Monday, July 25, 2016

How to make wise choices in your giving to charity

A due diligence check list from the book:

Richard’s comments are in RED.
This book specifically addresses how to be a good steward and using God’s money wisely in a non profit Christian ministry. However, these ideas can be applied to a secular investment also. Some of the points do NOT necessarily apply to a business investment.

These principles apply to making substantial investments in an organization, whether it is in the 100’s, thousand’s or millions of dollars!

Again, the comments in RED are solely Richard Dassow’s and NOT Alan Gotthardts.

When you’re considering whether to fund a specific organization, there are many issues to consider. Here’s how to get started!

Review marketing/collateral information such as the organization’s website, brochures, annual reports, and presentations.

If possible, conducted a site visit or vision trip to examine the operation firsthand.

For large gifts, meet with leadership to better understand who they are and where the organization is headed.
 Have they approached you for an investment or did you search them out? What are your goals and motivations in making an investment in this organization?

Either through a face-to-face meeting, telephone call, or collaterral information, try to get a sense for the following:
1.       What is the mission of the organization?
          How clear is the mission statement? Has there been mission drift?

Have you checked out their website?
Is their Vision, Mission and Strategy clearly stated on their website?
Is it easy to find? 
Do they have a Twitter and Facebook page?
Do they have a BLOG?
Check frequently to see what they are doing!
What specifically are the major problems/issues it is trying to address?
2.       What makes this organization unique?
Using principles of Good to Great, have they established a clear need? Is the organization Passionate about what they are doing? Their mission. Is the Ex. Director passionate?  What are their resources? How is Need, Passion and Resources combined for exponential growth? Do they have the right people on the “bus”, the wrong people off the “bus” and the right people in the right seats?
3.       What is the scope of the organization’s activities (local, regional, global, country-specific)?

4.       Are there well-developed, high-level goals that have been established to mark progress and give guidance to staff and donors?
          How do they measure performance?
B.      PEOPLE

1.       How well do I know the leadership?
Are they visionary? Capable of leading? Passionate about the mission? Do they value relationships? Is the Ex. Director passionate?  What are their resources? How is Need, Passion and Resources combined for exponential growth? Do they have the right people on the “bus”, the wrong people off the “bus” and the right people in the right seats? 
Is there a list of the staff and Board of Directors on their website?

2.       What qualifications do those in leadership have?  
          A bio of staff & Board members on website?
3.       Does the board of directors represent a cross section of skills and qualifications needed to successfully guide an organization of this type?  Is there a job description for the board members? 
Is the board limited to policy making or do they do a lot of the work? If so, is this good or bad?
Are the board members investing financially in the ministry in a significant way?  Do we know what percentage of the total funds come from board members? How important do we think that is?

4.       Do the staff members understand the organization’s missions and exhibit a genuine concern for their area of ministry? Do they seem content and motivated?  How do I know this? Have I talked to them? Taken some of them to lunch? Is this important? Why?
1.       How receptive is the organization to feedback and questions?
Do leaders appear transparent about problems, successes, and failures? 
Are staff interested in even talking to us? How important is that to us? Obviously with a small donation it may not be important.… but if we have a significant financial investment to make it is or should be! Can we make a designated or restricted gift…and work with them in the planning?
How about accountability? Can we structure the funds to be released as progress is being made? Are they open to this? How involved to we wish to become?
2.       How are donors treated? Is there a demonstrated accountability for the faithful use of funds? How are volunteers recruited, trained, and utilized?

3.       Does the ministry seek to create leveraged results for the kingdom (i.e., multiplication)?
4.       Do there seem to be any “integrity fault lines” running through the different aspects of the ministry? It’s fund-raising? Programs? Communications?

          1.       Is there a written strategic plan for the ministry?
                   A 5 and 10 year plan?  On their website?

          2.       As it carries out its mission, how is the organization
perceived within the community?

3.       What are some of the new initiatives or activities the organization is undertaking? 5, 10, 15 year plan.

4.       Where does the financial support come from? A small group of major donors or a broad audience?
How willing are they in sharing this?
          5.       Are there audited financial statements?

