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MinistryWatch on ABC’s “20/20”


Introducing MinistryWatch

About MinistryWatch

MinistryWatch profiles public charities, church and parachurch ministries. It is also a place to learn about how to be a responsible giver.

MinistryWatch is an independent donor advocate facilitating the information needs of donors. It provides information on organizations alleging to be charitable and its key leadership in order to identify materially misleading behavior, or wasteful spending practices.  We also identify and highlight organizations that are above board and running efficiently.

The objective is to limit consequences of scams and prevention of fraudulent activity, promote better allocations of giving, encourage intelligent questions of organizational structure, financial health, and advance the idea of organizational transparency and best practices.

Said simply:  MinistryWatch is an advocate for TRANSPARENCY, ACCOUNTABILITY, and the renewed CREDIBILITY of Christian ministries.

MinistryWatch is a Donor Advocate

Donors make decisions where to give and how much to give based on some level of knowledge. The greater the knowledge a donor has the more likely a donation will take place. Additionally, greater knowledge produces a greater perceived value and the more likelihood of a repeat donation.

Donor needs include the following:

Openness and transparency. Prudent donors want to understand what it is they are going to support. Foundational to ethics and morals is transparency and openness. Donors want committed ministries that are open and transparent, not experts in pushing emotional buttons in fundraising persuasion. Transparency is foundational in order to make a good decision.
Due diligence integrity research. The knowledge that their donation is being used as solicited. Donors want to know that a nonprofit organization is telling them the truth and doing the right thing before God and man. Even when no one is watching.
Value and beliefs. Donors want to understand which ministries represent their values.
Efficiency and effectiveness. Donors want to know that their dollars are being used in an efficient and effective manner. Donors generally do not want to give to ministries that are overly focused on their own financial gain. Donors do not want to see leaders of ministries enamored with riches, but maximizing the ministry at every opportunity.
Best practices. Donors would like some assurance that ministries are adhering to best practices, such as good governance in its operations and open to accountability measures.

Stewardship of Donations

There is a stewardship responsibility to both the giver and receiver to see that it has been administered appropriately and not wasted. Givers will not donate if they believe their gift will be wasted or misappropriated. Even though there is not a “bottom line” net profit measurement of success or failure in the nonprofit world, there are a variety of methods of gaining understanding about how efficiently and effectively donations are utilized.

Donors will naturally utilize such measures to gain assurance that their giving was administered wisely. Accordingly, the marketplace transaction for nonprofits is simply the exchange of donor dollars for knowledge that the donation will likely achieve its desired goal of helping those in need.

Regardless of one’s beliefs about competitive forces, competition undeniably exists in the realm of Christian ministries. Ministries are clearly vying for donor dollars and regularly use standard business practices to attract as much money as possible to their ministries. Ministries with competitive advantages in terms of scale or distribution regularly exploit these for their own benefit while smaller outstanding ministries are unable to match the efforts of the larger ministries.

MinistryWatch seeks to help donors obtain accurate, unbiased information about all Christian ministries to help level the competitive playing field in the Christian Ministry Marketplace. If competition exists, it should at least be fair.

About Our 5-Star Rating System

One of the unique aspects of MinistryWatch is our deep database of the largest Christian ministries in the country.  We have been collecting financial statements for the 500 largest ministries in the nation for the past 20 years.  The most recent five years are readily available in the MinistryWatch database.

We also rate the ministries based on financial efficiency.  These ratings are based on a number of key ratios and result in a 1- to 5-star rating.  You can learn more about our 5-star rating system here.

About Our Transparency Grade

MinistryWatch also gives each ministry in the MinistryWatch 1000 database a Transparency Grade.  To learn more about how we arrive at these transparency grades, click here.

Our Statement of Faith

You can see the MinistryWatch Statement of Faith here.

To Learn More About MinistryWatch

MinistryWatch President Warren Cole Smith has done several interviews explaining more fully the philosophy and operations of MinistryWatch.  You can read those interviews here.

Our Latest Financial Information

You can view our most recent 990 here and audited financial statement here.