Philanthropy Expert Calls Upon Creflo Dollar and Other Media Ministers to Open their Financial Books
Contact: Dr. Steve McSwain, senior vice president, Cargill Associates, Inc., 800-433-2233
MEDIA ADVISORY, Jan. 7 /Christian Newswire/ -- In a televised interview on CNN, Friday, January 4, 2008, Larry King interviewed media minister Creflo Dollar of Atlanta. Dollar and several other ministers have been recently targeted by a Senate probe initiated by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). In light of the allegations of opulent lifestyles, extravagant spending, and possible financial scandals, Grassley is seeking to investigate the ministries of Paula and Randy White, Eddie Long, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, Ken and Gloria Copeland, and, Creflo Dollar.
When asked by Larry King why Dollar was unwilling to provide Sen. Grassley with a full accounting of his ministry's financial matters, Dollar conceded he would not on the basis of "principle" only.
What Creflo Dollar and other media ministers do not seem to understand is that, in a garden of secrecy all that grows is suspicion. In the book, The Giving Myths, I devote an entire chapter to the culture of secrecy regarding individual giving that the Church has promoted for decades. It may be one thing for a donor to insist his or her charity be kept a secret, but it's another thing entirely when a ministry, as the beneficiary of a donor's charity, refuses to disclose just how the ministry is managing the resources entrusted to it.
Therefore, for the sake of moral integrity and the credibility of media ministry, I respectfully call on Creflo Dollar, the other ministries under Grassley's investigation, and all media ministries in general to remove the veil of secrecy surrounding their ministry income and expenditures and willingly disclose this information.
Suspicion sows doubt and doubt gives way to mistrust. When donors mistrust their ministers, just as a garden cannot survive without rain, those ministries will eventually dry up from lack of support. And, well they should, if a refusal to disclose is their modus operandi. I see it all the time in my giving ministry in virtually every denomination in America (www.stevemcswain.com). In virtually every church and denomination in the US, donors are asking, even expecting, a full disclosure of the church's income and expenditures. There isn't a church in America that would survive very long if a leader withheld such information from those persons from whom the leader requested financial support. Media ministers should be just as accountable and provide every donor a complete disclosure of the ministry's financial matters (i.e., how much is received, what is being done with the money, as well as the ministry's payroll, including what's paid in salary to the media minister him-or-herself). Any ministry that would refuse to cooperate in disclosing all financial matters is a suspect ministry at best and may be hiding a garden full of weeds.
In light of the suspicions and, ultimately, the disappointments that resulted from the exorbitant salaries, lavish lifestyles, and moral failures associated with Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart, you would think every media ministry in America would take the initiative in cultivating confidence in the way they receive and disperse a donor's gift and the way they report on both. The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) would gladly assist any of these ministries. They have provided accreditation and oversight to Christian nonprofits for nearly three decades.
Sooner or later, and my hope is, sooner than later, the day will come when every media ministry that wishes to be trusted, or viewed credible in any way, will be required to provide a full disclosure of all funds received and be held accountable for how those funds are disbursed. Media Ministers should not need a Senator or the IRS to enforce the moral values of integrity, accountability, and honesty. But, if that's what it takes, so be it.
Dr. Steve McSwain is senior vice president of Cargill Associates, Inc., (1-800-433-2233), (www.stevemcswain.com). As an expert in philanthropy and fundraising, McSwain has provide oversight and spiritual guidance to hundreds of Catholic, Evangelical, and Protestant churches nationwide helping them raise hundreds of millions for Christian causes. His most recent book is entitled: The Giving Myths (Smyth & Helwys Publishing, Inc.).