Tenacity

I Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

In eighth grade I had my first encounter with a tenacious spirit. I was a heavyweight wrestler, better than some and less than others. My desire was to get in shape, not to beat anybody up. We had a great team, and one of our top wrestlers was a seventh grader who seemingly weighed about a hundred pounds less than me. He frequently bested wrestlers 20 or 30 pounds more than he.

“I could take him”, I thought. We were in practice, so I jovially stepped up when it was time for him to wrestle with the big boy. My 190 lbs to his 110 or 120. He wiggled, wormed and fought with every ounce of energy he could muster. Once when he was on his butt and I was fighting up his torso, I knew I was going to pin him. I was wrong. His tenacity… not just during that match, but, in every practice, gave him an advantage that my weight and muscle couldn’t overcome. I don’t remember the exact outcome, but it certainly wasn’t a feather in my cap.

Faith is like a muscle. Faith should be tenacious. This concept is often a business principle, but it is primarily a theological tenant. Jim Collins wrote a lot about tenacity in “Built to Last” and “Good to Great”, and leaders like Rudy Giuliani and Jim Sinegal have codified the executive tenacity we expect to see in leaders. Collins, Giuliani and Sinegal have something in common… the belief in disciplined exercise of faith.

The biblical principle is found in Hebrews 10:35-38 describes a relentless, unprecedented and supernatural faith. Likewise, James 1:2-4 tells us to grow our faith. It is the practice and application of faith that is beyond our own mustering that enables us to do more than we can do on our own.

I am going through a season of growth right now. My belief in God’s call in my life is greater than ever. I tenaciously believe in what he is working in me for his purpose. And yet, there is not a reason for my faith OTHER than the fact that I am called. I stand on the precipice of the unknown. But it is known, because the Lord doesn’t lead us to places where he doesn’t want us. Hindsight faith would be easy… like 20/20 hindsight vision. I look forward to telling the stories of God’s faithfulness in the year 2011 as He has provided everything we need, at the right time and in the right way.

This week we hosted an event at College of the Desert where we were able to evangelize to over 120 people. We boldly proclaimed the name of Jesus in a place that is filled with hurting people. Faith is the conduit for evangelism.

This week we partnered with a top medical professional who has incredible connections that will benefit the children of Rooftop 519. Only God could orchestrate these things. Faith is a catalyst for action.

This week I have taken inventory of the things that matter most. I am blessed beyond what most people will ever imagine. Faith is not fueled by external circumstance.

I would not trade this last year for anything. We have had more struggles, more pain and more loss (I am afraid to count how many friends and family members have died this year). Cheryl and I are growing in our faith. We are becoming tenacious about the things that matter, even when we can’t see answers to problems. We are more resolved, more determined and more patient than ever before. Faith does that. God creates that resolve within us when we fight the good fight of faith.

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Asking for Money for Your Nonprofit

In this short blog, I’ll share an introduction to some of the things I’ve learned in my years of working with donors who have a passion for the work of nonprofit organizations. Whole books are written on the subject, but I will address just a few fundamentals in my blog. This is fresh in my mind because our board at Rooftop 519 just asked me to share a presentation on how to appeal to a donor or potential donor for funding. Today’s post relates to my recent article on Starting a Nonprofit.

The population of the U.S. is far more generous than other people groups. This isn’t because of our wealth, as we have had a history of compassion and philanthropy for centuries. I believe our biblical foundations for philanthropy as a Christian nation has created an environment for blessing, and we are currently reaping the benefit of our forefather’s stewardship.

Americans donate more each year than Portugal, Greece, Finland, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, Australia, Norway, Sweden, Canada, Italy, Spain, Netherlands and China combined. We contribute exactly twice as much as the next most generous population: Germany. There are other statistics that show we have drastically declined in our generosity (percentages of per capita and GNI giving are both on the decline in the U.S.), but we are still a very generous people. We have contributed in excess of $300 billion each year for at least the last three years.

