and we work with her or him to get the needed help. That's risky. You're vulnerable. It takes prayer, time and patience. You need knowledge and wisdom from the LORD. There are great rewards, however. You get a brother or sister.

Strengthening the hand is great work for our churches -- which we ignore far more often than we perform. Why? Because we're afflicted with the Ameri-can curse of individualism. Christians are to be a tribe -- a tribe that takes care of each other. In Galatians 6:16, Paul calls us "the Israel of God" -- the new 13th tribe.

Jesus said, "The poor you shall always have with you." He didn't mean that as a curse -- the notion that the poor are an inevi-table nuisance and expense, to be hidden in the slums. Rather, He was saying, "You shall always be among the poor."

When you strengthen hands, you fulfill Deuteronomy 15:4-5: "However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God . . ." It's a glorious responsibility and promise.

And how do prosperous Americans fulfill that promise? Generally, by making sure they have no contact with people who are poor -- and we have been that way from our beginnings in the 17th century. Early villages in Massachusetts solved the problem by out-lawing poor people. Today, we deal with the same problem by confining the poor in urban reservations, our slums.

As the Supreme Court Bailiff says at the beginning of each session, "God save the United States of America..." 



Seven years ago with my older daughter, I attended a fundraising meeting at a home in San Jose, CA. The speaker was Gary Moorehouse, a man I had met in Massachusetts a decade earlier. He had a terrific story to tell – he was doing community organizing and community development in Afghanistan. 

In going to San Jose, we anticipated a great event. Two rooms of the house were crammed with people, and Gary gave us a slide show with an intriguing narrative. Problem: The slide show and the narrative went on and on and on and on and on and on. People began leaving. By the time Gary finished, only a handful of us were still there.

Gary may have been doing excellent organizing in Afghanistan, but he needed help on organizing Americans. So, I wrote him the following letter:

[Gary's organization is The Marigold Fund. Marigold now has an excellent web site which you can reach at http://www.marigoldfund.org/ The site has an abundance of glorious photos. If you want to see the real Afghanistan, here it is. Also, in the years since I wrote Gary this letter, he has implemented many recommendations in the letter below.]


Gary –

You have a great story to tell, and there are several ways to improve your presentation. As director for Sign of the Cross Housing in Cincinnati, I was in non-profit work for 21 years (i.e. the begging game) and raised over $3 million for our firm. There are sound guidelines to follow:

1.  Never ask for money.

Not you.  Delegate the job.  It keeps both you and your audience from being embarrassed.  Last night in San Jose, your host could have made the pitch; my daughter could have made the pitch.  So, the real rule is – always ask for money – but have a friend make the request.

I understand you need a quarter of a million per year.  Organize every gathering to get a large chunk of the funds:

Coach your spokesperson on how to ask, tactfully and clearly.  Have envelopes and pledge cards available so every member of the audience can write a check and/or pledge right there at the meeting.  Have stacks of envelopes available so people can take a dozen of them to meet their pledge in the year ahead.  Even better, encourage them to make an automatic monthly donation through their debit card or checking account.

2.  Don’t do fund raising.  Do friend raising.

You may or may not have heard this wisdom before, but it’s clear you already feel it in your heart.

3.  Boil down your presentation.  Write a stump speech.  Length:  20 minutes.

Did they tell you in divinity school that most Americans have an attention span of only five minutes?

You can extend that span because (1) you have an intrinsically fascinating subject, and (2) you have excellent photos. 

If you give your speech in 20 minutes – including the host’s request for funds -- then your audience may pepper you with questions which can keep you going one or two hours more.  But, they’ll feel good about the evening.  If they’re rushed, they can be in and out in 20 minutes.  If they stay, it's their questions that are being answered.

Build your speech through your photos.  In 19 minutes – at 10 seconds per photo – you get to use your 115 best shots.

4.  Design your speech to meet the audience’s needs.

Not your needs. 

Think through what the audience wants.

