John and Laura Arnold and foundational success
Money Magazine rarely has a headline so bold. In fact most traditionally married couples are happy to find ways top see $1000 double and that the investment is in something to promote overall “good” in someones neighborhood. In the newly released Wall Street Journal Magazine for Summer 2013, the cover story is “One Couple’s $4 Billion Gift.” The article had the couple’s portrait surrounded by investors; and idea people that worked on causes. For instance Brian Greene gives money to feed the hungry from a Houston food bank. Denis Calabrese puts his money into political change. Anne Milligan throws her funds and time in lowering the crime rate in New York by collecting data and DNA records that speed the criminal justice system. Peter Attia is into health care and moreover it is his cause to end obesity. The statistics in a time of giving that has been way down since the peak in 2007 was broken down in a chart on Philanthropy.
Education topped the giving chart with 28% going to schools and colleges throughout the country. This is often attributed to Alma-matter giving. Donated vehicles was second and if you read, listen and view the pleas for vehicles from PBS to Goodwill, the auto donation industry is big business. Religion is third and that is attributed to tithing and special gifts at holiday time at 13 percent. In the survey of “high-net-worth donors funds” individuals; couples; and families, 11 percent are contributing to health and basic needs. 7 percent give to youth and family services and 5 percent give to the arts.
How now shall we give?
The top five donors in America gave or pledged over 4.5 billion dollars to causes in 2012. Warren Buffet has pledged or given more than half his wealth to charities that ranged from environmental to social issues. At the Ministry of Leadership and Communications in Colorado a study on how couples engaged in traditional marriage and married for over 15 years gave to their local church; evangelical causes; and classical education. Those who were married for less than ten years gave to programs that specifically engaged in outreach; church planting; and interactive ministries like Compassion and Habitat for Humanity and more recently to working towards awareness of Human Trafficking. Couples who were engaged in small groups that actively pursue Biblical study; friendship and relationship building and weekly outreach have been more active in the issues that face their communities and neighborhoods than those who are attend “religious” services regularly on Sunday, and who are involved in political activism. As a whole people who give to evangelical causes and community building much more than they do to political parties and religious organizations.
No-name foundations with purpose
“Traditional couples and families tend to invest in their communities with their time; their talent and their treasure and the triple threat of couple and family power is underrated by the media, therefore undervaluing the commitment to time; cause and the dollar amount given” according to the leadership team report from MLC. “The givers in the case of cause giving for evangelical advancement and service, don’t want their names on buildings; park benches or tee-shirts,” they want to help in clarifying, correcting, challenging and change that is less social and more a convergence of calling and purpose,” the report goes on to say.
Meet the Arnolds
Meet the Arnold s from Houston. They’re rich and they give to causes as a couple that they believe in. Yet they take a different approach to giving. John of Enron fame, natural gas research and hedge funds “knew he wanted to give most of his fortune away before he was wealthy.” Even in this present time of down giving, John and his wife Laura married their resources with a goal and a mission yo make what they call “transformational changes to society.” They take a data driven, investment strategy approach, Ala Money-ball, the story of how the Oakland A’s built a dream baseball team on stats and salary equations. The idea is to bring the experts with the most “far-out” ideas on issues they care about, like obesity; wealth distribution; hunger; and studying weather patterns,” bring them into a room and ask their breakthrough question: “How can we distribute 430 billion dollars that will produce the most good?”
Smart, good and off target
While that seems smart and good, it could be too simplistic in development. So in the study MLC brought to the table a strategy that was Biblical; Systematic; and Evangelical in investing. “The easiest way to get off course with time, talent and treasure, is to re-define what is good and what can do the most good. It is a good question when it’s taken in context. Yet when you add the words of Jesus about the two greatest commandments he says that, 1. Love the Lord your God with all of your heart; soul and mind. Translated with everything you’ve got! And by the way, the second one is also relational too: “then love your neighbor as you would like to be loved.” So take the Arnold’s mission and begin to break it down. “Invest, give to; give all of your resources in whatever is “true; good and right.” “Grow by thinking about what is pure and lovely and dwell on the fine and good things of others.” (Philippians 4:8). Paul is saying to think about, give to; grow in and guide and dwell (live) in what is 1. True, 2. Good 3. Right, 4. Pure; 5. Lovely; 6. Fine and in the good things of 7. People (others.) Invest in “loving God and people and what they are doing.
The Great Commission and other investments
What is good is investing in the Great Commission:
16 The eleven followers went to Galilee to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 On the mountain they saw Jesus and worshiped him, but some of them did not believe it was really Jesus. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All power in heaven and on earth is given to me. 19 So go and make followers of all people in the world. Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach them to obey everything that I have taught you, and I will be with you always, even until the end of this age.”
Matthew 28: 16-20
John and Laura Arnold’s system of giving is realistic. They know most of the foundation’s projects will fail or amount to nothing. “If you are not willing to take risk the end reward is limited.” That is a good definition of truth and faith. The report from MLC states: The challenge for everyone is to be willing to invest in God’s good work and in the good work of His people.” It asks people to invest by giving; to make a commitment by growing in the community and then guiding people in the things that God is building into our lives.”
Give, Grow and Guide
At the Ministry of Leadership and Communications there is full concentration on helping people identify and grow in at least five points of influence based on who they are, what they do; where they are and when they are ready and then why they exist. Then MLC guides them in study; relationship building and outreach in their communities and the mission field in areas of evangelism, least of these; media that feeds a hungry culture; prayer and then community building. If you would like to get involved in ministry; leadership and communications work in your community e-mail Missioncoffee@juno.com.