An SPP from the ROK

One of the anchor concepts of Transformational Giving is the SPP–the Signature Participation Project.

The SPP is created to enable potential champions to step onto the first rung of the PEO (Participation/Engagement/Ownership) ladder.

(PEO is the engine of Transformational Giving. It’s the structure of how we disciple champions. To learn more, attend the upcoming Transformational Giving seminar and/or grab yourself a copy of my new book, Coach Your Champions.)

It’s called a ‘signature’ project because it must be as uniquely related to the organization as a person’s signature is uniquely a product of himself or herself and his or her experiences. (Wow, what a clumsy sentence. But at least I’m gender inclusive. So to speak.)

A golf scramble or an auction or a walk-a-thon is a bad SPP because it’s about as unique a signature as typing your name on a check–kind of easy to be copied, there, pal.

So here I am in the Land Of Morning Calm (AKA Korea) this week ostensibly introducing all things Transformational Giving, and what do I find here?


The nonprofit organization is called Christians For Social Responsibility. (Their counterpart, Christians Against Social Responsibility, apparently was too busy to meet me.)

CSR publicizes North Korean human rights abuses to Korea and also around the world. It was the latter part of that sentence that led to the creation of their SPP.

One of the pieces of video most recognizable to people involved in the North Korean cause is that of a North Korean defector in China attempting, with a crowd of other North Koreans, to rush into a foreign embassy to asylum–a one-way ticket to South Korea. Just as the defector is passing through the embassy gate, however, he is veritably clotheslined by a Chinese guard, who then drags the defector off…to deportation and death.

CSR recruited a famous Korean bicycle club to travel to Europe from June 8 to June 20, 2008. There, they bicycled from capital to capital, and at each capital they re-enacted the event as a costumed drama in which the riders played the parts of North Korean defectors and Chinese guards, and that same defector got collared and dragged off in every city.

The drama was always performed at the gate of the Chinese Embassy in that city, in the midst of an unsuspecting crowd, and as crowds watched, puzzled, as the events unfolded around them each time, the non-actors handed out pamphlets that talked about the plight of North Koreans and the policy of China to repatriate them to certain death in North Korea.

The SPP is brilliant on so many levels.

First, the bicycle riders were recruited into the participation activity of doing the tour. They each paid their own way–no small expense. This debunks the idea that P level activities can’t involve potential champions using their own money, and a lot of it. These riders had no particular past association with CSR, but now more than half the riders continue to be passionately active for the organization off their bikes.

Second, the idea of street theatre creates a fascinating dimension of participation. Bystanders were drawn into participation whether they wanted to be or not. As the drama unfolded around them, they had to decide, ‘What will I do? Will I do anything? What’s happening anyway? And how will this affect my lunch break?’ Street theatre is, it seems to me, an incredibly robust frontier for SPPs. I’m resentful and jealous that I didn’t think of it.

Finally, the strategy is brilliant because it maxes out each of the characteristics of a good participation project. It’s short term (13 days plus the flight). It’s high touch (you try riding on one of those bicycle seats for 13 days). It’s high impact (when was the last time you found yourself in the middle of a pack of defectors streaking to freedom?). It’s high yield (the event ends with a spontaneous protest by the newly informed; after all, they’re right there at the Chinese Embassy, and their adrenaline is flowing and their sense of righteous indignation has been raised through the roof). And it’s synecdochic (participate in one embassy protest and you won’t want to miss another; plus you’ll likely want to read the pamphlet and start learning more about the cause of NKs and China’s looney policy to repatriate them).

I came to Korea to teach SPPs…and while here I truly got schooled.

Great job, CSR.

About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Dr. Eric Foley is CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, supporting the work of persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world and spreading their discipleship practices worldwide. He is the former International Ambassador for the International Christian Association, the global fellowship of Voice of the Martyrs sister ministries. Pastor Foley is a much sought after speaker, analyst, and project consultant on the North Korean underground church, North Korean defectors, and underground church discipleship. He and Dr. Foley oversee a far-flung staff across Asia that is working to help North Koreans and Christians everywhere grow to fullness in Christ. He earned the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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4 Responses to An SPP from the ROK

  1. Pingback: A 20 minute Signature Participation Project « Transformational Giving

  2. Pingback: A nice E (Engagement) strategy « Transformational Giving

  3. Pingback: The Five Biggest Misconceptions About Transformational Giving, Part IV: “You have to be creative” « Transformational Giving

  4. Pingback: The dangers of P without E firmly in view « Transformational Giving

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