6.       Does the organization appear to be staffed appropriately to execute the mission?  Good to Great concepts?


1.       How does the organization measure its progress toward accomplishing the mission?
Are there specific targets and objectives for the leadership as well as staff within the organization?

2.       Does the organization communicate regularly and effectively with the donors? What is the frequency?   Newsletter available online?
          3.       Is the organization accomplishing its mission?
                   If we are investing in a specific project.

1.       Does this particular project  address one of the core objectives of the ministry? In other words, is it part of a focused, concentrated effort toward accomplishing the organization’s purpose, or does it go outside of core competencies and mission?

2.       Is this project or activity already being conducted successfully by another organization, and if so, are there reasons to duplicate?

          3.       How much of the funding is already committed?

1.       Is this a onetime investment for a project that will become a self-sustaining activity?

2.       Other than in the area of funding, where are the faith hurdles? In other words, where must God supernaturally create the results for the project to be successful?

3.       Do the financial projections seem reasonable? Are they too optimistic? Do they leave anything out? Is there a plan for contingencies?

4        Are there specific, measurable objectives to be accomplished?

          5.       How will progress be reported?
1.       Have I (we) spent sufficient time seeking God’s will through prayer Bible study, and wise counsel? Do I (we) have any wrong motives or conflicts of interest that should prevent this investment?

2.       Assuming all indications are positive, are there any nagging questions or concerns that should be resolved?

3.       Whether or not this appears to be a great opportunity, do I (we) feel specifically led to be involved at this time?
          Have I (we) asked the 4 questions from Ben Carson’s book: TAKE THE RISK; Learning to Identify, Choose, and Live with Acceptable Risk.

Am I interested in volunteering with this organization?
          Have I contacted them to see if they would be interested in me helping them in some way?

Do I know my S.H.A.P.E?  Spiritual Gifts, heart or Passion, Abilities, Personality and Experiences? Have I taken the S.H.A.P.E. Assessment?

 How passionate am I in using my S.H.A.P.E with this organization?
What am I going to do?

Additional Resources:

 Bloom Where You are Planted!

Generous Giving

The Eternity Portfolio

Alan's Twitter page 

Paul Polak addressing what works and what doesn't!

Paul Polak:  Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail.

Quote from his book;  P 186  One major flaw in the way current donors deliver the funds they invest in poverty-eradicaton initiatives."

"What Donors Can Do to End Poverty"
"Development donors don't insist that every investment produces measurable positive impacts and that these impacts can be scaled up to reach millions of people."

Take the Risk: Learning to Identify, Choose and Live with Acceptable Risk.

Money, Possessions, and Eternity, Randy Alcorn. 

Go to my latest BLOG POST

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Bloom Where You Are Planted!

 Bloom where you are planted! We have all heard this phrase so many times that maybe we don't understand what it really means. Google the will see what I mean. Some very good secular or worldly advice.

Be "rooted", "grounded" and "grow" and so rise to the top of your "field"...and "bloom" where you are "planted" ...using the "Abilities", "gifts" and "Strengths" God has endowed you with.

By doing the above...we potentially can rise to the top of our "field". 
But WHY should we Bloom Where We Are Planted?

As a believer in Jesus Christ and desiring to be a good steward and a faithful "follower" of Jesus on our way to glory...we can be a light for others to see the Truth. 

 ●"The Lord created each of us individually with different Spiritual Gifts, Passions, Abilities, strengths and a unique personality with different experiences.  Helping each other put the pieces of the seeming puzzle together so we each can be most effective in our families, church, community and the world and finish our lives well and leave a legacy that gives glory to the LORD so when we stand before Him one day, we will hear, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

Isn't that what we would like to hear one day?

"God has created each of us with a unique contribution to make in our world and our times. No other person has our same abilities, motivations, network of friends and relationships, perspectives, ideas, or experiences. When we, like misplaced puzzle pieces, fail to show up, the overall picture is diminished."   Richard Stearns: President of World Vision U.S.
Quote from his book: The Hole in our Gospel 


We are Jesus's hands and feet in the world. 


"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10

A few pictures of field grown pansies...from our farm many years ago.