People give to their passions. The key to helping advance an organization or cause is connecting people to that organization around their passions. For instance, it’s easy to ask a carpenter who loves his church, his community and his children to volunteer his time and talent to build a swingset for the children of the church to use. It probably creates a lot of joy for the pastor or lay leader to ask the carpenter to donate some or all of the work necessary to complete the project. Couple his work with other people of complimentary passions (a gardner, a concrete worker, a sign maker and a landscape retailer), and you have the makings of a wonderful “barn raising” party that will create a tremendous amount of synergy and accomplishment.

In the same way, financial resources can combine to do something synergistically that cannot otherwise be done. This requires someone to present a case for support to a donor for a financial contribution. An appeal like this is never singularly minded (we never just want money). The best appeal is to someone who would fulfill their passions and receive joy and purpose in their gift, as well as their giftedness. Money should never be the central theme of any relationship.

The process of determining who to ask should always start with careful understanding of your organization’s Guiding Principles. Trying to connect a potential donor to something that does not match their passions is a miserable thing to do. Asking our hypothetical carpenter to design a flyer for the local kenel club, assuming he doesn’t use Photoshop and care much about dogs, is a totally unrealistic appeal. Likewise, philanthropists are limited in their investment interests.

Here is the Board of Directors Presentation I gave this Friday that explains the roles of directors and the CEO as it relates to funding your organization. The introduction is borrowed heavily from Dr. R. Scott Rodin’s “Four Theological Foundations for a Capital Campaign”.

Whether you are raising money for a mission trip or a youth sport, you have to understand that people give to people for people. The power of matching passions is usually connected to a story that gives a compelling illustration of your mission in action. In the powerpoint above, Dr. Rodin shares the five rights of an appeal: The right person ask the right donor for the right amount for the right project at the right time.

One of our core values at Rooftop 519 is “Relationship is the Prize”. Understanding the relational nature of fundraising helps to break away from transactional thinking. Fundraising is an essential part of any nonprofit, but it is never the primary reason for a relationship.

I would love questions about nonprofit fundraising in the comments section. I’ll do my best to respond quickly.

The Great Reversal

The Great Reversal was coined by historian Timothy L. Smith. This term identified the shift of many evangelicals away from social concern to individual concern. Put another way, the emphasis of Christianity for the majority of those in the United States and the United Kingdom during the early part of the 20th century shifted. One hundred years ago, Christians en mass abandoned their passions for social concern and works to individual concern and grace.

I believe in sola gratia and most followers of the faith overwhelmingly agree that justification comes through grace alone. However, the very example of Christ’s love, compassion and evangelism, is depicted by a Christ who bore man’s physical burdens as well as spiritual pain.

Many Christians I know dislike the welfare system; I would list toward counting myself among them. The problem is that my spiritual forefathers created the need for the system by abandoning their social concern in favor of pursuing individual spiritual concerns. The Great Reversal preceded, and I believe paved the way, for the modern Government-run/taxpayer funded system of socialist care we provide in the United States. Our current bother was birthed by the impotence of the churches of yesteryear.

C.S. Lewis noted that we don’t have a soul, we are a soul. We have a body. The problem with an over-emphasis on souls is that we forget that the quickest way to a soul is through the body. Prayer changes things in the spirit, but so does a much-needed bandage to the flesh change things in the spirit.

This is not a political, psychological or sociological problem. This is a theological issue. Does the church have, and more importantly, do Christians have a primary charge to provide relief to the poor?

Matthew 19:21

Luke 11:41

Acts 4:34

Our responsibility is not social justice debate. We are in a prolonged exegetical and theological affront to our stewardship theology, primarily as it relates to our personal comfort. Can we domesticate Jesus to the point that we no longer try to look like him, but mold him into our image? We don’t need social justice, we need Jesus justice. The kind that would bring a grown man to his knees, willing to give his shirt, his job and his life for the kingdom. The kind of reckless abandon to the faith that makes it really difficult for people in need to not believe in God.

