Monday, December 17, 2012

Blessed Christmas

Now, after several months out of the country with no access to my blog, I want to end this year with Christmas greetings, and wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year.  So much has happened in these last months worthy of note, and my thoughts on some of those things will again appear here in the coming days, weeks, and months.

For now, I would just focus on some thoughts of Christmas and why the spirit of charity is so uniform throughout the world, even in the midst of war, conflict, economic hardship, displacement, and most recently, a deadly shooting in an elementary school, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut.


In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, Whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a manger full of hay;
Enough for Him, Whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can give Him ... give my heart.

But, even as we think of the mystery and magic of Christmas, the music and lights of Christmas, terror rips through out hearts and minds as we see the images of the tragic shooting of children, teachers, and administrator in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.  The scenes haunt our minds, and the sobs of pain and loss break through the silence of our spaces, and interrupt the noise of commerce of the season, and remind us that life is fleeting, but also that there is room in our hearts and lives for compassion and charity to those in need.

 As I watched the prayer vigil on television this evening and listened to the prayers from clergy of many faiths, and heard the President speak words of comfort and support from a nation in morning to the families of those killed in this horrible massacre, the words of that carol bore deep into my consciousness.

For as we think back on the day more than two millenia ago, we are reminded that when Jesus came into the world, He came at the hard edges of reality.  It was a time of political turmoil, of poverty, and of oppression just as it is today.  His birth was not greeted with undiluted celebration.  Indeed, King Herod set out to kill all the children under the age of 2, all to make sure that Jesus would be killed.  So, it was a costly birth and as we read in Philippians 2:5-8, He made himself of no reputation and took upon Himself, the form of a servant, and humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death on the cross.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

You Are Not a Gadget -- Or Are You?

During the recent Annual General Membership meeting of the International Committee on Fundraising Organizations (ICFO) held in Madrid, Spain in May 2012, the issue of technology and its implications for the civil society sector came up.  But then, in our modern digital, new media era, doesn't it always seem to come up?

One of the projects we are considering at the ICFO Centre for Research and Public Policy addresses the use of new media in the nonprofit sector for branding and raising funds, and whether such use is truly compatible with ideals of transparency and accountability.  If it is not, what then?

Although I have addressed some of this theme before in various talks on media ecology, I would like to address it here again with a specific invitation to readers to submit comments that can be considered as part of our research project.

Here are some of the questions:
1.  In what way are the new media technologies good for civil society organizations?
2.  Is it possible to distinguish between effective use of these new technological tools and the effect they have on what we think and do?
3.  Does new media technology enhance or hinder communications and build relationships between civil society organizations and their donors?
4.  Are new media tools for raising money effective, and if so, in what way are they effective?
5.  What are some of the cost trade-offs that should be considered in the use of new media technologies?
6.  How do these new media technological tools enhance or inhibit transparency and accountability?
7.  Are transparency and accountability all that important in the Internet age and the increased use of new technologies, including digital technologies to effectively and efficiently raise funds for the public benefit purposes for which civil society organizations exist?

Maybe the readers can think of other questions as well.

But first this to set the stage.  Many years ago during a symposium on technology, French philosopher, sociologist, law professor, and lay theologian, Jacques Ellul, told an audience about one of his friends, a very competent surgeon, who during a discussion on technology, was asked the question as to whether he was aware of the progress in technology and science relative to the medical profession.  The surgeon responded with an answer that was both humorous and serious.  His answer was this:
I am of course, very familiar with progress in medical technology and science.  But, ask yourself this question: Currently we carry out heart transplants, liver transplants, kidney transplants.  But, where do those hearts, those livers, those kidneys come from?  The must be healthy organs.  Not affected by illness or damage.  They must be fresh.  They can only come from one place.  From people who died in traffic accidents.  So to carry out these operations, these transpants, we need more traffic accidents.  If we make driving and traffic safer, we will have fewer organs with which to carry out these wonderful operations.
Of course, everyone was surprised by his answer, and also quite shocked.

What many consider to be his most important work, Jacques Ellul, set forth in The Technological Society (1964), seven characteristics of modern technology that make efficiency a necessity.   Several of these are relevant to what this post is attempting to address.  There include: rationality, artificiality, and autonomy.

The rationality of technique, for example, enforces logical and mechanical organization through division of labor, the setting of production standards, etc.  It creates an artificial system which "eliminates or subordinates the natural world."  Instead of technology being subservient to humanity, human beings have to adapt to it, and accept total change.  For example, people questioned the value of learning ancient languages, history, religion and philosophy, and anything relating to the humanities, which on the surface, do little to advance their financial and technical state.  This emphasis on the world of information, on being able to work with computers, is invading the whole intellectual domain and also that of conscience.

One of the illusions we have is that technology gives us more freedom.  But free to do what?  Freer to go more places, see more things, experience more things, and as charitable organizations, to do more things.  We can acquire more knowledge about more of the world and about more things, and yes, that is wonderful.  I wonder how many of the people trying to travel on the Beijing metro system thought of the wonder of technology and the glory of the freedom it gave them  when they tried to go some place. Of course, especially when they did not coordinate their plans on where they were going on this particular day.

But, of course with the freedom there is another factor that must be considered.  In a technological society such as ours, it is impossible for a person or group of people to be responsible for anything.  For example, there is a dam that one day bursts and the valley is flooded.   Geologists did the survey of the terrain and decided that the rock could hold the dam.  Engineers designed the dam and supervised its construction.  Workers built the dam.  And, politicians decided that the dam was needed and where it should be constructed.  Who is responsible?  No one.

In our technological society, work is so fragmented and often bureaucratically determined and controlled.  No one is responsible and no one is free either.  Everyone has a specific task and does not have the freedom to go beyond that task.

Now the argument here is not about how we use technology and new media, and whether or not that use is good or bad.  Rather, it is about how modern technology, and specifically new media, informs our thinking and thought processes, and how it affects the way we act.  This has specific application to how we communicate and form or maintain relationships.  Indeed, it has application to and implications with respect to the questions posed above.

Since Heidegger and Habermas, technique has become a primary theme of philosophy.  Many philosophers and social scientists are trying to understand the phenomenon or see what kind of influence it has on the world.  The warning here is that people need to be alert to the future potential of technique and to the risks entailed by its growth so that they might be able to react and master it, or at least remain in mastery and control of their lives and their organizations.

