Some Truth About Ministry Fundraising and Finances Needed

You'd be hard pressed to find just one monthly letter appeal from HWA from the hundreds he personally wrote without hearing a need for more money, some great impending financial crisis for the work, or at least an emphatic request for bigger donations, lest one be found guilty of "robbing" from God's Work.

It's not hard to be critical of the effectiveness of HWA's guilt trip fundraising techniques, but he managed to get over over a billion dollars in cash donated over his lifetime. Indeed, he raked in a lot of cash without having to account for how he spent it, to the very people who provided it.

In more recent, leaner times, the WCG has become a member of the Christian "Stewardship" Association (CSA), turning to it for financial advice on how to "milk" the donor cows for the best yield. Dan Rogers (with little Joe, no doubt) and scores of WCG ministers have attended CSA conferences.

Articles on the CSA website include such stewardship advice as:

10 Biblical and Practical Reasons to Teach People to Give 10%; 10 Practical Ways to Help Increase a Congregation's giving 10-25% (or more); 7 Secrets to Teach About Biblical Giving (I hope keeping the financial statements and unincorporated association bylaws a secret isn't one of the 7 “Secrets”); 90 day Giving Challenge; 100 Stewardship Verses and Ideas; How to Encourage Generous Giving Through People's Wills and Estates.

Hmmm... Could David Pack or Gerald Flurry use the practical wealth extraction techniques found in any of those CSA golden "nuggets"?

CSA is having it's upcoming annual meeting at the Hyatt Regency/Albuquerque Convention Center in Albuquerque, NM Jan 31- Feb 2, 2998. Cost to attend the three day conference, with preregistration by members is $740.00.

Workshops and seminars hosted by CSA at the Albuquerque conference include:

How Data Mining Can Increase Net Income for Ministry; Ten Mistakes You Shouldn't Make with Donors; Developing a Personal Solicitation Strategy; Slay the Gospel Bird: Fundraising Banquet or Free Chicken Dinner; How to Acquire Even More Donors; How to Get Out of Debt by Applying God's Principles; Getting More Bank For Your Buck From The “Hired Gun”; and How to Add Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars to Annual Budget Without Finding New Donors.

You can find a copy of the CSA conference schedule at their website here.

These clever modern ministry fundraising techniques have been criticized by Phil Cooke, a ministry media consultant to ministries and churches (unrelated to CSA). He has this to say about modern ministry fundraising techniques:

"For churches and ministries across the country, fundraising has
become a vital tool that ís used to raise the necessary money to make ministry happen. It ís a noble effort, because people need to understand that without financial support, significant outreach is
nearly impossible. However, in many cases, the tail has started to wag the dog, and some ministries focus on raising money more than their actual mission.
The science of fundraising has become a massive business. It has spawned financial consultants, direct response companies, fulfillment businesses, telemarketing, and more. Helping ministries raise money has become an industry in itself.
The fact is, the "personal" ministry letter you receive each month was probably not written by the ministry leader at all, but by a direct mail strategist, and designed by a graphic designer for maximum response. Today, color scheme, spacing, layout, and structure are some of the most important features of monthly letters and and the most effective fundraisers can even compare responses based on different colors of the envelope. They mail the letters on just the right day each month so it arrives when people get their paycheck either from the mail or direct deposit. Statistics prove that if it is only a few days late, the response will drop considerably. I've seen people fired from ministries because they mailed the monthly letter 48-72 hours behind schedule, it ís considered that important.
In fact, I spoke to one Christian fundraiser who said that the single most important thing is getting a person to open the envelope - and he would be willing to do anything to make that happen.

Even lie about what ís inside.

It ís important to note that I'm not against fundraising with integrity. There are some marvelous ministries out there doing great work because of effective relationships with their supporters and partners. But I do think you need to know how the business works, because believe me, it's a business, and they're trying to work you.

Here are some suggestions to consider as you pick up the next fundraising letter from your mailbox:

1) They have timed the letter to arrive when you have the most money in the bank. Giving will be easier for you, but that shouldn't control your decision.
2) The cute little underlines, exclamation points, and arrows that look like the writer inserted with a pen after it was written - weren't marked by a person, but a computer. Each one was strategically planned for placement and effect.
3) The amount of the suggested gift on the reply was calculated by a computer based on your past giving history, and often with the goal to nudge you to give a little more.
4) Even the color of the paper was researched based on past responses to that particular shade...
5) You're more likely to give because they ministry sends you something in return. Sadly, we wouldn't even need fundraising if Christians gave as the Bible teaches. So am I suggesting that we stop fundraising? Absolutely not. As I said before, great ministries are impacting the world because good people give. Plus, there are many gifted fundraising experts who are ethical and operate with utmost integrity. Frankly, I wish people gave more to deserving churches and ministries.
But I am suggesting we become informed givers. Don't be a ministry zombie and give on impulse for any reason. Give because you have researched a ministry, believe in what it's doing in the world, have confirmed its integrity and track record, and then prayed about the gift.

