New CEO’s First Day on the Job

Jacinta CEO Intro Long
This comes from the Life on the Rutledge monthly enewsletter that gives short blurbs about the ministries with which Mason is involved.  Subscribe.  You can do so by clicking here.
January was a monumental month in the long history of CRISTA Ministries. It isn’t often that we transition between CEOs. CRISTA Ministries has only had six CEOs in its 69-year history. History was also made because we now have our first female CEO of CRISTA Ministries. On January 15, Jacinta Tegman took over the helm.
Vice Chair of the CRISTA Board, Jill Going, introduced Jacinta to the CRISTA employees the morning of her first day. It was a tremendous celebration and opportunity for Jacinta to share her vision.  You can watch the entire CEO introduction and Jacinta’s speech by clicking here.

Jacinta outlined “God’s plan for CRISTA.” She talked about her long history on the campus. How as a young teenager she worked in the laundry for just a few spending dollars. She shared the history of the campus, going back to the pre-CRISTA years, when the campus was a tuberculosis sanatorium. She talked about how this property became a place of hope in a difficult time for people being challenged and outcast by society.

Jacinta reminder the employees that while we are an organization that operates with professionalism and excellence, we are more than just an organization. “We are CRISTA Ministries,” she said, “not CRISTA Industries.”

And what does it mean to be CRISTA Ministries in this new era? Jacinta outlined four points to our common calling:

  1. Serve and Love God – “Our first ministry is to Him and to be transformed by His love, mercy and grace.”
  2. Serve in Mission – “We are called to serve needs. It’s as relevant in 2019 as it was 70-years ago…Ministry means service.”
  3. Service to Each Other – “We must trust the potential in each of us.”
  4. Service to Community and World – “Let us step into the world’s pain and make a lasting difference in Jesus name.”
It was a powerful first day on the job. In the campus’ long history – before titles, organizations or jobs – it was evident that God has been active in this place. “We don’t do the work of God,” Jacinta said. “We join in the work of God. This is a ministry to serve the needs of people with the love of God.”
“We are in the business of hope and the world is starving for it,” Jacinta concluded. “Let us be brokers of hope.”

“Enough Leftover for Pizza”

We have a God that wants to bless us.  He is not afraid to hear our large prayers.  He is ready for our specific requests.  His only expectation is that we are attentive to the small details.  If we do so, he is ready to bless us with the big stuff.  You can read more on this topic from my recent post by clicking here.

As a follow up to that blog post, I wanted to share the following story.  It points to God’s provision and our work to be and pray specific.

I ran a training conference for a few hundred young leaders from around the world.  It was a residential conference, so the students lived in the dormitories on this beautiful, urban college campus.

Students came with a lot of luggage and large bags because this was a three-week training conference.  Coming from around the world, we were moving in students all day.  To make for an easy move-in, students propped open the exterior doors.  Once in their rooms, they opened windows to get fresh air in the rooms that had been vacated by the college students a few weeks earlier.

The hallways were full of laughter, smiles and conversations as these young leaders left their dorms for the general session across campus.  They left with so much excitment and expectation that they didn’t think about closing doors or windows on this beautiful college campus.

When the students returned to the dorms after the orientation, many found that their luggage and bags had been ransacked.  Opportunistic thieves came through propped open doors and open windows and had helped themselves to wallets.  The police said that they had probably been watching us move in all afternoon and when we left the doors open, they took advantage.

We worked through dinner gathering a list of what was stolen.  We were lucky that it was only wallets.  Clothing and computers had gone untouched.  The problem is that these young folks were planning on three weeks of spending money so they had a lot of cash.  At the end of dinner we announced that we would be taking an offering that night at chapel to help the students recover.

The speaker that night asked the students to give.  This was a newly forming community, so we didn’t know what to expect.  We had come up with a figure for how much we needed.  The speaker said, “We need $4,536.”  He could have said, “We need about forty-five hundred” or “We think we need about $4,536.”  Instead, he spoke boldly to the amount, boldly to the work of the investigators in aggregating the total and boldly to the need.  “Let’s pray for $4,536” and then he prayed and passed the baskets.

After chapel the leadership team gathered to count the cash.  These were young leaders in ministry.  They didn’t have much, so most of the giving was in ones, fives, tens and even coins.

We carefully added everything up.  First, groups of dollars, then groups of tens, groups of hundreds and thousands.  We worked to pull it all together like children having busted open piggy banks.

As we looked at the running total and the pile of money remaining, we all thought, through wry smiles, “We are going to land on exactly $4,536.”  Could that be?  Could this be some kind of amazing miracle?