Ellul speaks of a "technological bluff" he refers to the problem of language in which the word, "technology" refers to the actual process, whereas in a strict sense, technology is discourse on "technique."  It involves the study of a technique, a philosophy or sociology of technique, instruction of a technique.  It is, as Ellul writes, the gigantic bluff in which discourse on technique envelops us, making us believe anything and far worse, changing our whole attitude toward techniques.

What this discussion is about is not what technology is and can be. Rather, it is the discussion of techniques, particularly those used in communication.  The risk consists of essentially rearranging everything in terms of technical progress, which, according the Ellul, "with prodigious diversivication offers us in every direction such varied possibilities that we can imagine nothing else.  So, any discussion on technique is not justification of techniques, but a demonstration of the prodigious power, diversity, success, universal application, and impeccability of techniques."
And when I say bluff, it is because so many successes and exploits are ascribed to the techniques (without regard for the cost or utility or risk), because technique is regarded in advance as the only solution to collective problems (unemployment, Third World misery, pollution, war) or individual problems (health, family life, even the meaning of life), and because at the same time it is seen as the only chance for progress and development in every society.  There is a bluff here because the effective possibilities are multiplied a hundredfold in such discussions and the negative aspects are radically concealed.  . . .  Thus it transforms a technique of implicit and unavowed last resort into a technique of explicit and avowed last resort.  It also causes us to live in a world of diversion and illusion which goes far beyond that of ten years ago.  It finally sucks us into this world by banishing all of our ancient reservations and fears.
Now, isn't this much of what the task of government, and really of civil society, is all about?  And, isn't this really what we see happening in the civil society sector where the Internet, social media, and text messaging are where all the effective action in branding and fundraising find their central roles?

One must consider and realize that in the use of digital technology and new media, especially the Internet, there are certain Internet designs that tend to pul us into patterns that gradually degrade the ways in which each of us exists as human individuals.  As Jaron Lanier wrote in his You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto , these patterns "are more oriented toward treating people as relays in a global brain, deemphasizing personhood, and the intrinsic value of an individual's unique internal experience and creativity.  He wrote that:

     For instance, the idea that information should be "free" sounds good at first.  But the unintended result is that all the clout and money generated online has begun to accumulate around the people close to only certain highly secretive computers, many of which are essentially spying operations designed to gain information to seel advertising and access or to pull money out of a marketplace as if by black magic.  The motives of people who comprise the online elites aren't necessarily bad . . . but nevertheless the structures of the online economy as it has developed is hurting the middle class, and the viability of capitalism for everyone in the long term.
     The implications of the rise of "digital serfdom" couldn't be more profound.  As technology gets better and better, and civilization becomes more and more digital, one of the major questions we will have to address is: Will a sufficiently large middle class of people be able to make a living from what they do with their hearts and heads?  Or will they be left behind, distracted by empty gusts of ego-boosting puffery?

The issue here is that software is subject to an exceptionally rigid process of "lock-in."  Web designs were developed to attract more popular use from more people and were introduced as minimalist and accessible to all.  As a program grew in size, the software became a maze.  When other programmers got involved, it took great effort to modify software depending on its use.  Because of the brittle character of maturing computer programs, digital designs became frozen into place by the process known as "lock-in."  This occurred when many software programs were designed to work with an existing program.  "Lock-in" removes design options based on what is easiest to program, what is politically feasible, what is fashionable, or what is created by chance.  It removes ideas that do not fit into a particular winning digital representational scheme.  But, it also narrows the ideas it immortalizes by cutting away the number of meanings that distinguish a word in its natural language from a command in a computer program.

There is another "locked-in" idea which is the concept of the file.  UNIX, the MAC, and Windows all had "files" which are part of our lives.  As Jaron Lanier put it in his You Are Not a Gadget book:

     The file is a set of philosophical ideas made into eternal flesh.  The ideas expressed by the file include  the notion that human expression comes in severable chunks that can be organized as leaves on an abstract tree -- and that the chunks have versions and need to be matched to compatible applications.
* * *
     It's worth trying to notice when philosophies are congealing into locked-in software.  For instance, is pervasive anonymity or pseudonymity a good thing?  It's an important question, because the corresponding philosophies of how humans can express meaning have been so ingrained into the interlocked software designs of the internet that we might never be able to fully get rid of them, or even remember that things could have been different.
* * *
     The rise of the web was a rare instance when we learned new, positive information about human potential.  Who would have guessed  (at least at first) that millions of people would put so much effort into a project without the presence of advertising, commercial motive, threat of punishment charismatic figures, identity, politics, exploitation of fear of death, or any of the other classic motivators of mankind.   In vast numbers, people did something cooperatively, solely because it was a good idea, and it was beautiful.
     But not all surprises have been happy.  This digital revolutionary still believes in most of the lovely deep ideals that energized our work so many years ago.  At the core was a sweet faith in human nature, if we empowered individuals, we believed more good than harm would result.
     The way the internet has gone sour since then is truly perverse.  The central faith of the web's early design has been superseded by a different faith in the centrality of imaginary entities epitomized by the idea that the internet as a whole is coming alive and turning int a superhuman creature.
      The designs guided by this new, perverse kind of faith put people back in the shadows.  The fad for anonymity has undone the great opening-of-everyone's windows of the 1980s.  While the reversal has empowered sadists to a degree, the worst effect is a degradation of ordinary people.
Every element in the system, whether every computer, every person, every bit, comes to depend on detailed adherence to a common standard, a common point of exchange.  Instead of people being treated as the sources of their own creativity, commercial aggregation and abstraction sites prevented anonymized fragments of creativity as products that might have fallen from the sky, or been dug up from the ground obscuring the true source.  "The groupthink problem I'm worried about isn't so much in the minds of technologists themeselves, but in the minds of the users of the tools the cybernetic totalists are producing."

The problem is that we start to care more about the abstraction of the network more than the real people who are networked, even though the network by itself is meaningless.  Only people were ever meaningful.