In the invitation, let them know how long the presentation will be.  Americans are schedule addicts.  They feel very comfortable if you tell them when to arrive and when they can leave.  Then, stick to the schedule.  In raising funds, that’s the single most important thing you can do.

The audience already approves what you’re doing.  They may not know details, but they know you, or they know about you, or they know about Marigold, or they have some connection with Afghanistan, etc.  They expect to be asked for money, and they will give unless you give them a reason not to give.  They’re expecting a money pitch.  In fact, they want it to happen, because it’s the signal for the end of the session.

What does the audience want from you?  Inspiration, excitement, enthusiasm.  They expect you to be an entertaining cheerleader with special information about Afghanistan, about Marigold, about what the LORD is doing through you.  Especially, they want to hear how lives are being changed.  They want to hear how your community is becoming a model for Afghanistan.  E.g. they would be delighted to hear that your community now has orders from four other communities for training on how to rebuild their bridges.

Most members of the audience have no interest in your making them deeply informed about Afghanistan or Marigold or your village. Example: They don’t want details on your relationships with a family of orphans. They do want to know that you have a relationship with them, and then tell them about results. Americans want and expect results. Make that your focus.

5.  Your stump speech is easy to organize.   Here is a plausible outline:

Opening: “Marigold is working.”

Example:    Rebuilding the bridge.

I. “Marigold is working.”

Example: The paralyzed girl.

II. “Marigold is working.”

Example: Digging the wells.

III. “Marigold is working.”

Example: Building the wing at the hospital for women and children.

IV. “Marigold is working.”

Example: Winterizing the school.

Conclusion: “The LORD is working through Marigold.”

(I’m not bright enough to make up a speech structured like that.  I stole the structure from a super pro -- Eleanor Roosevelt, who gave a talk in Hanover, NH, in 1954.  I wrote the article for the college newspaper.  Her speech was titled, “The UN Is Working" – and it was her opening sentence.  It was also each of her main points, followed each time by a brief example.  And it was her conclusion.  You can do the same.)

Then, your pitchman gives a one-minute statement, like this:

“Marigold is an exciting opportunity for each of us to do our part in helping change the world.  You can help in at least three ways.

“Keep Gary and Marigold in your daily prayers.

“Prayerfully consider flying to Afghanistan and dedicating a week or a month of your life to working as part of the Marigold mission.  (Only a few will consider doing this.  Others will be shocked by the idea, so they will be relieved when the pitchman says:)

“Join us in helping to fund Marigold.  You have envelopes before you that are also pledge cards.  You can pledge tonight for the year ahead.  You can write a check tonight and put it in the envelope.  Or, you can do both. Even better, fill out the form by which you can make a monthly deduction through your debit card or directly from your bank account.”

“$1,000 will build a schoolroom.  $100 will pay a teacher’s salary for a month.  $25 will feed eight children for a week at school.

"If you want to especially bless Marigold, you can specify a monthly amount -- $25, $50 or $100 – to be paid by your bank or credit card.  Join us in making all this happen.  Thank you.” 

(Note:  I made up the examples above.  Use real figures, real blessings.)

6.  Write your stump speech.  Polish it.  Memorize it.

7.  Get a pro to coach you.

Once you have your stump speech together, hire a pro.  Deliver it to him or her, so the pro can critique your speech and show you how to improve it even more.  (Use a pro, not a friend.  If you use a friend, you're putting him or her in a conflict-of-interest situation.)

8.  Stick to the stump speech.

Resist the urge to ad lib.  Current developments are fascinating to you.  Your own thought processes are fascinating.  Resist the urge to share them.  Save them.  They may be great examples as responses to questions.

9.  Get a prayer team to back you up. 

They’re even more important than a Board or an Advisory Council.

10.  When giving your presentation, get in your sensate (action) mode.

In the Myers-Briggs lingo, I hunch that you’re intuitive, with secondary characteristics in sensate and thinking.  Use your sensate – action – mode when you're in front of an audience.  Giving a good speech – and even answering questions – is acting, not relaxing.