Well, we didn’t land exact.  Our final total was $4,548.  We were $12 over.

The speaker didn’t let the possible miracle go unnoticed, he said to our team, “That is how God works.  He gives you exactly what you need and then enough for a pizza.”

Cards and wallets were found by police a few days later in the bushes near a casino.  There wasn’t any cash remaining.

We distributed the funds from the offering to the victims.  The story of the tally became lore during the three weeks.  It changed the way those students prayed, praying specifically.  It also changed our mindset when we all ate pizza.


Pray Specific for Baggage Fees

This month at World Concern, we are praying for $1.96 million in new funding.  That is $1.96 million to be received in this 30-day month.

I had someone say, “Why not just pray for $2 million?”  I thought, “Because after the diligent work of our accounting and income processing people they have determined we need $1.96 million.”  He responded, “Have you met accountants?  You should pray for $2 million.”  Needless to say, this guy was in sales.

When I look at the Bible and the use of figures, numbers and currency, God does not round.  It wasn’t “about 10 disciples.”  They didn’t catch “around 150 fish.”  Baskets didn’t return with a “few loaves.”  Twelve, 153, 5 and 3, 70, 40 and a whole bunch of other numbers were used in exact figures in the Bible.

The God of the Bible is an exact God.  We aren’t whirling out into space on an approximation…”I’m glad that worked.”  He has numbered your days…God is not thinking you will live “for awhile.”  Recall that this is the Lord that knows the very number of hairs on your head.

In the Jewish mindset numbers were very specific.  They didn’t round up, down or simply change figures, because numbers meant something.  Specific numbers were important in the Biblical times, they were important to God and they should be important to us.

Figures may be intimidating.  Even as I share raising $1.96 million in one month, you may think, “Holy cow” (we’ll get to that).  By having an exact figure, we may miss the target and that is disappointing.  We don’t want to be disappointed, especially in our efforts, prayers or especially, God. Our figures are not intimidating to God.  He had a plan.  This is the Lord that owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  Most of the time we just need a cow.

This isn’t just about numbers, God also wants us to do the work.  The Bible is clear that if we are faithful with the small things, God will bless us with the big things.  J. Robert Clinton of Fuller Seminary calls it the 16:10 Principle.  It’s based on the verse, Luke 16:10, that says if you are faithful with the small things, you will be faithful with the big things.

Should you really expect God to answer your prayers for $1.96 million if you don’t even have the ability to truly know if you actually need $1.97m, $2m or $1.7m?  The scripture and personal experience has shown me that if you are not faithful with the small things, like being specific, God will not bless you with the big things of life.

For a time I was managing a number of ministry budgets that were in deficit.  This required a deep dive into ministry operations and budgeting.baggage.jpg

As I poured over budgets and talked to Executive Directors, there was one consistent.  They all had various issues, from lack of income to a bad hire to an event that lost money, that put them in the red.  But there was one expense that all of them had in common.  Each of these ministries had paid a baggage fee for a plane trip.

In their season of mandated money micromanagement, I asked, “Why?”  They responded, “It was just easy.,” “I didn’t have time to pack,” “Wasn’t sure what to do.”  This was the themes to the answers…a general lack of planning and inattention to the small things.

So then I started to look at surplus budgets in-similar organizations.  Those ministries did not have expenses for baggage fees or book orders from a local book store or a large Starbucks account bill (and Lord knows I like my Venti Frap).

Now does $25 for a baggage fee make a difference?  Not in $1.96 million.  What it pointed to is that they were not being thoughtful of the small things.  The thought was that $25 doesn’t matter.  They are correct.  It is a small amount.  It should not be sweated.  Yet, there should be a mindset that says, each little bit counts because it is all God’s and I will act and plan like that it true.

So the accountants have done the work.  We’ve check the figures.  We trust a big God.  And we are praying for $1.96 million this month.  Join in the fun.  Pray with us and let’s see what God does as we push to the end of the month.

How Santa Gets It Done

We are entering the most wonderful time of the year.  It is a season of celebrations, recognition and gift giving.  Being in the non-profit space for decades, I have dozens of good friends to celebrate, recognize and give gifts.

AGift by front doors you think about the coming season, which is already busy with family, festivities and fundraising, how do you find time to coordinate gift giving to the people who have impacted your work?  This is a challenge for anyone working with people — insurance, sales, fundraising, real estate, etc.

Here are three C’s, three M’s and three G’s that provide a step-by-step plan for executing a successful gift-giving season for your clients, donors or customers.

C — Communicate.  Start by letting folks know that you are going to be in their area.  See if you can set up a time to meet.   Let them know that you want to give them a gift and have the opportunity to say, “Thanks,” face-to-face.