So, as Jacques Ellul writes, the computer as such implies a network and a businessman [or leader of a charitable organization] has no choice and cannot acquire a computer just because he or she likes progress.  The computer brings a whole system with it.  The difference is that the technical system has now become strongly integrated.  Offices, means of distribution, personnel, and production, including the production of information or funding, have all to be adapted to it.  If they are not, they run the risk of not merely losing the advantages brought by this wonderful gadget, but also of causing unimaginable disorder by introducing computers into an organization or society without making possible their proper use.

Everything is challenged.  Can we adapt physically, socially, and intellectually to the computer?  Can we adapt morally to what the computer allows us to do, and maybe even forces us to do?  Are we as humans simply redundant.  These are some of the questions posed both by Jacques Ellul and Jaron Lanier.  What is at stake is the social link itself.  The media have now confused what used to be clearly the domain of social and private life.

There are always those who would argue that technological progress, especially with respect to the techniques employed in science, in medicine, in business, in government, and in the civil society sector as it seeks to raise funds and engage in socially impacting public benefit, is good.  Maybe it is just neutral, rather than being good or bad.  However, one of the great weaknesses of those who separate the good results of technique from the bad is that they constantly think of people as being wise, reasonable, in control of their desires and instincts, serious and moral.  But, as experience has shown, the growth of technical powers has not made us more virtuous.

Moreover, every economic, administrative, and managerial operation becomes more and more complex as a result of the multiplication of techniques.  With the expansion and extension of techniques, there is increased specialization.  Processes are increasingly refined, complex, and subtle.  With that, there is a demand for regulation by which we think we can control the proliferation of possibilities that are available as a result of the varieties of techniques available for almost every facet of life.  We draw up rules, make organizational charts, set up groups, and are convinced that we can clearly see what we are doing and control it.  The result is a multiplicity of regulations which are both finicky in how we handle this proliferation, and often contradictory for there is no longer any possibility of synthesis.  The regulations become totally detached from reality.  And by their density, scope, and complexity, they become real hindrances to any meaningful action and sources to other hindrances.  Machines cannot make our decisions.  We, as people, must make them.  But the decisions become increasingly inadequate and confused, and administrators and managers are increasingly crushed under their weight.

So, to engage our discussion of the nature and use of the techniques for production of information and communications, as well as the work of simply doing what we are called to do, we must analyze the impact and import of these technologies to the way we think and act.  In addition to the questions posed at the beginning of this post, there are four propositions that might help us in our thinking.

1.  First, all technical progress has its price.  What is that price?
2.  Second, at each stage it raises more and greater problems that it solves.  What are some of those problems?
3.  Third, its harmful effects are inseparable from it beneficial effects.  What are the harmful and what are the beneficial effects?
4.  Fourth, it has a great number of unforeseen effects.  What kind of effects might be unforeseen?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Report From Madrid -- The Public Forum

As I wrote in my last post, the Annual General Membership Meeting (AGM) was held in Madrid, Spain, hosted by ICFO member organization, Fundación Lealtad.  The ICFO meetings are organized so that there is an open public session, which is attended for the most part by leaders in the nonprofit community, some academics, and occasionally government officials.  The public session generally focuses on topics of particular interest to the host country, with presentations by speakers representing those areas of interests.  The business of ICFO is then conducted at a closed, second session the following day.  This part of the AGM is attended by the membership of ICFO, together with invited guests, usually from potential member organizations, or invited individuals involved in the third sector with special interests in charity accountability and independent monitoring.

This post will focus on the public session in which the emphasis was on institutional donors and charity accountability, and on emerging initiatives in Latin America.  For most of its history, ICFO has been concentrated in Europe and North America.  More recently, within the last four years, it has been joined by new members from Taiwan (Taiwan NPO Self-Regulation Alliance) and Mexico (Construyendo Organizaciones Civiles Transparentes, dba Confio) representing an expansion of its reach.  During its meeting in Madrid on 18/19 May 2012, ICFO welcomed new supporting member, the China Charity Information Center from Beijing, China.

The focus this year on institutional donors and on Latin America was based on the major area of work and interest on the part of Fundación Lealtad.  Much of the activity within the sector in Spain has been focused on institutional donors, with attention to due diligence in their giving activities and the role of accountability and monitoring of the sector.  But, Fundación Lealtad has also been an active missionary, if I could call it that, for the expansion of the principles of promulgation of standards and independent monitoring through Latin America.  Its website is widely read in Latin America, and it has been active in working with, and training Latin Americans in the work of charity analysis and monitoring.  Indeed, the membership of Mexico's Confio in ICFO is a direct result of the work of Fundación Lealtad and its Executive Director, Patricia de Roda.

But now, the news from Madrid and the AGM there:

The first area of discussion addressed the growing attention on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and its implication to civil society generally, and its investment in public benefit through charitable organizations.  For example, what is needed in this regard are objective measures to measure the level of corporate responsibility and the nature and level of a corporation's relationship with particular NGOs.  From a political standpoint, there was concern expressed that in development cooperation, both politically and corporately, there is a weakness due to the lack of effectiveness monitoring.  The main talking point here was that one cannot expect monitoring on the "fly;" that effective monitoring needs to be a regime.  But, that it can be complicated and expensive.

Part of this discussion centered around the question, "what do we value most?"  With cuts in budgets, institutions are cutting back on their funding of projects and charitable activities.  So, they need to be selective in what they fund.  One idea was to have a competition for ideas, and another was the need for monitoring from external modeling organizations.  It is at this point that, rather than invent new monitoring models, we need to use the monitoring ideas and models that exist.

The statement was made that donors like to think that the money they give is effective.  There was no data in support of that statement, and based on my observation of solicitations for funds and the actual giving through modern technology and new media, I am not sure that this is true for the average individual donor, who might give on the basis of images and emotions rather than on some vague concern about transparency and accountability at the point of giving.  My guess is that for institutional donors, with accountability to stockholders and other stakeholders, it is far more important.  Results and impact are important, but both institutions embracing CSR and the charities they support need to be more modest in reporting results, and gain trust through honest appraisal of those results.  After all, "we can't measure what we can't measure, such as some kind of results."  We need to be concerned about the ultimate beneficiaries, and not focus as much on numbers and not on the unseen.

A major problem exists, nevertheless, in the global economy.  All of the ICFO members are domestic oriented monitoring organizations.  The problem is how to handle international NGOs (INGOs) and NGOs that raise money in one country and work in another country.  How is the sector to strike a balance between the need for accountability and the work of NGOs, especially when that work is done in other countries and the reach of domestic monitoring is inadequate to address the actual use of the donated funds and the effectiveness or impact of the work?

Case studies from Latin America raised further issues for the sector and monitoring regimes.  The charity sector is large in Latin America, where grassroots organizations, traditional charities, and foundations make up the sector.  As a result of its Spanish colonialism and work, as well as the influence of the Church, the sector in Latin America is very much influenced by the Church and its Spanish colonial heritage.  Whereas the earlier sessions of the AGM focused on donor perspectives, the panel discussion regarding Latin America took a broader view of accountability from public perception and from the perspective of the state.  Accountability mechanisms address the interests and perspectives of donors, peers, the general public, and regulators.

In Argentina, HelpArgentina is a database service which is regulated by the charitable organizations that provide the data.  HelpArgentina designed a questionnaire on transparency standards that was completed and submitted by the organizations.  HelpArgentina does not itself verify the information submitted and posted on the database.

The problem in Mexico is that many people work for the NGOs, but that the government competes with NGOs for humanitarian and welfare services, and copies what NGOs are doing and then claims the work and results as its own.  There is also a problem with professionalism, or actually the lack of recognized professionalism in the sector.  Nevertheless, Confio has applied the processes of Fundación Lealtad, which helped establish Confio, with the purposes of establishing a database and a seal of approval for the compliance with 36 principles and subprinciples.  The analysis by Confio is posted on the Confio website.  Although Confio was established in Chihuahua, it is a national monitoring organizations recognized throughout Mexico.

There has been sustained growth of the sector in Latin America, with an emphasis on capacity building, which according to this panel must lead to accountability.  The idea is that there must be an independent body, that is, independent from the monitored organizations themselves. but should be a part of the sector so that it understands the sector.  The debate occurs in the decision regarding the type of model to be applied and where the financing for the monitoring is to be obtained.  Also, there is a question in Latin America, and I suppose elsewhere as well, as to the kind of information the donors want.

Further issues were raised regarding the sector generally, whether in Europe, the Americas, or Asia.  The first is that people do not generally donate regularly.  The technology creates an emotional incentive for giving.  So, what we have in the sector is a linking of globalization, and an attempt to balance bureaucracy and assessment, our resources, and context.  It is not possible to provide monitoring in one country which is the same as the monitoring done in another country. Yet, the importance of monitoring by national monitoring organizations, such as those that are members of ICFO must increase, with the exchange of information between monitoring organizations absolutely essential.

However, there were also questions about the monitoring model applied by the members of ICFO.  While transparency and trust are essential in any relationship, it is based on an implied social contract between the stakeholders and the charity.  The representative of Doctors Without Boarders was critical of some of the standards, asserting that accountability without assessments between need and normal accounting issues was a matter that needed attention.  Looking for effectiveness and impact over the long term may not work well all the time.  Doctors Without Borders evaluates the emergency at the time of specific need, and regards this as more appropriate in its assessments.  Moreover, there are too many codes of conduct that complicate the assessment activity and action.

There were several conclusions and questions that arose from this public forum.  One is that trust is indispensable to an effective charity sector, but that there are many factors that go into the nature of trust between donor (whether institutional or individual) and charity, between government and charity, between the public and other stakeholders and charity, and indeed, between the charity and the beneficiaries.  One is that relationships exist over the long term.  In the case of UNICEF, it has a 70 year history of working with, and on behalf of children.  Governments, donors, beneficiaries, the general public, and stakeholders in general understand this.  Secondly, the reports, whether annual reports or reports on specific projects, need to be honest.  When reports are all positive, with glowing reporting on projects, impact, or effectiveness, they will not be believable since that just simply does not reflect reality.  Also important is the need to address facts, the stories of what the charity has been doing, rather than to simply focus all accountability and transparency discussion on numbers.

Now, what do we do with this information and wisdom?  Clearly, independent monitoring is something that is necessary if principles of trust, transparency, and accountability are to be effective in the sector.  One problem observed by a number of speakers was the proliferation of standards and codes that created a certain bureaucratic response to the issue.  Secondly, technology poses many potential benefits, but also problems both in terms of the ethics applied to fundraising and branding, and to the effective means of transparency and accountability.  The CSR movement is healthy, and can provide better cooperation between the marketplace and banking and the third sector.  One word of caution, however, is that together with government funding and regulation, it could further blur the lines of distinction necessary to the existence of a vibrant civil society movement.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Report From Madrid "Who Are We: Goals and Challenges"

Welcome:  Es para mí un honor, unirme a Patricia de Roda en darles la bienvenida a Madrid y a esta conferencia internacional que se lleva a cabo dentro del marco de nuestra Asamblea Anual. La Fundación Lealtad ha diseñado un programa para la Conferencia de este año realmente interesante, con asuntos de máxima actualidad, para refexionar sobre las donaciones, la transparencia y la rendición de cuentas a nivel global. Hoy en particular abordaremos estos temas en Latinoamérica. Me críe en America Latina y a promover la transparencia de las ONG he dedicado buena parte de mi vida. Por lo que se unen hoy aquí dos de mis pasiones. Por ello mis felicitaciones a Patricia y a su equipo y al Patronato por esta conferencia.

My topic today is: Who Are We, Goals and Challenges.  There are basically two fundamental questions we all face in life, particularly as we are getting older.  The first is Who am I?  The second is Where am I going?

This last year has been a year of farewells or good byes, and transitions for me.  As a result, it has allowed me to think back on much of my life, and particularly my years on the Board of ICFO, and the past six years as president.

Since this will be my last meeting with you, I plan to address some thoughts that have been on my mind.  Some of these will address the questions: Who am I?  Or maybe: Who are we?  Part of my discussion here will be a report on what we have accomplished and some of our strengths, and maybe some of our disappointments.

Then, I would like to think with you were I am going, or more specifically, where we are going, with some of our goals and the challenges we face, and this will also look at some of our achievements, and some of our disappointments.

CIVICUS in a somewhat recent publication stated that the “growth of civil society in a scale and importance over the past two decades has increased its vulnerability.”  As CIVICUS noted in this news release, and as those of us who are observers of this sector know, civil society is challenged from three directions:  The first is internally, by risking public trust.  The second is externally, by political threats to the right to exist, or by minute and sometimes petty regulations and tax policies.  The third is the general threats to humankind that threaten all of us, such as violence, poverty, and inequality.

The legal and quasi-legal means by which governments restrict space in which civil society organizations operate, include: barriers to entry, such as those that discourage, burden, or prevent the formation of CSOs; barriers to operational activity, such as the use of law to prevent organizations from carrying on their legitimate activities; and barriers to speech and advocacy, that is, the use of laws to prevent organizations and associations from engaging in the full range of free expression and public policy engagement; and barriers to resources, which may include the use of law to restrict the ability of the CSOs to secure financial resources necessary to carry on their work.

            Governments justify these kinds of legal and regulatory measures that serve as barriers as necessary to promote NGO accountability, protect state sovereignty, preserve national security, or harmonize and coordinate the activities of CSOs.

First, we all have some questions of personal identity.  For some of us, what we do defines who we are.  In most social settings in the US, and especially in Washington, the first question you hear is where do you work, or what do you do?

For the last 32 years, I have walked into courtrooms around the US, and people stand and call me “Your Honor.”  In fact, in most places, I am introduced as Judge Van Broekhoven.  Now that I have retired, who am I?  No matter where I am around the world, people think of me as a judge.  But, really who am I?

For others, we may get our identity by what we own.  What kind of home, or what kind of car we drive, or what kind of cloths we wear, or how much money we have in the bank.  Evangelist Billy Graham was asked to speak at an event about 10 years ago in Washington, and by that time, he was declining all speaking invitations because of failing health.  He finally agreed to attend and say a few words.  With help to podium, he spoke slowly saying that he does not usually speak publicly any more, but had reluctantly agreed this time.  He told about how his cloths were starting to show the wear, so he went out to buy a new suit.  He told the audience that he would wear the suit twice: once at this occasion, and the other for his funeral and burial.  But, he told the audience that they did not want to think of him wearing the suit at this particular speaking occasion when they saw him in the coffin.

For others, we get our identity by what people think or say about us.  Do you believe this?  Can it be true that people are not thinking about us at all, or not saying anything at all about us?  That our worry about our identity based on what people think or say about us is all in vain?

           A week ago there was an article in The Wall Street Journal about giving to churches and nonprofit organizations.  The thrust of the article was that, unfortunately, churches and nonprofit organizations, notwithstanding their organizing principles, are fertile ground for scammers and con artists – from the secretary in the UK who reportedly embezzled church funds to pay for a stamp collection, to a bankrupt Southern Baptist affiliated foundation in Arizona that bilked elderly investors out of millions of dollars.  Just last month, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed charges against a nonprofit group alleging a giant Ponzi scheme.  What was interesting to me in this story was that all of the interviews for the story were with financial planners and philanthropic advisors, and that none were with representatives of two charity monitoring organizations in the US.  The thrust of this article was the importance of each donor being personally responsible for his or her own due diligence.  As I read this article, I wondered if there was a role for monitoring agencies, such as our ICFO member organizations.

But, I think there is significant confusion about our identity in our sector, the civil society sector.  What is a civil society organization?  What is an NGO, especially when it is funded and regulated by the government?  What is a charity organization?  At the last AGM, I gave an illustration of a charity in the mountains of Virginia in the US that had for over 50 years provided financial aid to the desolate and needy.  Early on, its funding came from individual and corporate donors.  But, as the years wore on, and the needs increased due to the economy, and the funding increased due to governmental policies resulting in most of its funding coming from the federal and state governments, its identity as a self-supporting charitable organization seemed to dim.  Corporate and individual donation funding dried up.  Federal and State funding ceased because of tightening budgets.  And the people who were being served went unserved and in dire financial straits.

You see, there is a great deal of confusion about the civil society sector, about NGOs and charitable organizations.

Civil society is generally understood to refer to the arena of uncoerced collective action around shared interests, purposes and values.  Its institutional forms are distinct from those of the state, the family, and the market, though in practice, the boundaries between state, civil society, family, and markets are often complex, blurred, and negotiated.

Basically, what we are talking about are voluntary associations which are mediators between the individual and the government and are engaged in some type of public benefit activity.  By this, I mean that the gap between individuals and their governments is too wide, and that we, as individuals, need some form of intermediary to provide community, purpose, shared interests and values, and belonging or relationship with others that share those interests and values.

If they are mediating organizations between government and individuals and are voluntary in nature, how are we to promote transparency, accountability, and integrity?

How do we carry this identity crisis, if it is one, to our member organizations and to ICFO itself?  Is our identity tied to what we do, that is, promote transparency and integrity through the announcement of standards and the promotion of their enforcement through monitoring, as well as the promotion and the exchange of information?  And do our promulgated Standards and our monitoring actually promote transparency and integrity and therefore contribute to our identity?  And, from where do we get these Standards?  Do we get them from some kind of consensus, or do they basically exist in nature and we merely discover and articulate them?  If the former, why should anyone care to follow them?  If the latter, why would anyone not want to follow them?

But does that mean anything anymore in an age of social media where most subscribers don’t have real identities, they just have virtual identities.  And, what does transparency mean?  How do we promote transparency when a central characteristic of the human condition is to hide so much behind a mask?  You know, we read that men like darkness because their deeds are evil.  And, how do we, or how does one promote integrity when what we really are talking about is character and virtue?

Is our identity dependent upon what we have?  Clearly our organizational budget and resources are small, and almost insignificant to the task of influencing governments to promote the nonprofit sector without the heavy hand of regulation and funding, and the sector to be transparent and accountability as an independent player in a democratic society?

Or is our identity, both as individual monitoring organizations and as ICFO, based on what people say about us, or think about us?  Why were are two member organization ignored or forgotten in The Wall Street Journal article about giving to charity or investing in charitable organizations or foundations?  How often does the EU, or any international organization come to us for advice?  How can we (ICFO), as an organization grow to spread our vision and model in countries around the world if no one is thinking about us or talking about us?

             These are some of the things we think about in ICFO.