Bloom Where You are Planted 


The individual beautiful pansy plants grew well in the field where they were planted for the allotted time they were there. They were seeded in the field for a purpose...The  next year they were individually dug up, put in containers and sold to people who then transplanted them to their gardens to be viewed.

 Isn't this what life is all about? 

God, the master gardener created each of us unique...plants us here for a short time...for a specific purpose...and cares for us. "Lord, open our eyes and heart".  "Come Holy Spirit, Come, you are welcome here" 

More later: Come back soon!

The picture above was taken in early to late October.
 Our family grew 2 plus acres of pansies.
 Seeded in the field beginning  of July.

Pansies are bi annuals.
Around Thanksgiving time when the ground was frozen, they were covered with marsh hay.
But before this...all the flowers were hand picked off and discarded. A lot of work!

In spring as soon as the snow melted and it was dry enough..late March.., we uncovered them.
They started to bloom again in early May and we dug each plant and put 12 in a wooden flat or 6 plants in a 2 quart basket and 5 in a wooden crate and sold to Kohls and Sentry food stores. This was in the mid 60s to late 70's. They purchased all we had.

We also sold to Winkies in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, a local 5 and 10 cent store. They had several stores at the time. They are still in business with the store in Whitefish Bay.  

 These pictures were taken in early spring...Mid May.


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Thursday, June 2, 2016

What Does God Expect Of Us?

"God has created each of us with a unique contribution to make in our world and our times. No other person has our same abilities, motivations, network of friends and relationships, perspectives, ideas, or experiences. When we, like misplaced puzzle pieces, fail to show up, the overall picture is diminished."   Richard Stearns: President of World Vision U.S.
Quote from his book: The Hole in our Gospel 

Chapter 24: How Many Loaves Do You Have?
"If you think you are too small to make a difference, try spending the night in a closed room with a mosquito." - African Saying

Study Guide

Reviews from "Good Reads"

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

A few pictures from my earlier days on the farm.

Who says you can't grow peaches in Wisconsin!
Never crossed my mind to grow them commercially.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Why we are here: The question of Why?

A good plan for beginning each day:  Pray, Plan and Prioritize. Then Delegate...if you have someone to delegate to!

Finished a good book recently: WHO  by Geoff Smart and Randy Street.

"The most important decisions that business people make are not "what" decisions but "Who" decisions." -Jim Collins, Author of Good To Great.

That also goes for non profit organizations!
 Good book: Good to Great in the Social Sector. by Jim Collins


It's relatively easy to figure out "What" to do and also "How" to do something.

Maybe a more important decision is "WHY" we do what we do.
Then the rest becomes easy.

A good book for figuring that out is " Start With Why by Simon Sinek.

If you don't know WHY, You can't know HOW.

"All great leaders have clarity of WHY; an undying belief in a purpose or cause bigger than themselves. It's not Bill Gates's passion for computers that inspires us, it's his undying optimism that even the most complicated problems can be solved. He believes we can find ways to remove obstacles to ensure that everyone can live and work to their greatest potential. It is his optimism to which we are drawn." P. 134

“If the leader of the organization can’t clearly articulate WHY the organization exists in terms beyond its products or services, then how does he expect the employees to know WHY to come to work?”
Simon Sinek, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action

For the church pastor or leader who feels led to plant a new church, the congregation needs to understand the Biblical basis of missions. WHY we are here. Why we exist. For what purpose. 
A good video that explains this. 


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Exponential 2016 Church Planting: Tweets & Retweets

  Conference Overview

Join thousands of church planting leaders for four days of inspiration, encouragement and equipping at Exponential East church planting conference in Orlando. The conference will feature 175+ speakers, 125+ workshops, 9+ tracks, 5,000 church planting leaders and sunny Orlando, Florida. Don’t miss the largest gathering of church planting leaders in the world.

I'm not at the conference. Watching some of the sessions online and monitoring #exponential on Twitter. See Tweets below.


 My Tweets and Retweets from Exponential 2016

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

All About Missions...and the Christian response!

Church planting movements: 100 churches...4 generations deep...within 3-4 years.
A simple definition of a CPM or Church Planting Movement. 
Watch the video on Y Tube....but come back!