C – Connect.  When you communicate, let them know that you want to connect.  Meetings are preferred.  If you can’t meet face-to-face, let them know you are going to connect by dropping a gift by their office or home.

C – Cause.  Gift giving gives you a reason to meet with folks.  It isn’t easy to meet with busy schedules.  The good news is that people are more open to grab a meal or coffee even during this busy holiday season.  Gift giving can cause a meeting.

M – Map.  Be effective in the use of your time and fuel during this busy season by mapping a tight route.  There are a couple of programs that are helpful.  If you have more than four or five stops, use BatchGeo or Drive Smart Driving Route Planner.  With four or less, I would just use Google Maps.

M – Meet.  You’ve prepared, now meet. Hopefully you’ll have a number of scheduled individual meetings, but don’t be discouraged if you do not.  Drop-by’s are fine.

Meeting people at the door during a “drop by” takes an aptitude for quickly reading people.  Some don’t like anyone at their front door.  Others may invite you in for a drink.  When you meet folks at the door, read and react.  My rule is always, don’t be weird. If it’s awkward, hand them the gift and say, “Thanks.”  That is fine.

If you are dropping off the gift at the office and do not have a meeting, I simply drop it with the front desk or assistant.  I won’t interrupt most people’s work days with an unscheduled meeting.  I just haven’t found it fruitful.  I do spend a few minutes at the front desk, getting to know the receptionist and hope for an invitation…”Oh, she’s not busy, let’s just have you give it to them.”

M – Mat.  As for dropping it off at the house, if you go to the door and no one is there, leave the gift on the front door mat.  Obviously, make sure it’s a dry space.  Don’t leave it in a USPS mailbox as that is a federal crime (it’s true).  Also, don’t leave perishables on the mat or they will be a gift to the squirrels and a mess for your contact.

G – Go.  Once you’ve given or dropped the gift, go.  Walk to your car and drive away immediately.  No need rush, but get out of there.  Driving between places takes a level of coordination and you can’t (shouldn’t) do that work while driving.  Just drive away from the house, get around the corner, pull to the side and then do your coordination.  Doing it in front of the house just looks sketch and can lead to more awkward…no one needs more awkward.

G – Gloat.  While pulled over to the side coordinating your next stop, send a quick email or phone call to your last stop and gloat.  Don’t really gloat, but let them know that you have dropped off a gift at their front door and they should make sure and pick it up.  This is only for “drop-bys.”  If you met the person send a thank you note in the mail saying, “Thanks for meeting…”

G – Get it.  You will do many stops over this extended period of time, so whatever system you use, i.e. database, notebook, Salesforce, note that the delivery has been made.  Get it down in the system or on paper.

I don’t know how Santa Claus does it, but this is a way you can get it done.  The good news is that you have more than one night. Use the three C’s, three M’s and three G’s and celebrate a happy new year when this whirlwind of a season is done.

Start the gift giving by sharing this blog post with those you know who are in sales (insurance, real estate), fundraising/development or non-profit leadership.

Merry gift giving.

7 Steps to Your Ask

April is here and the spring fundraising season is upon us.  Between now and the launch of summer, there will be auctions, banquets, bbqs, breakfast, skeet shooting, golf tourneys, luncheons and teas.  These funding events are key to the financial success of the non-profits which we love.

Key to each of these events is the ask.  You can have all the best table decorations, beneficiary testimony, pledge card or skeets, but if you don’t have a quality ask your event my flop.

PItchThe following is an outline of what makes for a good ask.  This post will help non-profit executives make a quality choice of a person to give the pitch at an event.  It will also be helpful for the person giving the pitch, either as a guide or as a coaching tool.

1. Relax.  It is important for the pitch to be relaxed, comfortable and to flow as a part of the evening.  This means that the person doing the ask is very familiar with the purposes of the organization.  They should know the organization, it’s people and operations very well.  Being relaxed at the event means they have done their work prior to the event.  They should have passion for the mission purpose and be able to articulate it well.

2. Note Taking.  If I am doing a pitch, I am constantly taking notes during the event.  I listen to all the speakers and take the best of what they said and incorporate it into my ask.  This is the difference between any pitch and a great pitch.  It helps tie the night together.  I will have a general framework for the pitch prior to the event, but that framework will be filled in by what happens that night.  I use colorful quotes from the event.  I bring up the testimony.  I tie up loose ends.  My efforts are to remind people of the points during the evening they should remember.

3. Remind the Why.  I remind attendees why they are at the event.  I remind them that we (the people in attendance) care.  “Look at the people we have helped.”  “The mission is a good steward.”  I paint a very good picture of the organization.  The person doing the pitch should very much believe these statements…or find another person.  This is almost an assumptive sell.  I speak in the language that I want those in the audience to speak.  “I like this organization.  I like it’s people.”  Shoot, even “I like this guy.”  Say the words that you want those in the audience to say in this moment.

4. Extraordinary. Now, take it up a notch.  Remind folks that they are here to do the extraordinary.  We aren’t hear to do the ordinary.  Brenda and I have a standard dollar amount, that if you invite us and we accept, we will give at a fundraising event.  It’s our “ordinary gift.”  When doing a pitch, my hope is that those in attendance have been moved so that they are prepared to give more than their “ordinary gift.” I hope that they would give the extra ordinary.  In fact, depending on how the night goes, I may even admit the existence of the “ordinary gift” and encourage them to double it.  Now that is extraordinary.

5. Ask.  Ask people to give.  Ask for a sacrificial gift.  Never hesitate to ask people to invest.  They have been motivated by the people who spoke during the event and are ready to give.  This must be the mindset.  If there is a specific ask make it clear.  If the organization isn’t clear about their ask or have too many asks, the person giving the ask must have them clean it up.  The ask must be clear and compelling.

6. Mechanics.  Be clear about the mechanics of how the attendees actually give.  “Grab your pledge card.  Wave it in the air” (have some fun with it).  Tell them that they will have a couple minutes to fill out the card at the end, first we are going to walk through the pledge card.  Ask them to give that night.  Unless there is a clear mandate, do not say, “Take this card home and decide.” That is a killer.  We certainly want their pledge during the event and hopefully a check, transfer or directive.  Make sure it is clear what they are supposed to do with the pledge card and check once they have them completed.  Don’t assume that the table hosts will give this direction.

7. Be Yourself.  Now be yourself.  Forget all that I’ve written.  Forget the myriad of things you have heard from event producers, executive directors and major donors.  The pitch will not work if the person giving the pitch has all of the best input but they are not themselves.  Take in all that input, but in the end let the ask must be their ask and their way.  This is key.

Thanks for serving in this way.  It is a gift to have a quality ask at any event.  Own it, let it be yours, give direction, be confident, have fun and ask.

Today is the Day to Give

‘Tis the season for all-day football watching marathons, hitting the slopes and going to the malls to return those over-sized, unwanted gifts.

It’s also the season of giving.  Most non-profits raise one-third of their annual budget in November and December.  The vast majority of those dollars come in this last week of the year and a good chunk come in on the last day of the year, the 31st.

end-of-financial-year-signThis year the last day of the year, the 31st, falls on a Saturday.  That means that many of those financial moves will have to made on the last business day of the year.  That is today.

The last business day of the calendar year (again, today) is certainly beneficial for non-profits and it is also a beneficial day for you as a donor.  It is the last day to take advantage of gains, protect yourself against unneeded taxes, offload loses and prepare your financial home for the coming tax season.

Here are some thought about giving and specifically year-end giving…

First, I hope you and your household have a plan for giving to those in need.  I have worked in the non-profit space for three decades and I have personally seen thousands of families impacted significantly by giving away their resources.  Financial giving is a gift that gives both ways.  It helps fund the needs of our world, but it also gives to you, the donor, in ways that are incredible and incalculable.

As you prepare to give, search your own heart and mind.  What do you care about?  Where do you want to make an impact?  In our house we want to invest in our most immediate community (North Everett, Wash.), to long-time friends in non-profit service, and to the poorest people in the most difficult places around the world (primarily through World Concern).  That is where we focus our giving.

We also look for ways to have a donations matched.  At year-end, many non-profits will offer matching dollars.  You will see this on their website or in their materials.

So identify non-profits that address the areas you want to impact.  Ensure that they are qualified non-profits.  A good way to do so is at  They have done the work for you.  Look for “four-star” charities.  These are charities that live to the strictest financial and missional requirements.

With the charity picked, you are ready to give.  So how do you give?

One of the easiest and most mutually beneficial ways to give is appreciated assets.  Do you have a stock, bond or other security that has gone up in value since you bought it?  Donate the appreciated asset to the charity.  Don’t sell the asset and give the proceeds or you will have to pay taxes on the proceeds.  Donate the stock directly.  Almost any non-profit is prepared to receive assets.

For those that are 70 1/2 or older, check on a withdrawal from  your traditional IRA.  A “qualified charitable distribution” could be helpful.  Check with your tax professional.