Watch how one man take on Nike Slave labor

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When Helping Hurts

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Vivid Description

A friend of mine is the president for a large design/build company. To average Joe, they are a construction company. To those who know, they are a community-driven people-first company. He is helping me to write our Rooftop 519 “Vivid Description”. The Vivid Description is a brief narrative of what our organization will look like when we achieve our strategic plan while living the values our culture agrees upon. Here is my first stab:

Long-Term Vivid Description

The Rooftop 519 movement connects millions of people in relationships that are deeply meaningful and help to complete their identity in Christ, and catalyzes them to fulfill the cause of Christ. We will help hundreds of thousands of children to be physically transformed from brokenness to wholeness. Our ability to tell the story of injured and ill children is the best in the world. Nearly everyone who hears our stories will be compelled to help. The name Rooftop 519 will become a household staple in the U.S. that represents the very best in Christian service. The worldwide perception of our organization will elicit feelings of compassion, respect and love.

Interim Vivid Description

Rooftop 519 is a social movement that engages millions of people in the cause of Christ through healing injured and ill children in his name. By 2012 we have healed over 100 children and engaged one million people to help kids reach healing. We set the industry standards for using media to tell their stories.

Our GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) adherence and best practices exceed the standards for excellence as identified by Guidestar, Charity Navigator and ECFA.

Our team of employees and volunteers live and breathe their purpose in life through the culture identified in our guiding principles.

The children who are treated through Rooftop 519 are meticulously monitored for progress before, during and post-treatment. Our team of experts establishes the best system for identifying children for treatment and connecting the resources they need for healing.

We partner with hundreds of nonprofit organizations worldwide. Our goal is to help other nonprofits fulfill their mission while simultaneously fulfilling ours.

Our relational mapping systems allow us to segment constituencies that allow us to engage people where they are and move them to where God wants them to be.

We envision a better solution to mobilizing resources and passions during Complex Humanitarian Emergencies (CHE’s). We will build the system that governments, NGO’s and other leaders look to when children are best served by coming to the U.S. for treatment after a CHE.

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I would love your feedback.

Mending Kids International

In this new wave of technology, you can’t do it all yourself, you have to form alliances. Carlos Slim Helu

A lot of people talk about partners, but what they really mean is that they want more people to get on board with their program. Partnership is not about convincing someone or a group of people that they should help you with your mission. It is about helping another person or organization achieve their mission in alignment with your own. The win-wins that ensue are inevitable.

I recently met with the leader of Mending Kids International (MKI), an organization that focuses on providing surgeries for children outside of the U.S. who cannot get help on their own. Marchelle Sellers began leading MKI 18 months ago, and she graciously gave me and one of our Rooftop 519 board members some of her time.

When the three of us entered the conference room at MKI, Marchelle was quick to open by telling us how much they rely on and look for partners. Churches, hospitals, clinics, and more… people and organizations that MKI is able to serve. The mission of Cure International is a great example. Cure International builds hospitals oversees, in underserved communities. MKI helps to find kids and get them to CI. MKI even raises money to offset the costs associated with these surgeries.

Maverick organizations are dying. In the for-profit world, organizations that isolate themselves from “outside” forces are struggling to keep up with nimble companies who find ways to help other organization while serving their own. Case in point: Google vs. Microsoft. Microsoft is a very good maverick organization. Only the U.S. Justice Department seems to have any influence with Uncle Bill and all of those that have “gone blue”.

Google is taking a different approach, and in just a few years they have built an organization that has almost half the total assets of Microsoft ($40 billion vs. Bill’s empire of $86 billion). Where Microsoft has tried to create or buy-out everything they retail, Google partners with AOL/Time Warner, NASA, Sun Microsystems and more to create better products. They have bought a few subsidiaries along the way, but their best successes come with help from partners through shared experiences.

At MKI (which doesn’t have assets in the billions, but does have the potential to serve millions of hurting and dying children), I heard Marchelle list off at least 10 partners and a potential partner during our meeting. This doesn’t water down their brand or effectiveness. On the contrary; I believe MKI is building a recognizable and sustainable brand that will influence people all over the globe. I hope I can help them to reach those kids.