Tuesday, November 3. 2009
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From my personal experience in hiring for nonprofit corporations, it is my understanding that this practice is not only highly unethical but illegal in many or all cases.
A broad series of benchmarks - among which can be included hard fundraising goals, growth in fundraising, etc. - can be the basis of someone's compensation package (base or bonus or total compensation), but internal fundraisers (rather than outside consultants) are not allowed to take a piece of monies raised as their remuneration. I believe this is considered fraud since the monies were earmarked for a specific entity, not for staff compensation.
The laws may be different in Canada, though. However, this may be a distinction without a difference. legally, since Fr. George is being employed by and raising funds directly or indirectly for an entity incorporated in the United States and the State of New Jersey.
His name is Fr. Anthony.
(Editor's note: With all respect, Father, both the Archdiocesan website and the Metropolitan's letter of appointment refer to Fr. Gabriel as "Antony". )
#1.1 Fr. George Washburn on 2009-11-03 11:05
And the Antiochian Archdiocese is a New York corporation.
#1.2 Fr. George Washburn on 2009-11-03 11:07
If a predictable percentage of a development officer's time is dedicated to a specific program, then restricted gifts funding that program can be used to pay compensation.
For example, if a religious 501 (c) (3) operates a homeless shelter; and 30% of the development officer's time is directed specifically at raising money for that shelter; then restricted gifts intended to fund the shelter can also be used for the fundraiser's payroll and benefits on that percentage basis. Of course, if a gift is more narrowly restricted--to provide bedding or food, for example--then it cannot be used for payroll and related.
Personnel is usually the largest single expense for small businesses. I don't know whether or not assigning personnel expenses to specific programs or cost centers conforms to GATT, since I'm not an accountant. But I do know it is a common practice.
#1.3 morton on 2009-11-09 10:05
The AFP Ethics Committee very blunt about percentage based compensation: “Percentage-based compensation encourages abuses, imperils the integrity of the voluntary sector, and undermines the very philanthropic values on which it is based.”
I'm sure all the True Sons of Antioch are scratching their heads and muttering. "Uh.....what's the big deal?
#2 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-11-03 10:34
More like, "....I would'a done it for no less than 10%"
#2.1 Delegate #1 on 2009-11-03 19:14
"According to the presentation made to the Board of Trustees at their recent meeting in Houston, Fr. Gabriel is to receive 4% of the funds he raises."
Is this a solid fact? Because, if so, it is quite serious in my estimation.
I wonder if this can be verified in some way, since the ramifications of it amount to nothing less than fiscal misconduct.
I am signing my name, because I want to believe that our hierarchy would not act so irresponsibly as to put mercenary motives at the top of a fund-raising and planning department. I want so much to believe in the moral and fiscal integrity of our Archdiocesan leaders that I put myself on the spot by naming myself in this question. No anonymity for me!
I look forward with great eagerness and anticipation for how this will be vindicated by our hierarchs in a clear, rational, and holy way.
We clergy and laity await in hope for a good resolution of these serious matters.
(Editor's note: This has been confirmed by multiple sources from the meeting in Houston.)
#3 Fr Patrick B. OGrady on 2009-11-03 11:04
Thank you for your courage, Father. I wish more clergy would follow your example in this.
#3.1 Gabriel Stewart on 2009-11-04 02:23
And now that we have cleared up the obvious factual errors in Mr. Orr's rush into print, may I implitely ask just how his "personal experience in hiring for nonprofit corporations" qualifies him to make a sweeping generalization about what it is "illegal in many or all cases?"
Now I am open to being shown by Mr. Orr that I am dead wrong here, and he has the credentials to make (such as a law degree or legal research training) and actually done enough of a study of the legal requirements in the many and various jurisdictions of North America - two bodies of federal law and 60 odd states and provinces - to make pronouncements about what is illegal in even one of those jurisdictions, let alone many or all of them.
But if he doesn't have that training and experience and has not done the study, he ought to keep his hiring experience with non-profits to himself and stop talking through his hat.
#4 Fr. George Washburn on 2009-11-03 11:14
My experience is in consulting with major nonprofit corporations around the US in the employ of a publicly traded professional services company. Our global Nonprofit Practice was informed by corporate legal counsel that tying compensation to specific fundraising goals was illegal and unethical, at least in the US. We were informed of the same by many of our domestic clients and candidates; we were required to inform other clients and candidates of the same if they sought to directly tie compensation to revenue targets alone.
So, Fr. George, I am not stating this as legal fact, but merely providing industry corroboration to the article based on experience interviewing and hiring professionals involved in nonprofit fundraising (development) at the highest levels of their organizations.
Regardless of the practice's legality or illegality, the AFP guidelines clearly describe such a compensation structure as highly unethical; I'd be interested to see if Charity Navigator would approve of such a structure, too (can the AOCANA submit financials to this organization for certification? have they?).
I am sure the Antiochian Archdiocese, Economos Antony Gabriel (thank you for catching my typo - where did "Fr. George" come from?) and the others involved with the meeting referenced in the September 11, 2009 letter of appointment had no idea of the AFP guidelines or any pertinent legal statutes (state, federal or Canadian). Now that they have become aware of the same, I am sure they will remedy the situation appropriately given legal counsel and a review of the AFP guidelines.
**"Now that they have become aware of the same, I am sure they will remedy the situation appropriately."**
umh....did you just land on this planet with the rest of the cast from "V" ?
....Oh you will have to forgive me as my repeated shock over the past year has finally turned to cynicism.
#4.1.1 Delegate #1 on 2009-11-03 19:24
I have done some work in this field and was the director of development of a non-profit organization. My training came from The Center of Philanthropy at Indiana University in Indianapolis.