Of course, you can give by cash, check or credit card.  If you are going to send a check, it must be postmarked by Saturday, December 31st.  Rather than risking a USPS postmark, I suggest going to the organizations website and giving via credit card.  Most all non-profits are set up for this kind of giving.  If not, you can call the non-profit directly and give your credit card information over the phone.  This gets the money directly to the non-profit and limits any issues with the mail.  It makes it cleaner for you and for the non-profit organization.

Another option for giving cash or check to a non-profit is just hoping in the car and driving to the non-profit.  Make sure you contact the offices first to ensure someone is at the office.  This is a busy time for these folks, as well.  Giving the check directly is encouraging and helps connect you to the non-profit and their staff.  In fact, when you call a staff person they may just come by and pick up the check.  Take their offer.  These public servants are people that you are going to want to meet and know…especially if you are investing in them and their organization financially.

Remember to also have a good CPA and/or tax consultant help you with your giving plan.  They should review and guide it.  Also consultant a professional.

We are an very generous people in America. Yes, there are tax advantages in our country to giving, but the truth is we are people who care.  The average annual household in the US make a contribution of $2,974 (but you can beat that…don’t you want to be above average).  Last year, as a country, we gave donated $373.25 billion to non-profits.  That was better than a 4% increase over the year previous.

I think we can do better than a 4% increase this year.  Share this blog post with your circle of friends and encourage them to give.  Encourage them to give where they feel led in 2016.

Today is the day.  Don’t delay or procrastinate.  Make your financial moves that allow you to be a generous person who is well connected to their community and the needs of the world.

Certainly Give; Certainly Ask

In this season of giving please remember that there is great joy in asking.  Everyone gives at Christmas, but very few of us ask…ever.  This begs the question, how does anyone know what to give if we never ask?

question-markI’d encourage you, especially during this season, to ask.  Not so much for a drone, sweater or mermaid-tail Snuggie, but on behalf of someone else.  Ask for your favorite charity.  Ask for a neighbor in need.  Ask for your church or parish.  The point isn’t the place as it is the practice.  Ask.

The Bible says that you have not because you ask not.  It’s in reference to God answering our prayers, but you can embroider from this basic principle.  By asking we give God, and by extension others, the chance to move.  Of course God and our friends and neighbors can give without our asking, but then we don’t get to be a part of the miracle…and anyone giving away their money these days is a miracle.  Join in the fun.  Ask.

I can remember a few years ago, I was supervising about 80 people that all raised financial support.  Each of them had very aggressive fundraising goals and their livelihood depended on it.  There was need and cause.

It was in this season we sold a house, my last parent passed away and the company for which my wife worked paid a handsome and well-reported dividend.  Each of these events were significant financial events in our lives — equity, inheritance and bonus.  All of our staff, each raising their own support, were aware of each of these changes in our lives.

So how many of them asked us for a donation?

None.  Not one.  I didn’t even get a passing, passive “Hey have you thought…?”  Nothing.

I recently had a friend whose last parent passed away.  He was wrapped up in months of legal issues and family wrangling as they worked out the inheritance.  It was difficult work.  Having lived through similar situations, I talked with him and prayed for him.  After more than a year, it finally wrapped up.  The best news was the reconciliation and peace of the family.  That can be a challenge in these situations.  Everyone was paid out and thankful.  It was a great relief.

About four months later, I was on a walk with this same friend.  We were talking about life and as a part of the conversation I asked, “Have you thought about tithing off of your inheritance.”  It wasn’t that smooth, but I had a sense that I should ask.  The question was fumbled and somewhat awkward.  An inheritance is some of the most intimate work in anyone’s life.  He briefly told me that they had thought about it.  I told him, “Way to go.  That is rare.  Well done.”  And we quickly left that awkward interchange.

I felt like I had stepped in something during this walk…and it stunk.  I feared that our relationship would change.  It just felt awkward…and I haven’t even asked for a dollar amount or for a charity or anything.

It was about three weeks later when I ran into my friend.  He said, “Hey I brought up to my wife that you had asked about inheritance, tithing and such.”  I thought, “Oh, boy.  Here it goes…she was, we were offend…how could I…etc.”  Instead he said, “She was amazed that you asked.  Thankful.  It showed you cares for us.  Thank you.”

There was nothing textbook about this ask.  It would never be a part of a podcast or a training video.  It was an awkward, unfamiliar walk on eggshells.

The point really isn’t HOW but IF.  It’s not the technique, but will you just ask.  It will probably never feel good, normal, smooth.  Just ask and then be quiet.  There aren’t any “style points” for asking.  The point isn’t looking good.  Don’t worry about it.  Just dive.  Ask.  See what happens.

This is a season to give…so ask.