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Ministry Watch News

Frequently Asked Questions About MinistryWatch

Why and How We Do What We Do

Welcome to MinistryWatch! We hope you enjoy the daily content we provide, all designed to restore and enhance the TRANSPARENCY, ACCOUNTABILITY, and CREDIBILITY to the Christian ministry marketplace.
MinistryWatch has been around since 1998, but we “re-booted” on October 16, 2019. Since then, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about WHY and HOW we do what we do. I want to take an opportunity to answer a few of them here. So here they are, in no particular order.
Where do you get your stories?
I have been covering the evangelical world for many years, at WORLD Magazine, The Colson Center, and elsewhere. I’m able to take advantage of years of contacts and experience to help identify stories.
We also subscribe to Religion News Service, and pay attention to what our friends at other news outlets are writing. For example, we have developed relationships with The Roys Report and Religion Unplugged, and we often share content with these organizations.  We have also developed a stable of veteran freelance writers who contribute regularly.
We get many of our story ideas from people like you, who forward to us local stories that they think have national implications, or stories they think we can add value to with additional reporting. So please do not hesitate to email me with story ideas. You can either hit the reply button on the daily emails (these reply emails come directly to me) or you can email me at [email protected].
How do you arrive at your Financial Efficiency Ratings? Your Transparency Grades?
The answer to this question is too involved for this email, but we have created documents that answer them both. To learn about our Transparency Grade, click here. To learn about our Financial Efficiency Rating, click here.
How do you determine if a ministry should be in your database?
In general, we are trying to track the 500 largest Christian ministries in the country. These ministries account for more than $17-billion in annual giving. However, we also track ministries that are not among the 500 largest but which are in the news for one reason other. We are therefore constantly adding ministries to our database and, occasionally, deleting ministries that have merged or gone inactive or out of business. If you would like to suggest a ministry for our database, please email me and we’ll consider your suggestion.
You cover a lot of bad news. Do you ever report any good news?
Absolutely. At least once a week (usually on a Tuesday) we tell a good news story, a story about Christian ministries doing great work in the world. We call these ministries “shining lights,” and you can see all of these stories here.
Beginning in June of 2020, we started a series called “Generous Living.”  That series tells the stories of Christian donors and philanthropists who are engaged in “radical generosity.”  You can read a recent example here.
How many people receive your daily emails?
That number is a bit of a moving target, but currently we have just over 100,000 people on our email list. These people (and you are one of them!) either signed up on the MinistryWatch website, or you signed up on another site and gave that organization permission to share your email address. We understand that some people may not even know they did that. (You know the “terms of agreement” in tiny print that no one reads? It was probably there.) So please know that you can unsubscribe AT ANY TIME either by hitting the “unsubscribe” button at the bottom of every email I send, or simply by replying to any of my emails and saying “unsubscribe.” We’ll be sorry to see you go, but we don’t want to clutter up your in-box with emails you don’t want.
What is your annual budget?
The budget for our 2020-2021 fiscal year is about $350,000.
Where does your money come from?
Our money comes almost exclusively from donors who believe what we do is important and want to see the work continue. (We do make some money from speaking engagements and other services, but that revenue amounts to less than 10 percent of our budget.)
We do not sell advertising or sponsorships, and we do not accept money from ministries (though we do have pastors and ministry leaders who, as individuals, donate to us). We have some donors who give us one-time gifts of as little as $10. Many of our donors give monthly. We have also been blessed, over the years, to have a few major donors who have made large gifts to help us continue to operate. We are grateful for all gifts, large or small! If you’d like to make a donation, you can hit the link at the top of each daily email I send, or you can click here.
Warren Cole Smith

Warren previously served as Vice President of WORLD News Group, publisher of WORLD Magazine, and Vice President of The Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He has more than 30 years of experience as a writer, editor, marketing professional, and entrepreneur. Before launching a career in Christian journalism 25 years ago, Smith spent more than seven years as the Marketing Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers.