Equipping the Saints

A Guide for Giving to Faith-Based Organizations

Barbara J. Elliott

For any individual donor or foundation giving money to a faith-based organization, this guide is indispensable. Equipping the Saints offers sage advice on recognizing the qualities of good leaders, effective programs, and the methods of evaluating outcomes. Based on hundreds of interviews with donors and civic leaders, this guide provides a candid look at the unique strengths and weaknesses of these groups. Equipping the Saints is packed with useful tools like a donor's interest inventory, a checklist for making a site visit, tips on reading nonprofit financial statements, and hands-on recommendations for making grants that are both effective and prudent.

"An excellent guide for philanthropists seeking to unleash the power of faith in healing troubled souls and transforming troubled neighborhoods."
—Adam Meyerson, president, Philanthropy Roundtable

"Most donors quickly learn how all that glitters is not gold. Some go on to learn how all that is gold does not glitter. In this book Barbara Elliott provides the lessons in discernment and the tools for evaluation that donors need. Take advantage of her understanding by making it your own." 
-Marvin Olasky, ditor of World magazine, author of Compassionate Conservatism and The Tragedy of American Compassion

"Any donor with even a hint of interest in exploring investments in the work of faith-based organizations (FBOs) needs this book. It is packed with practical information about how to understand and assess FBOs. Its numerous examples of real-life donors making real-life differences through partnerships with faith-inspired community healers ought to stimulate much creative brainstorming among philanthropists." 
-Dr. Amy L. Sherman, senior fellow and director, Faith in Communities Initiative of the Foundation for American Renewal

"From the perspective of a local foundation giving to faith-based ministries, we have found Barbara Elliott's work to be inspiring, practical and instructive to us as we think through our priorities and principles for funding decisions…I have extraordinary respect for Barbara's scope of understanding, ability to communicate with passion and reason, and her deep understanding of a very complex field. She gives all of us—ministries and funders—genuine hope and invaluable insight."
-Fred Smith, president, The Gathering

Introduction, by William A. Schambra / 7

1. Why Give to Faith-Based Organizations? / 11

  • Agents of Social Change, / 11
  • The Spectrum of Faith-Based Organizations, / 13
  • From “Faith Founded” to “Faith Saturated,” / 14

2. Due Diligence / 16

  • Beyond the Culture Clash, / 16
  • Questions to Ask Before You Give, / 17
  • Gift Size and Analysis Should be Commensurate, / 18

3. Evaluating Programs 21

  • Drucker’s Self-Assessment Tool, / 21
  • The “Faith Factor,” / 22
  • Documented Results, / 23
  • Outcomes-Based Evaluation, / 25

4. What to Look For: Signs of Health / 28

  • Signs of Health in Faith-Based Groups, / 29
  • Penetrating Questions to Ask, / 30
  • Peer-to-Peer Advice: Tom McCallie, / 32
  • Beware of Red Flags, / 32

5. Capacity Building: Leveraging Impact / 34

  • What Foundations Can Learn from Venture Capitalists, / 35
  • Curriculum for Capacity Building, / 36
  • Examples of Donor Engagement: Leveraging Promise: The Maclellan Foundation, / 38
  • Social Capital plus Competence: Fred Smith, / 39
  • Entrepreneurial Skills: David Weekley, / 40
  • Building Capacity Across the Country: Pew, / 40
  • Generating Revenue: Social Entrepreneurs, / 41

6. Ways to Give: Models in Action / 44

  • The Gathering, / 44
  • Philanthropy Roundtable, / 44
  • Generous Giving, / 45
  • Community Foundations, / 46
  • Christian Community Foundations, / 47
  • Jewish Philanthropy, / 48
  • Kingdom Oil: Jay Bennett, / 48
  • Taking Personal Initiative: Foster Friess, / 49
  • Little League and Hope Academy: Bob Muzikowski, / 50
  • Creating a Nonprofit Campus, / 51
  • Intersection with Business: David Oelfke, / 51
  • Entrepreneurial Brainstorming: Paul McDonald, / 52
  • Nehemiah Strategy: A City-Wide Vision, / 52
  • Strengths of Intermediaries, / 53
  • Suggestions from the Field, / 54

Conclusion: Motivation Matters / 57

  • Moses Maimonides on Tzedakah, / 57
  • The Motive of Agape, / 59
  • An Investment in the Eternal, / 60

Notes, 61

Appendix. Donor’s Toolbox for Evaluationg Faith-Based Organizations by The Legacy Group, Inc. / 63

Tool 1. Donor’s Giving Interest Inventory: John L. Stanley, / 63

Tool 2. The Giving Continuum: Defining Your Approach to Giving, / 66

Tool 3. What to Look for in a Philanthropic Advisor: Peter A. Giersch, / 67

Tool 4. Tax and Legal Ramifications of Giving to Faith-Based Organizations:

Patricia G.Woehrer, / 69

Tool 5. Analyzing Nonprofit Financial Statements: Mary Kay Mark, / 73

Tool 6. Faith-Based Organizations from A to Z: A Donor’s Guide: Barbara J. Elliott, / 76

Tool 7. Checklist for a Site Visit: Mary Kay Mark, / 78

Tool 8. Checklist for Due Diligence: Patricia G.Woehrer, / 80

Contact Information, / 85

American Book Publishing Record—New Providence, NJ

Why give to faith-based organizations?—Due diligence - Evaluating programs - What to look for: signs of effectiveness—Capacity building: Leveraging impact—Ways to give: models in action - Conclusion: motivation matters - Donor’s toolbox for evaluating FBO’s by the Legacy Group, Inc.

Word on the Street—Vol. 4, No. 1

Because it’s intended to help donors decide how to wisely direct their support of small faith-based organizations, this book also serves as a useful guide for the organizations that need to attract those donors. Elliott is the foundation of the Center for Renewal, a resource center for faith-based organizations. She has worked for major national think tanks and publications, and she writes and speaks on the roles of faith in civic renewal.