Notes in the key of E: The three elements of E

The Participation (P) phase of Transformational Giving (TG) is all about champions being recruited into a cause by means of a project. The Ownership (O) phase of TG is all about champions recruiting others into a cause by means of a project.

The Engagement (E) phase of TG sits in between P and O. Omit it and you have the next wave of traditional transactional fundraising (ttf), as well as an explanation for 90% of nonprofit social media strategies.

In other words, ttf is rapidly moving towards a P-O model of donor involvement: empower the individual to own a project, and let him or her recruit everyone else to join in.

Problem is, it’s a counterfeit kind of ownership: the donor gets to own the project…but the nonprofit continues to own the cause.


Because in the ttf mindset the donor can’t possibly be expected to understand the complexities of the cause. They lack the personal experience and education to act in such a way that the cause is genuinely, seriously impacted and social ROI is created.

In ttf, it is axiomatic that organizations create social ROI, not individuals. Individuals invest, and according to ttf’ers, the wave of the future is that they’re given better data to invest in the orgs that create the most social ROI.

But you did not so learn TG.

In TG, individuals create social ROI, not organizations. Organizations are the ones doing the investing, and what they are investing in is individual champions.

The Engagement (E) phase is the crucial differentiator. It’s the piece that ttf cannot replicate (and, truly, has no interest in replicating).

E is where champions are trained to impact the cause. It’s where they live out Ephesians 2 and 4 by being coached to carry out the works God has prepared them (not orgs) to do since before the foundation of the world.

To achieve this, three elements must be present in any Engagement strategy. Get two out of three of these and you still fall short. Get all three and you still fall short unless the Holy Spirit shows up. After all, when the goal is transformation, we can foster the conditions for it…but God must bring the increase.

The three elements that are co-essential for Engagement are as follows:

  • Equipping
  • Educating
  • Experiencing

Sadly, because of our ttf conditioning, we’re prone to mis-read the above list as follows:

  • We substitute Encouragement for Equipping
  • We substite Informing for Educating
  • We substitute Emotion for Experiencing

To these three false cognates and the three true embodiments we now turn in each of our next three posts.

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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