Giving for any other reason, is usually a waste of money."

With all the above in mind, I humbly present the:

Church of God

Donor's Bill of Rights

When you give, be sure the church employs standards and policies that assure you of your ten rights as a Church of God donor. You have the right to:

1. Know exactly how the funds of the COG organization are being spent, where Christian stewardship is not just a web policy for the sake of appearances, but an actual practice.

2. Know the salary and total compensation packages of key ministry, evangelists, executives, and board members.

3. Know what the COG programs you support are accomplishing or not accomplishing. Check and see if any outside ministry you are considering gifting to has a passing or failing financial transparency grade at www.ministrywatch.org.

4. Know that the organization and its employees comply with all federal and state laws, including tax regulations for nonprofit, tax-exempt ministries, including regulations against inurement or personal benefit from tithes and donations.

5. Be able to specifically designate and permanently restrict your COG gifts to fund a specific charitable or religious cause within the organization's mission objectives, such as helping widows and orphans, the sick, or the assistance of the needy or hungry.

6. A timely and courteous response to your inquiries about finances and programs, not incomplete or misleading Orwellian doublespeak about quarterly income and budget percentages as substitutes for periodic, complete financial reports.

7. Give without being pressured by the organization, or computer donation tithe-checked for loyalty or "member in good standing" roadblocks to HQ accountability.

8. Obtain a full copy of the ministry's most recent audited financial statements and charitable disaster fund statements - not a sanitized version with meaningless categories lumped together. Third tithe collected by the ministry and spent for that specific charitable purpose should be placed in distinct, separate categories on the financial reports.

9. Know that there is a responsible, qualified, governing board of members providing oversight to the church mission, accepting responsibility for board actions; not a rubber-stamp, unincorporated church association's board of elders, controlled legally by one man and one man only.

10. Know that all appeals for funds are truthful and accurate, and that conflicts of interest are avoided. Audited financial statements are absolutely not a "clean bill of health" or CPA guarantee of fiduciary integrity. CPA-audited financial statements can also hide church assets, real estate, gold bullion in Swiss bank accounts, payouts, or loans; provide inadequate retirement funding for employees, continue to "cook" the books, or materially misrepresent your COG's financial condition.

You have a right to timely, accurate, and complete sets of financial statements from your COG, and to know exactly how your money is being spent by your ministry.

Try tacking the Church of God Donor's Bill of Rights up on your COG's bulletin board or website, and emailing your ministry requesting financial statements promised to all COG members in good standing. See what kind of charitable response you receive in return for exercising your Christian responsibility.


Grounds For Impeachment

Raising the Ruins refers to an unpublished, sworn to tell the whole truth deposition of Joseph Tkach Jr., which may help answer some pointed questions about the distressed sale price of WCG's Ambassador Auditorium:

"Yet another legacy that was neither heavy nor burdensome. After 2,500 concerts and recitals, it was the Tkaches who shut down the famous performing arts series in 1985, saying they could not afford to subsidize the program and that it had “nothing to do with the mission of the church” anyway (Deposition of Joseph Tkach, September 8, 1998). “News of Ambassador’s closure,” the Los Angeles Times reported, “rumbled through Pasadena’s business and political circles like an earthquake.” The community was terribly disappointed. In fact, one reason it took so long for the WCG to sell the Pasadena property is the resistance that city officials put up over proposals to turn the campus into a residential community. “Our mission in the building is over; we aren’t going to keep it," Bernie Schnippert, the church’s director of finance and planning, told the Los Angeles Times in 2002. If it is not bought by the city or bought by a benefactor, the church will tear it down.” Quite a legacy! They actually gave the city an ultimatum: Either buy Ambassador Auditorium for the appraised value of 22 million, or else we’ll demolish it! In the end, city officials held firm and prevented the auditorium from being sold to a developer. This forced the WCG to divvy up the property and sell off the parcels piece by piece. Harvest Rock Church bought the auditorium in 2004 for a little more than a third of the appraised value.

After the sale, like a good politician, Schnippert’s tune changed. The Ambassador Auditorium has always been an important part of the Worldwide Church of God’s ministry, Schnippert told the Worldwide News. “We are pleased that this religious and cultural jewel will continue to be used for the glory of God.” He said this just two years after threatening to demolish the structure.”

Ambassador Auditorium's dedication occurred April 7, 1974. In order to help pay for the expensively built auditorium, the church had requested special donations for an auditorium Building Fund. Yet after the auditorium was finished, it was announced a loan mortgage was made for 100% financing. Mysteriously, neither Tkach nor his predecessors in office have told the Church where the Auditorium Fund money collected went or what it paid for.

When the Mystery of the Ages lawsuit phased into calculating the amount of money damages Flurry would be ordered to pay, the WCG had to submit into evidence certain facts regarding its financial condition. Flurry may be basing the sale price of the Auditorium based on actual knowledge of WCG documents handed over during trial. If what Flurry says is accurate about this, Harvest Rock paid only one-third of the appraised value of Ambassador Auditorium, or the paltry sum of $7.3 million dollars for it.

Some sketchy information has come to light recently from the WCG's commercial real estate broker on the total amount the WCG received from the sale of its Pasadena campus. But Tkach has not fully informed the church of the financial details of these real property and other important transactions; as in what happened to the collections made for the Building Fund, or of the debts, assets, or balance sheet of the church. Such unaccountable arrogance of the Tkach dynasty since 1986 is grounds for impeachment of the Pastor General. Sufficient reason, indeed, for the Pastor General to be ordered to produce the WCG's balance sheet, real estate asset sales and executive compensation packages right before Senator Charles Grassley and the Senate Finance Committee.

cc: Sen. Charles Grassley
Committee On Finance
219 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-6200


New UCG Estate Building; United Landing $1.6m Texas Deal

It's 160 miles west of Big Sandy, TX; 168 miles south of Edmond, OK and and 132 miles north of Waco, TX on Interstate 35 and Milam Rd.
Just go east at the Milam Rd. exit, #473 off I-35 (notably on the southeast UCG corner is Love's 24 hour truckstop) and you're right there in the promised land.

What is it? It's land where God's new UCG headquarters building is to be erected!

The UCG land is east of I-35 on Milam road, south side, by the area marked "Hills of Denton Home Sites", in orange. (Catacorner opposite the red area on the photo marked "site").

As Clyde Kilough informs in United News:

The 81.5-acre parcel north of Denton considered a "very good value" at $1.6 million. Closing likely in early January. Further discussions of development plans set for December Council meetings.

We have been working for several months on finding suitable land, and the process gradually narrowed from several good options to one that is very suitable for filling our short-term needs, and also offering flexibility for yet unforeseen long-term options.

Here are the details:

• Property: 81.5 acres.

• Location: South side of FM 3163 (Milam Road), just east of Milam Ridge Road, Denton, Texas, one-half mile east of Interstate 35 (visible from the freeway), approximately 3 miles north of loop 288 and 7.5 miles from downtown Denton.

• Cost: $1,599,784, or $19,610 per acre.

• Appraised value: $1,710,000.

• Description: The property is outside of the Denton city limits (which simplifies the development process somewhat), with vacant land to the north, east and south, and a small subdivision adjoining to the west. The property is gently sloping to the south.

We consider this to be a very good value, not only for the specific site and price but for the surrounding area and future potential. It is, by the way, 15 more acres, for $100,000 less, than the Kings Row acreage we originally considered.

The future growth in the Denton area is moving in this direction, with four major commercial/residential developments all planned for the north and west sides of town, including a 2,000-acre project between Loop 288 and the Milam Road property.

Already under construction is a major, 412-acre mixed-use commercial/residential development approximately five miles south on I-35 that will include major department stores, Sam's Club, theater complex, restaurants, a 280-room hotel and a 90,000-square-foot convention center.

The appraisal states, "In conclusion, the market area has good access to all parts of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex via US Highway 380, US Highway 377, Interstate 35E, and Interstate 35W. It has a good single family residential base which is located throughout Denton, primarily on the interior streets. There is plenty of available land for development. The proximity of freeways and the dramatic growth of Denton are positive influences on the market area creating a good long term outlook for real estate values."

We have found a very good property with close proximity to all the services we will need, and for a very good price. We most likely will not actually close on the property until early January, but the Council gave its approval last week in light of a looming deadline for commitment. So, if anyone drives by the area, remember that it is yet private property, and please don't drive into it.

Of course, purchasing land is just a first step, and much work lies ahead. Further discussions about where we go from here with development plans will take place at the December Council of Elders meeting (which is scheduled for Dec. 11 to 13 at the home office).

Note to Clyde: So if the land is a cool $1.6 million, how much in 3rd tithe is the 1st building gonna cost?

Scroll through the facts on Denton, TX from City Data (link)