Example:  Last night, Larry asked, “Who’s on your Board?”

In response, you talked about the people on your Board.  But, that’s not what he wanted to hear.  This response would have blessed him:

“Thanks for asking.  We now have six members on the Board.  Skills include a CPA, a pastor, a social worker, a Middle East scholar, an expert in teaching reading, and a financial manager.  We’re in the process of adding a general contractor, a venture capital manager, and an attorney.”

With answers, shorter is better.  If the person wants more info, he or she will ask.

11.  When going after funding, there are implied contracts --

If you treasure their time, they’ll share their treasure.

When they feel comfortable about you and confident in you, you get the money.

(That's generally true, whether the funding source is a parent, a bank, a foundation, or the United States Government.)

They’re expecting you to be ultra responsible in how you invest their funds.

You’ll give them regular reports on what’s being accomplished with their funds.  They especially like pictures.  (See item 14 below.)

They want to feel they are participants in what the LORD is doing through you.

They expect results.

12.  Americans will give generously if they don’t have to do anything.

Get your web site and your financial people structured so people can make annual pledges of a fixed amount deducted every month automatically from their checking accounts or their debit cards.  This is how NGO funding works today in America.

13.  When possible, encourage people to get matching funds from the firms where they work.

14.  Your donors want to know what's happening.  (Good communication = friend raising.) 

In the past century, we communicated through newsletters.  Today, newsletters are thrown in the trash along with other bulk mailings.

Use the electronic media.  Have a pro get you set up with at least –

     A sophisticated web site,

     A blog page, where you can regularly post photos and tell of results,

     Facebook, where you can store photo essays.

     An e-mail address, from which you can send urgent messages.  (Use this sparingly.)

15.  You will soon need a paid, full-time person or crew in the U.S. to handle paperwork.

Your electronic mailing list.

Processing pledges, debit card payments, and monthly donation receipts.


Fund management.

Filing your annual 990 and withholding forms with the IRS, as well as State and City returns.

Writing and making timely submissions of funding proposals to foundations.

Taking advantage of international funding opportunities.

I.e. even if the US is cutting off aid, what are possibilities with the UN, India, Japan, China, Brazil, European countries, Commonwealth countries?

Getting pledges renewed annually.

Working with donors, churches, foundations.

Preparing and coaching volunteers before they make the trip to Afghanistan.

Coordinating with you and with volunteers on visits to the Marigold Mission.

Getting legal and CPA counsel on thorny issues.

Handling publicity.

And lots more.

(Don’t kid yourself that you can get all this work done well by volunteers.  You need a paid, thoroughly professional Stateside staff to back you up.)

Non-profit corporations are more complicated and more difficult to run than retail corporations. Why? Retailers have to go after customers, but the customers bring their money. But non-profits have to go after both the money and the participants.

16.  There are many places to get help on the complexities of running a non-profit corporation. E.g. http://www.1800net.com/nprc/index.html.  Check Google under “non-profits” “non-profit accounting” etc.

17.  Show that you are a financially reliable organization. The Billy Graham Association has the following wording on all its donation forms:

"All gifts are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law.  Our Board-approved policy is that all gifts designated for a specific project be applied to the project, with up to 10 percent used for administrative and fund-raising expenses.  Occasionally we receive more contributions for a given project than can be wisely applied to that project.  When that happens, we use these funds to meet a similar pressing need.  We do not provide goods or services in consideration for contributions.  BGEA is a charter member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA)."

Implication:  Join ECFA.  Include similar wording in your documents.

18. Management expenses are a legitimate use of funds donated to Marigold.

Your donors will feel better, not worse, about the organization if you pay for first-rate legal and accounting services, along with an annual CPA audit, review, or compilaton.  And these savvy counseling services more than pay for themselves.  They are a necessity, not an extravagance.  (I write that sentence, and most of this letter, from bitter, bitter experience.)

In His grip,



Purpose of this blog is to compile a book for my grandchildren to read in 25 years.

Copyright © 2012 by Jack Towe


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