Our name and subtitle, International Committee on Fundraising Organizations (ICFO), and The Association of National Monitoring Agencies, gives some idea as to our identity, but not a clear idea.

You see, part of the problem of identity is simply the use of the word, “Fundraising” in our name.  In the United States, that word suggests that we are in the business of actually raising funds, and raising them for something which is not clear.  But, I think the misperception exists in many places around the world.

There is no real clear suggestion that we are involved in the charity, or nonprofit, or NGO, or civil society sector.  There is nothing which indicates that we are interested in anything other than the raising of funds.  I receive dozens of emails a month from all over the world asking me to help raise funds for some project or some organization.  Just this week I received a request from a new charitable organization asking me for “expert” advice on establishing an organizational policy for the raising of funds.  Is our name too geographically focused in its description and understanding, particularly if we are an international organization?

So the question naturally is: what are we?  Well, we are an association, but you don’t get that until you read the subtitle.  What is an association of national monitoring agencies?  What is it that our members are monitoring?  How is what we are related to the charity, nonprofit or civil society sector?   Besides, since associations are made up of member organizations or individuals, how is the association identified apart from its members?

We have to look elsewhere for our identity, and it is largely in our purpose statement in our Constitution.  There are things listed there that we do, in order to give confidence to donors that the donations are used for the purposes for which they were given.  So what do we do? We promote transparency and integrity, we gather information and provide for its exchange, we formulate standards for nongovernment charitable organizations working internationally, and we promote charity monitoring organizations.  But these are our purpose statements, not clear statements of who we are.

We don’t have much in the way of resources, and don’t really have a staff to do these things, and not many people outside our circle think about us, so our identity is not even based on what we do, what we have, or what people think about us.  Rather, it is based on the strength of our individual national member organizations.  And frankly, in a global world made up of sovereign nations with their own histories, traditions, legal structures, and policy goals, this is the way it should be.  But, I do think that without a clear understanding of who we are, we will have some trouble growing, being influential, and serving as change agents in a world in which the whole idea of civil society has become blurred, especially in a world made up of faltering economies.

But the lack of a clear and understandable identity does not mean that our existence has been for naught.  So, there are some changes we have experienced over that past 10 years, and certainly over the past six years.  There have been some successes and some disappointments that are worth reporting, I think.

First, and foremost, I think, we have really formalized our existence through the formal registration of ICFO in Amsterdam with the filing of our Constitution, and through the establishment of tax exempt status and opening up our own bank account.  This suggests a major change from a somewhat informal gathering of like-minded national leaders sharing information, to what I hope, is the beginning of not just an organization, but of a movement committed to independent or self-regulation monitoring, with standards, and compliance enforcement.  I think some of this is simply reflected in the boards you have elected.

Let me just say a word here about our able treasurer, Eva Birath.  As some of you may know, Eva was diagnosed with metastasized breast cancer two months ago, and is not here because she is undergoing chemotherapy and other treatments.  Eva is an able lawyer who has led our Swedish member, SFI, for about six or seven years now.  Her diagnosis and treatment have been a major shock and cause for alarm for all of us who work with her.  I have assured her that we miss her here at the AGM in Madrid and that she is in our prayers.

Secondly, ICFO has in the last six years established its identity internationally through its participation in conferences around the world, its published articles, the enhancement of its website, and with its blog.

While ICFO has always had representatives in conferences in Europe, in the last five years it has extended its reach to speaking engagements in South Africa, Britain and Scotland, Australia, Taiwan, China, and Cambodia.  The distinction in these appearances has been that while ICFO Board members have regularly participated in conferences and seminars in Europe, they have done so in their capacities as leaders of their respective national monitoring organizations rather than officially representing ICFO.  In fact, my guess is that their representation has been more based on their roles in their respective national organizations, and perhaps on their expertise in the subject, rather than because they were members of ICFO or of its board.

My impression is that the ICFO website is getting a lot more attention as well.  It has been cleaned up to a certain extent, and I believe carries much more substantive information to the sector itself, as well as to the general public that is interested in standards of accountability, however we define accountability.  Further, there is a “members only” section of our website that promotes the exchange of information between members and renders, also, the ICFO Board accountable to its member organizations.  So, we practice what we preach.

Our blog is now being read in over 100 countries and in 38 different languages.  From the statistics I see, many of the exit links are to ICFO website, and to ICFO member organizations websites.  Additionally, both Adri and I have Twitter accounts in which we tweet news relative to the work of ICFO and relevant to the sector generally.  My guess is that between the two of us, we have over 1000 followers on Twitter.

While in China last month, I started a blog on, and from the statistics I have seen, there have already been more than 150 hits on the site.  The posts are translated into Chinese so it is available in Chinese.  So far, I have been blogging about our AGM on my Chinese blog.  I also opened up a Weibo account since Twitter is not available in China, and I have about 12 or so followers on Weibo.  In both the blog and Weibo account, I have discussed our AGM here in Madrid, and especially, CCIC’s application for supporting member.

Less than two weeks I started an ICFO research and public policy information website, and there have already been over 1500 visits to the site since I started it.  One of the items on the agenda for our formal business session of the AGM is recommended approval of a research and public policy center for a network of scholars in which contributions can be made to the literature relevant to the foundational issues of independent charity monitoring and some of the issues that seem to plague us year after year.

Over the last six years, our ICFO membership has grown by five new ordinary members from nine ordinary members to thirteen.  In this process, we have expanded from an essentially European-based organization with two members from North America, CCCC in Canada and ECFA in the US, to an organization that now includes Asia and Central America, as well as new members from Italy, Spain, and the U.S.  We have also gained some supporting members, including China Charity Information Centre (CCIC), and DonorInfo from Belgium.  Indeed, today we welcome CCIC to this AGM as our newest member.

We are disappointed, of course, with the loss of long-time member, OFSE from Austria, and the loss of several supporting members from the UK, one who had just joined ICFO the year before as a supporting member.  If ICFO’s identity is tied to a movement advancing the cause of nongovernmental independent standard setting and monitoring of the civil society sector, the loss of any national organization that shares these goals is a major disappointment.

