Making Your Gift Go Further
Global Scripture Impact Promotes Integrity and Stewardship
When it comes to charitable giving, Americans have big hearts. Eighty-nine percent of households give, with the average annual contribution topping $1,620, according to the National Philanthropic Trust.
Yet Americans have long memories, especially when their money is wasted. This finding, borne out by the nonpartisan research group Public Agenda, shows that Americans value integrity, honesty and truth. And when those values are thwarted, “the breach is nearly impossible to repair,” the report states.
American Bible Society takes this message seriously, so seriously, in fact, that it created Global Scripture Impact (GSI) three years ago to promote transparency, integrity, accountability and stewardship for many of the projects ABS supports.
All donors deserve to know how their money is being spent, says R. Lamar Vest, president of ABS. But they also deserve to know how lives are affected by their donations, he adds. GSI helps “close the gap between hopeful giving and life-changing results,” Dr. Vest says.
This is a critical distinction. Life-changing results — not hopeful giving — are the foundation for effective Christian ministry, says Mark Forshaw, executive director of GSI. Before GSI was created, ABS had few ways to validate results, life changing or otherwise.
“A significant amount of dollars were going to Christian ministry in the United States and across the globe,” Mark adds. “But we had no significant information about the extent to which those dollars were making a difference.”
GSI changed that by conducting in-depth evaluation on the projects ABS considers supporting. A team of program analysts, all with international ministry experience, explores each project to determine its validity and effectiveness — whether it's a translation project in Nicaragua or a Bible distribution program for people in Haiti.
Among tasks, program analysts will examine the project design, assess its risk, review its track record and projected results, explore the implementer's leadership capabilities and determine the organization's strengths and weaknesses. In the process, GSI works with the organizations to further develop their ability to manage the project effectively and, in turn, produce life-changing results.
Certain projects that are on the table for funding cannot withstand GSI's scrutiny, says Rhoda Gathoga, research director for GSI. And any number of reasons may account for this: poor organization on the part of the implementer, unrealistic expectations or leadership changes that pose a threat to the project's implementation.
If it seems that a project may not meet its objectives, funding can be delayed or stopped altogether, Rhoda says. Finding clarity is the reason for such extensive evaluation. On occasion, advice is offered or funding is increased to meet a gap in the organization.
“There are needs all over the world,” says Rhoda, “so we have to determine why we should fund one project over another.
“You can't save the world by dropping money into a country,” she continues. “Everybody has good intentions, but it's whether you can achieve them that matters. You need a logical plan to see that the outcomes you desire are accomplished. Accountability is necessary.”
When projects receive the GSI stamp of approval, researchers will conduct site visits on at least 15 percent of them to ensure they're meeting objectives. If they are not, steps are taken to get them back on track. If site visits are impossible because of costs, political climate or location, GSI calls upon a global network of people who can step in to validate and assess the ongoing work.
Mark says this research fosters trust and confidence, exactly what Americans want when they're looking to donate one of their most prized possessions — their money.
Learn More at GSImpact.org
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