• Fred's Blog

    An Avalanche of Cash

    After the earthquake in Haiti, the tsunami in Japan, and the typhoon in the Philippines, millions of Americans (and a fair number of Gathering participants) responded to the immediate needs through Twitter, Facebook and text donation appeals from scores of well-known relief organizations. Of course, there are more than a few scams that proliferate after every disaster. The earthquake in Nepal will be the same. Years from now even many of the better-known organizations (like the American Red Cross) will be either holding millions of dollars in unspent money—or worse will have used the money on projects completely unrelated to the original appeal. Years after Superstorm Sandy a third of…

  • Fred's Blog

    Beneath Another Sky

    This week I received a note from my close friend of many years, Terry Parker. He wrote: “As I think you know, about five years ago one of my grandchildren, Katie, who was nine years old, was given a death sentence because of a brain tumor. She came to live with us as we are a mile and a half from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In seven months from diagnosis she had died. While she was with us, I read to her every day for hours. But I could tell that she was sad because she couldn’t do what the children in the books I was reading were doing. I…

  • Fred's Blog

    The Game Has Changed

    When I worked with Bob Buford, I asked him how he had become so successful in the cable television business. His quick response was they had concentrated on being a dominant supplier to a specialized niche. That meant his company was not the only game in town but was so good at what they did that people thought of them first. They occupied the mental box marketers call “top of mind.” While winning this space may not eliminate competition, it makes it harder for others to win away your customers. For decades nonprofits have occupied a similar box in the minds of private foundations and donors. I remember well an…

  • Fred's Blog

    An Embarrassment of Riches

    Dr. Gardner Taylor died this week. For 42 years he served as the senior pastor of the 10,000-member Concord Baptist Church of Christ in Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn. He was the author of many books and 2,000 sermons, as well as the recipient of 15 honorary doctorates. Gardner was named by TIME magazine as the dean of black preachers and considered one of the most influential preachers in the English-speaking world. As a close friend of Martin Luther King, he shaped the earliest years of the civil rights movement when in 1961 he and Dr. King founded the Progressive National Baptist Convention. This gave Dr. King a national base of hundreds of…

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  • Fred's Blog

    The Gospel Drone

    In 1967 film maker and devout Christian Irwin “Shorty” Yeaworth (whose first popular movie was “The Blob”) produced “The Gospel Blimp” as a send-up of the craze over mass evangelism using the latest technology to reach a whole community in the most effective way possible – an inflatable blimp manned by a “Commander” and his crew. They towed Bible-verse banners, “firebombing” the unchurched citizens with thousands of gospel tracts and broadcasting Christian music and programs over loudspeakers. Things unravel and the new technology ends up being just one more way of wasting money with little positive effect. But for a brief moment it is new and exciting and full of…