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Why Does Wall Watchers Sometimes Send Out 'Donor Alerts' Critical Of Ministries Or Post a Shining Light Ministry Advocating For Particular Ministries?
Wall Watchers is a donor advocate and will be examining the key issues concerning ministries and related facts and circumstances of interest to donors. Wall Watchers wants all donors to be discerning, with knowledge and prudence.
Wall Watchers will periodically elicit facts from numerous sources and will follow the trail wherever it may lead, whether it is positive or negative. Donor Alerts are those items that are of a negative nature and important to donors, and Shining Lights are those items that are of a positive nature and important to donors. Wall Watchers will never provide fundraising services. Wall Watchers issues a very small percentage of Donor Alerts or Shining Light ministry lists relative to the overall number of ministries in its database. Nevertheless, we sometimes send out Donor Alerts to our readers to alert them to any ministry that may be engaged in activity that causes Wall Watchers to question if donor money is being used efficiently and/or as intended. At other times, Wall Watchers research staffers discover particularly positive information of ministries in the website database. Initially, Wall Watchers compiled data and conducted research for the sole purpose of providing donors with independent ratings and analysis. That information would serve as the basis for any giving decision that a donor might choose to make. However, the actions of some ministry leaders demanded a response from Wall Watchers beyond the standard sharing of basic information; withholding the information from donors would have been tantamount to condoning sin. Conversely, some other ministries are so eagerly transparent and willing to share information, and are highly effective and efficient in accomplishing their mission, that Wall Watchers leadership determined that the ministry's mission should move beyond empowering donors with information to actually educating donors based on the expert analysis and detailed information gathered. While such advocacy will be rare and judicious, it is necessary for many reasons. First, no matter how diligent a potential donor might be, the vast number of ministries in the Wall Watchers database (now numbering more than 500 and growing), would overwhelm most folks - "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed" (Proverbs 15:22). Additionally, many worthwhile ministries go under funded because they are unnoticed.
Is it morally Right to Take Due Diligence Measures in Giving?
It is logical to take due diligence measures in giving. After all, the world is full of fakes, frauds, and scams. Almost every day the newspaper brings another story of a well-meaning donor who was taken advantage of; however, MinistryWatch.com regularly hears from Christians who object to our attempts to encourage ministries to be open and transparent in their financial dealings, or to encourage donors to be diligent in their stewardship responsibilities.
And rather than just reject their arguments, let's look at them. We often hear, for example, that:
- It is not right for anyone to judge
- It is not Christian to be critical
- To examine a ministry is a waste of time and not trusting God and His guidance
- Stick to the Bible instead of man-made ideas
Since the objections are from a type of religious perspective, I will go directly to the Bible to answer them. But first, it must be noted that the objections do not stand up to logical scrutiny. After all, the argument that it is "not right to judge" is itself a judgment. A Christian who is critical of another for being critical is being - well, critical!
So the real question is HOW should we use the sound judgment and critical skills God has given us?
Why Donors Should Seek Ministry Information
Here are just a few of the biblical and logical reasons Christians should seek information about organizations they give to:
- The mind of the prudent acquires knowledge, And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. (Prov. 18:15, NAS)
- The mind of the intelligent seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on folly. (Prov. 15:14, NAS)
- "How long, O naïve ones, will you love simplicity? And Scoffers delight themselves in Scoffing, and fools hate knowledge? (Prov. 1:22, NAS)
- A senseless man has no knowledge... (Psalm 92:6a, NAS)
- Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge?(Prov. 19:2a, NAS)
These verses are pretty plain: God wants us to acquire knowledge.
Act upon Knowledge
- Every prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool displays folly. (Prov. 13:16, NAS)
- Apply ? you ears to words of knowledge. (Prov. 23:12, NAS)
- Five prudent women acting with knowledge, contrasted with five women who did not. (Matthew 25:1-13, NAS)
These verses take us to the second step: We are not just to acquire knowledge, we are to act upon that knowledge. Notice the harsh word for the person who does not act with knowledge. That person is called a "fool." Please listen to Scripture even in your giving habits. Be prudent by acting with knowledge when giving your money as a steward, and do not be foolish with what God has entrusted to you.
Be Careful in Your Actions
- The naïve believes everything, but the prudent man considers his steps. (Prov. 14:15, NAS)
- And he who hurries his footsteps errs. (Prov. 19:2b, NAS)
These verses take prudence to a new level. We are not only to seek knowledge, we are to examine what we learn. In other words, we are not only required to ask ministries for information, these verses suggests that we are to carefully consider our next steps. We should examine ministries closely before we give money to them.
- Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed. (Prov. 15:22, NAS)
- In abundance of counselors there is victory. (Prov. 11:14b, 24:6b, NAS)
The free exchange of ideas, discourse, discussion, and information flow is encouraged by scripture, not discouraged. Consultation takes many forms given many different issues and circumstances. Scripture is not limiting to only some types of consultation. Seek charity specific knowledge from an information provider like MinistryWatch.com and others. Then your intended stewardship will succeed and truly be used in a worthy manner, instead of the real possibility of being mismanaged, wasted, or abused.