Another source of encouragement and strength is evidenced in these AGMs.  For the last five years we have been able to dedicate a full day to the public section of our AGM, with greater public participation, largely because of the relevance of the topics.  I remember the AGM we had in Amsterdam in 2009 when we had half a day limited to experts in issues of cross border fundraising.  You might remember, this was shortly after the European Court of Justice announced its decision in the Hein Persche v Finanzamt Ludenscheid.  This gave us a chance to discuss substantive issues raised by that decision with nonprofit experts, lawyers with experience in tax law and nonprofit law.  What I don’t know is whether those discussions and ICFO influence led to any changes in the laws in the EU member countries.  Clearly, it seems to me, had we in ICFO been on top of it, other than merely talk about it in an AGM meeting, we would have tried to exert some influence on the legislative process which we would hope would recognize independent monitoring of the sector, and especially in those countries, such as Portugal, that had a direct affect from the decision.


Another disappointment is that for years we have worked with monitoring groups in Cambodia and Philippines, and more recently with a mature monitoring organization in Pakistan.  In all these countries there is an active charity sector and mature and effective independent monitoring organization.  We have had an ongoing relationship with China’s Charity Information Center, CCIC, for about four years now, and today we celebrate CCIC’s joining ICFO as a supporting member.   It really is a pleasure welcoming He Bin here today, and trust he will give Amy Peng, the Director of CCIC, our thanks and congratulations, as well as pass my personal greetings to my friend, Mr, Liu Youping, the Vice Director of CCIC, who planned on being here, but could not, and also to Mr. Xu Jianzhong, the Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Civil Affairs for Social Welfare and Charity Promotion.


One significant achievement that I think we can be happy about is the pre-publication of the ICFO Conference Booklet, A Comparative Overview on ICFO Members and the Charity Sectors in Their Countries.  This book is a follow-up to the 2002 comparative survey prepared by Mrs. Ingrid -Hélène Guet.  It has been carefully planned and discussed over the years, but we believe that it is an important addition to the information base people look to when they are interested in how charities are evaluated for transparency and accountability in various countries.


What is sad is that there are not a lot more countries in this comparative overview, especially since according to many statistics, there are something like 300 or more self-regulation, or independent monitoring initiatives around the world.  This should be our target audience if we are interested in a movement toward non-government monitoring models or regimes.  Nevertheless, this booklet is not just a matter of promoting the exchange of information between ICFO members, it does hold out the potential for informing the general public around the world about what we, as members of ICFO, are doing to promote transparency and accountability, as well as integrity within the sector.  It is being updated with some additional statistical information that our members suggested should be included during their responses to the questionnaires we distributed.  Also, since CCIC has just been accepted into membership, we have asked China to complete the questionnaire with its data.


One thing you might notice in this booklet is how our ICFO membership is spread between a number of older, mature monitoring organizations that have been around for many years and some newer and recently established organizations.  What you need to understand from these statistics, however, is that the regime of setting standards and monitoring organizations against those standards for accreditation or certification purposes is very new and recent in our history.  While many have done some form of social research and data collection, what we do now is quite different, and our agendas are quite different.


Well, where are we going?  The story is told of Albert Einstein, the famous Nobel Prize winning physicist, who while riding on a train was asked by the conductor for his ticket.  As Einstein searched through his pockets without success, the conductor told him not to worry, saying “Dr. Einstein, I know who you are, so you don’t have to worry about the ticket.”  Nevertheless, Einstein persisted in looking for the ticket.”  The conductor continue to assure him that he knew who he was and when things seemed to calm down, continued through the railroad car punching the tickets of other passengers.  As he stepped through the door to the next car, he looked back and saw Albert Einstein on his hands and knees on the floor of the car looking for the ticket.  The conductor went back to Dr. Einstein and once again told him not to worry, that he knew who he was.  The professor looked up from the floor, and told the conductor, “I know who I am,  I just don’t know where I am going so I need to find that ticket.”

According to our Activity Plan for 2012-2013, which will be presented at the formal business session, there are several goals or policies that are to be advanced and implemented in the coming year to advance the purposes of ICFO I discussed earlier.

The first is to publish the Comparative Study.  This has been a goal for several years, and we are close to completing the first phase of this project.  I say first phase because it will require regular updating as the years go on.  You are receiving a copy of this prepublication version at this AGM

The second is to update the data base on accredited organizations and publish it on the ICFO website in the members’ only section.  There is also the goal of developing and enhancing the ICFO website and member organization websites.  Several goals which we set several years ago was to have the members include their Standards in English as well as their own respective national languages and to clearly provide a link to ICFO’s website.  For the most part, this has not been accomplished.

Other goals address capacity building for existing members, and building on some of our specific contacts.

These are all small, and somewhat incremental and procedural goals that simply advance the cooperation of the association and perhaps help the membership.  Similarly, the goals of obtaining funds from various sources, such as the EU, simply would provide some of the resources needed for these activities.

What is lacking in this activity plan is a visionary statement for the future; a future that could be described as a movement!  The idea of a Centre for Research and Public Policy offers a major step forward in this regard, assuming ICFO is open to be the foundation for such a movement.

Well, what are some of the challenges and barriers to such a movement?  These will be identified without being in any particular order.

The first is simply a problem of language, and what I see as the lack of any clear desire for accountability, either on the part of the sector or donors.  Oh, it is true that we talk a lot about it, but our actions really do not confirm what we say.  I think part of the reason is because we really don’t know what we are talking about and what it means to the sector.  First, I think that there is simply some confusion about the sector and who does what.

If we are talking about the charitable sector, about charity, about humanitarian activities, and about welfare contributions to society, then we have some problems just defining what the charitable sector is.  This is especially true if we are looking at ICFOs core mission and goals.

The subject, and where we in ICFO is going gets a little complicated when we talk about corporate social responsibility or CSR, and whether our member organizations have any business monitoring the issue of the overall impact of a business on society, and whether or not, that is even a matter of government regulation and monitoring.

The word, “accountability” has become a term of modern political correctness in our society to describe a process that has little to do with the choices that are being made by governments, organizations, including NPOs, or individuals.

Originally, the word “accountability” was related to finance, and nothing more.  The idea was that it became the language used by experts to describe and evaluate and the process of whether money was treated in accordance with specific rules.  If all we mean by the word, “accountability,” is that an organization reported money in accordance with certain prescribed rules, and nothing else, then what good is accountability if there is nothing of significance for what an organization must account?  Besides, to whom is accountability owed, and if all that is required is for an auditor to certify that accounts were true and fair as a result of the application of some arbitrary rules used to evaluate the activities of an organization, then an organization is free to account only for those financial matters certified by the auditor without some external reference to any moral principles or standards not specifically related to finances.

