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the little agency that could

by T.R. Scott

The biggest Free Will Baptist national agency you’ve never heard of operates with a staff of two men and a secretary. That’s not bad overhead for an organization with a $27 million bottom line. It’s called the Free Will Baptist Foundation.

General Director, William (Bill) Evans, said without blinking, “The FWB Foundation exists to help our people fund the ministries of our denomination. That’s our prime directive. We operate on one percent of the assets we manage, but my goal is to operate on one-fourth of one percent as the Foundation continues to grow.”

That kind of talk from denominational executives brings smiles on the national convention floor.

Associate Director David Brown, a CPA and 1979 graduate of Free Will Baptist Bible College, affirmed the cheery forecast. “The Foundation is the denomination’s best-kept secret. We need to get word out that you can trust us to manage your assets so you can give more than you thought possible.”

A Different Animal

The Foundation began with a zero balance 25 years ago. Assets surged from $932,000 in 1993 to a whopping $27 million in 2004. It grew by $6 million in 2003 and $7 million in 2004, heady stuff for what was a mom and pop operation in 1980. The agency manages more than 650 agreements with individuals and organizations.

David Brown, Arkansas-born son and great grandson of Free Will Baptist preachers said, “If we get 250 more agreements by 2008, we’ll be managing $50 million in a program that will pour dollars into the pockets of national agencies, regional ministries, state works, local churches, and Free Will Baptist individuals.”

Brown continued, “The Foundation is a different animal from other agencies in that we are not directly involved in sending missionaries to foreign fields or home missionaries to America’s cities. We do not educate students like FWBBC nor produce literature like Randall House. But what we can do we do better than anybody else—we provide one of the critical raw materials they need to complete their missions. That critical ingredient is money.”

The Free Will Baptist Bank

The FWB Foundation quietly paid out more than $1.4 million in endowments, planned gift arrangements, and revocable trusts in 2004, pushing dollars into Free Will Baptist hands.

Bill Evans said, “We want to become the Free Will Baptist agencies’ bank. We believe we have the track record to earn the people’s trust. We’re paying returns of 4.3%, with up to $50,000 available on seven days notice.”

Driving his point home, Evans said, “We want to become the prime center for Free Will Baptist lay retirement planning in exchange for a lifetime income agreement and a significant charitable remainder gift. The numbers are almost unimaginable how many dollars are invested in other organizations because they don’t know there’s a Free Will Baptist alternative. We have the resources right now among our people to revolutionize denominational giving.”

Beginning August 1, 2005, the FWB Foundation will operate under its own nine-member board.

Touching Everybody

The Foundation serves a broad range of constituents beyond national agencies—regional colleges, state associations, district associations, children’s homes, local churches, individuals...and more.

“We offer our services without pressure and without obligation,” said Director Evans. “All we require is that everyone who uses our services be formally willing to benefit a Free Will Baptist entity.”

“The Foundation is the planned giving arm of the denomination,” said David Brown. “We never tell donors what ministries they should benefit. That’s important for them to know and for us to never forget.”

The Foundation assists planned giving through numerous avenues, including three most often used—endowments, charitable gift annuities, and charitable remainder trusts.

On-Going Training

If Foundation assets continue to escalate, a full-time field man will be added to service constituents. Meanwhile, the staff continues training state and national leaders, alerting them to what the agency can do for people in their areas of influence.

Bill Evans explained, “Each year we take four state and national leaders to a week-long professional training seminar. So far, we’ve taken a dozen through the training. We spend about $2,500 per leader and consider it an investment in the future of Free Will Baptists. These trusted leaders help us get the message out, and their referrals are important.”

Ethics and Confidentiality

The Foundation operates on trust, professionalism, high ethics, and confidentiality. Constituents’ financial plans are treated as a sacred trust by the staff.

“At the Foundation, trusts are not just what we do,” said David Brown. “Trust is what and who we are.”

Foundation records are secured in a fire-proof vault and nothing disclosed about individual agreements without permission. Annual independent audits examine practices and procedures. Staffers make annual reports to delegates at the national convention, read professional journals, attend twice-annual industry meetings and employ professional money managers to determine investment opportunities.

No More Stealth

With such a big story to tell, the little agency that could may no longer be able to fly under the denominational radar.

Director Bill Evans declared, “I have about three years to go in my career, and I’m driven to see the FWB Foundation accepted without reservation across the denomination. It’s time we locked arms in trust on financial matters. I fully expect to reach that $50 million goal before I retire!”

For more information about the Free Will Baptist Foundation, visit the agency website or call (877) 336-7575.






©2005 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists