over the past couple of years i have researched foundation grants by looking up their purpose statements on their website and on sites like guidestar and then pulling the foundation's 990 records to determine the organizations and projects the foundations funded.
this afternoon, i finally had the opportunity to get my hands on the foundation center's* database, which is the fort knox of philanthropy, and a librarian gave me a short tutorial. instead of toying with the foundation's purpose statement, she encouraged me to pull the records of the foundation's awards in the past five years and then utilize foundation center's amazing distribution map to see where the dollars really went. unsurprisingly, i found that the actual giving patterns of many foundations deviates significantly from their stated giving patterns.
although i hate to admit it, i see a similar pattern in many of our churches. we say that we are a missional people, but 90% of our dollars go to content deliverers and the context within which the content is delivered. we profess our longing for God, but we give short shrift to prayer in corporate and, i fear, in private. we proclaim the Kingdom while passionately buttressing the country we incorrectly believe was specially inspired by God.
from now on i'm going to define each foundation's purpose in strict accordance with their giving patterns. i think that many define our churches in the same way and we would do well to pay more attention to our actions than we do the pretty, stylized purpose statements we hang on our deep mustard and mocha creme walls.
* (unfortunately) foundation center did not compensate me for nor sponsor this post.