A second challenge is the challenge posed by technology.  To a large extent, technology has made us less interested in accountability.  Several years ago there was the story in the papers about the US Administration claiming to be the most transparent and accountable administration in American history.  What it did, it started meeting in coffee shops outside the White House so the discussions did not fall under the laws that required record keeping, and so were not subject to disclosure.  Similarly, government organizations, corporations, and nonprofit organizations frequently engaged in what we call data dumps.  In other words, massive amounts of records were uploaded on to the Internet without any way to find particular pieces of relevant information.

Some of you may remember the movie, “Class Action” many years ago in which one of the parties to a lawsuit filed a motion for discovery against the other party, a major automobile manufacturer.  The manufacturer produced and delivered a tractor trailer truck with hundreds of boxes of documents in which there was one piece of paper that provide the information requested in the motion.  There was no way the plaintiff in that case could have discovered the requested information.

During the Japan earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, one the American Red Cross raised approximately $4 million in three or four days, of which over $1.5 million was raised through television and Internet appeals and text messaging.  Impulse donors gave gifts of $5 or $10 through texts, without any expectation of accounting for the donations and charitable or humanitarian services provided.

The prevailing view is that anything that is technologically possible is legally and morally permissible.  As a result, moral codes or ethical standards cannot keep up with the scientific and technological progress, and law simply has no way of addressing these advances in a timely manner.

I might agree that social media and new media might be valuable for branding purposes for a charitable organization, and may be even valuable for raising a lot of money in a short time.  If the goal is to build a donor base and relationship with donors, my guess is that new media and text message giving is virtually useless.

A third challenge to our goals of expanding the role of independent, nongovernment monitoring, and self-regulation within the sector is what I see as an increasing role of government, and indeed of the social welfare society versus the nature of civil society and charity.

This is especially true when governments fund, or provide significant funding to civil society organizations.  Government’s have a right, I believe, to set the terms for the granting of such funding or obtaining certain social services by contract, and requiring adequate oversight through audits.

But, what about the sector generally where there is no direct funding by the government?  My observation, both in the United States, and as I travel around the world is that because of the economy, governments are looking for ways to increase revenues, and that often involves eliminating tax deductions and tax benefits, including the taxation of charities and reducing the tax deductibility of donations to charity.  Similarly, every scandal, and every story in the media tend to prompt governments to look at regulating the charity sector more than previously.

Some 200 years ago, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote concerning his native France as a growing and centralized state:

            “I see an enumerable multitude of men, alike and equal, who turn about without repose, in order to procure for themselves, petty and vulgar pleasures with which they fill their souls.  Each of them when drawn apart is a virtual stranger, unaware of the fate of others.  His children and his particular friends form the entirety of the human race.
            “As for his fellow citizens, he is beside them, but sees them not.  He exists only in himself and for himself alone.  And if he has a family, one could say at least that he no longer has a fatherland.
            “Over these is elevated an immense tutelary power which take sole charge of assuring their enjoyment and of watching over their fate.  It is absolute, attentive to detail, regular, provident, and gentle.  It would resemble the paternal power if like that power it had as its object, to prepare men for manhood.  But it seeks to the contrary, to keep them irrevocably fixed in childhood.  It loves the fact that the citizens enjoy themselves, provided that they dream solely of their own enjoyment and happiness, but it wishes to be their only agent and sole arbiter of that happiness.  It provides for their security, foresees and supplies their needs, guides them in the principal affairs, directs their industry, divides their inheritances.  Can it not relieve them entirely of the trouble of thinking and of the effort associated with living?
            “In this fashion, every day it renders the employment of free will less useful and more rare.  It confines the action of the will within a smaller space and bit by bit, it steals from each citizen the use of that which is his own.  Equality has prepared men for all of these things.
            “After having taken each individual in this fashion by turns, into its powerful hands, and having kneaded him in accord with his desires, the sovereign extends its arms about society as a whole.  It covers its surface with a network of petty regulations – complicated, minute, and uniform – through which even the most original minds and the most vigorous souls know not how to make their way past the crowd and emerge into the light of day.  It does not break wills; it softens them, bends them, and directs them.  Rarely does it force one to act, but it constantly opposes itself  to one’s acting on one’s own.  It does not destroy, it prevents things from being born, it extinguishes, it stupefies and finally, it will reduce each nation to nothing more than a herd of timid, industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd.”
Everything in this quote from Tocqueville reminds us that the lines between government, the market, and civil society are blurred, both with respect to their functions in a society and with respect to how issues of transparency, accountability, and integrity are to be promoted without destroying or impeding the function of the sector.

It seems to me that one of the measurements of our successes or weaknesses in ICFO as an organization is how successful we have been in influencing society, and through that influence, governments, to allow independent or self-regulation monitoring and certification or accreditation schemes.  Similarly, are successes or weaknesses can be measured by our assistance to groups within the sector that are operating nationally to encourage the establishment of independent monitoring organizations, such as those represented here.


Well, it is time for me to conclude and say my good bye.  I simply have tried to share some of my personal passion, and I hope the passion of ICFO as the fountain of a movement, and some of the challenges we face.

But none of this is about me or my agenda.  I put my wrist in a bucket of water, and pull it out and discover that I did not leave a hole.  So, it is with ICFO.  And, so, in closing I would like to read a poem that has long been a favorite of my grandparents, parents, and of mine and that expresses my personal goals in life.

1.      May the mind of Christ my Savior
Live in me from day to day,
By His love and pow'r controlling
  All I do and say.
2.      May the Word of Christ dwell richly
In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph
  Only through His pow'r.
3.      May the peace of Christ my Savior
Rule my life in every thing,
That I may be calm to comfort
  Sick and sorrowing.
4.      May the love of Jesus fill me,
As the waters fill the sea;
Him exalting, self abasing,
  This is victory.
5.      May I run the race before me,
Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus
  As I onward go.
6.      May His beauty rest upon me
As I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel,
  Seeing only Him.