- The lips of the wise spread knowledge, but the hearts of fools are not so. (Prov. 15:7, NAS)
- On the lips of the discerning, wisdom is found?(Prov. 10:13a, NAS)
- The lips of the righteous feed many? (Prov. 10:21a, NAS)
- The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, But the mouth of fools spouts folly. (Prov. 15:2, NAS)
- There is gold, and an abundance of jewels; But the lips of knowledge are a more precious thing. (Prov. 20:15, NAS)
These verses are ones that we at MinistryWatch.com take to heart, for these verses go to the very heart of what we do. Indeed, when we are criticized for spreading knowledge about Christian ministries, a natural answer could be: Should we be disobedient to these verses? Of course not. These verses not only encourages us to share information, but it also should be an encouragement to the ministries themselves to actively attempt to educate their own donors and the community about their financial operations and their ministry efforts.
These are just a few of scores of verses in Scripture that encourage us to diligently seek knowledge, and to responsibly share that knowledge with others in an effort to make them wise.
The bottom line is this: God would have us be wise, diligent stewards, and he would have us encourage each other to be and do the same. Why? Not because God needs us or our money, but so that our own joy can be full, so we can have the satisfaction of knowing that we truly participating in a meaningful way in what God is doing in His world.
How Should Donors Use Ministry Research?
Donors should use ministry research in the same way that investors use investment research - to make informed decisions. External research provides independent insight into the workings of an organization. As stewards of the resources that God has entrusted to them (including both financial resources and mental capacity), donors have a responsibility to know how and why their money is being utilized in the way that it is. Giving does not stop at the writing of a check; this event marks only the beginning of an ongoing two-way relationship between the ministry and the donor. Both have entered into a relationship, and both must foster that relationship. Information is the tie that binds, out of which a level of trust is built between donor and ministry.
Will Wall Watchers Ignore Fraudulent Activities Occurring Within Ministries?
The detection of fraudulent activities within organizations is the primary responsibility of internal and external auditors. However, Wall Watchers is a donor advocate and will examine documents, review outside data such as public records, interview individuals and assess the validity of complaints of whistleblowers, in an attempt to disseminate information. Withholding it runs counter to its mission of educating and empowering donors. Wall Watchers research will at times focus on analyzing organizations and key leadership that may have intentionally or unintentionally provided materially misleading data, (financially or non-financially) for the purposes of soliciting donations. It is hoped that Wall Watchers will limit consequences of scams and prevention of fraudulent activities, promote better allocations of giving, encourage intelligent questions of organizational structure, financial health, and advance the idea of financial transparency.
Wall Watchers researchers have been cautious and judicious in how they use the information gathered, sensitive to the importance of handling disputes in a biblical manner and of the necessity of first corroborating any allegations of mismanagement. However, in some cases, a ministry just simply refuses to be transparent, or has been found to have engaged in questionable or illegal practices.
Wall Watchers does not believe silence is acceptable in such situations. Scripture teaches and in fact implies that silence gives sanction to sin - "Have nothing to do with fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them" (Ephesians 5:11).
Matthew 18: 15-17 offers the model for Christ-followers to utilize in resolving disputes. First confront individually; second, lacking repentance, bring another brother or sister as a witness; third, lacking repentance, tell the whole church; finally, lacking repentance, expel the sinner. Generally speaking, Wall Watchers falls into step 3 of the process. Usually, by the time Wall Watchers discovers or hears of questions regarding financial practices or other management issues, employees or others have attempted to get the ministry to change its ways. By the time Wall Watchers is alerted and involved, it is the "whole church" - the donors - that need to know of the problems. If Wall Watchers is the first to discover suspected wrongdoing, Wall Watchers will begin with the first step of this biblical model, though withholding possible evidence of illegal or immoral activities is never an option.
Biblical admonitions require action and not to ignore fraudulent activity.
Where Does Wall Watchers See Itself In Relation To The ECFA?
Wall Watchers sees itself as a complement to the ECFA. Wall Watchers is a free donor advocate aiding donors in understanding the key issues concerning a ministry's operations. The ECFA is a membership ministry advocate, with its primary responsibility to the ministries that pay dues to the ECFA and thereby fund its operations. Each is primarily advocating for opposite sides in the giving transaction. The ECFA accomplishes its mission primarily through its seal that signifies member acceptance of its standards and Wall Watchers through its comprehensive ministry research reports.
Why is Wall Watchers not a member of the ECFA?
Wall Watchers applied to the ECFA to become a member, however the application was rejected for the following reasons:
The denial of Wall Watchers application for ECFA membership was based on a difference in philosophy concerning the rating of ministries, not because Wall Watchers could not meet ECFA's Standards.
The ECFA Board concluded that Wall Watchers' pursuit of its objectives as a member of the ECFA could create divisiveness within the membership of the ECFA.
Wall Watchers' understands the reasons for the ECFA's decision, but does not agree with the conclusions drawn. Wall Watchers' hopes that in time the ministry's efforts will help to dispel those concerns allowing for reconsideration of its application at a later date.