It is, in fact, an ethical violation to tie the compensation of a non-profit fundraiser to funds raised. This was stress to us many times in our training and it was made part of our commitment to donors when we solicited gifts for the non-profit. In fact, most fundraising activities have moved away from percentage compensation precisley because of ethical entanglements. The exception is political fundraising which still operates on percentage.
You can read more about this at the Center's website at http://www.philanthropy.iupui.edu/
I believe this is probably an honest oversight by the Archdiocese because the sad truth is our Orthodox world has little expereince with this kind of giving mentality. It probably never dawned on anyone in the discussion to even think about any ethical problems with the compensation package. And this is the very heart of the matter. We Orthodox should commit ourselves to educating ourselves about the principles and best practices that typify successful non-profit organizations and make sure that everything is done "decently and in order" rather than running the Church like a "mom and pop" five and dime.
Professional training, professional process, professional presentation is not antithetical to Orthodox spirituality. Rather it allows the beauty of our faith to avoid the tarnish of inuendo and suspition. Our Church deserves the best.
#4.2 Barnabas on 2009-11-03 15:01
This is excellently written and all points well made.
Anyone who is a professional solicitor for a non-profit must register with the State where they will be soliciting funds. If they do not register, they are in violation of the law. NYS is one such state that requires this registration. Would it be necessary for Fr. Gabriel to register with the State since he would be acting as a paid solicitor for the non-profit?
#4.2.1 Philippa Alan on 2009-11-03 20:15
In the spirit of accuracy, Ms. Skaff has always, as long as I've known and worked with her (going on 15+ years now), been known as Ruth Ann.
#5 Mickey Hodges on 2009-11-03 13:19
I came to the Holy Orthodox Faith as a convert over a decade ago. I came for one reason only: Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
I came from a church which had lost its way. What I sought was a home grounded in the joy of knowing the Lord and being with Him. My only desire was (and with trembling I say still is) to be close to Him, to rest in Him, and to exult in the love that He has freely given to me and to those I love (indeed also to those whom I don't love but should). The worship of the Orthodox Church is to me a fitting, enriching, awesome expression of my adoration of Him. It not only fulfills, but increases, my adoration. It is a personal and intimate way to respond to His love which I could never hope to devise on my own. All I could do was discover it and limp my way in; even that discovery for this small person took the help of others.
I sought the Lord and He heard me out of His holy mountain. I laid me down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.
As the old Protestant hymn says, How can I keep from singing?
After a decade in Orthodoxy I am fully aware of a number of things. One is, many of the children of Orthodoxy don't know what they have. Forgive me, at times I think this also includes our bishops and priests. When you enter the Promised Land after long exile in the wilderness, I think you necessarily have a different, possibly a more exalted, view of the Promised Land. Maybe after you're here for awhile you get complacent, but may God protect us from that.
There is an aspect of Orthodoxy which is very insular, and we all see it at times to various degrees. It's the "Our Club" aspect. Our Club has very little interest in carrying the crystal water of life to outsiders. Our Club becomes consumed with such things as programs and developments. It concentrates on the growth and protection of its treasuries. Sometimes it fixates on its cultural heritage. It throws grand banquets for the purpose of congratulating itself for the achievement of earthly things. Sometimes members make hurtful, nasty comments on sites such as this. Our Club can actually be a very cold and desolate place.
I just try to stay outside of the clubhouse. There's a cloud of witnesses outside, singing among verdant pastures and streams of living water. God is there and He is smiling. Outside the clubhouse is a great place to be. Make no mistake, outside the clubhouse is firmly inside the holy House of God.
I'm sometimes told by club members that I don't understand Orthodoxy. Maybe so, but as long as I have Jesus at my side, I'm willing to settle.
Definitely and unequivocally, the Club should be corrected and held to account, let's not let it cost us our faith.
Still withholding my last name because I don't want the club to persecute my good priest,
#6 Peter on 2009-11-03 13:31
The fact that you have to hide your name in order to protect your priest speaks volumes.
#6.1 Kevin Klein on 2009-11-03 19:51
It speaks volumes, in terms that he doesn't want people to know it's him. Believe me, the priest can handle himself fine. This was a selfish statement by Peter.
#6.1.1 William on 2009-11-04 07:53
And it speaks volumes when you still don't give your full name. Practice what you preach.
#188.8.131.52 Kevin Klein on 2009-11-04 19:44
no need because I'm protecting myself and I admit it.
#184.108.40.206.1 William on 2009-11-05 06:24
Well! William, who do you fear? This could be very enlightening. Please tell us.
#220.127.116.11.1.1 pelagiaeast on 2009-11-05 17:30
Well written, well said.
The truth hurts.
It hurts because the club mentality creates and maintains divides within the ONE CHURCH.
Christ came to remove the Dividing Wall between Jew and Gentile.
WE howeve, have been busy creating barriers and divides.
Oh, that we would be more like the Holy Patriarch Abraham who looked for a city whose builder and maker is God.
Do we think God really cares about our preoccupation with blood and soil religion.
Because they are false gods.
The good Lord does not care about nationality, color of skin, hair or pedigree.
Neither does he care about one's bank account.
It all came from him in the first place.
Lord, have mercy what a fine mess we have made of things, placing our culture or heritage above the HOLY GOSPEL.
#6.2 aonymous on 2009-11-05 08:41
“Worse, it allows people to question Metropolitan Philip’s commitment to ethical behavior.”
Since this whole debacle began with Metr. Philip's singlehanded attempt to demote our diocesan bishops, when has Metr. Philip demonstrated a commitment to ethical behavior?
Was it when he took the initiative on calling for an external, independent audit?
Was it when he affirmed the retired status of Bp. Demetri?
Was it when he disciplined the priests in Detroit?
Was it when he called for an audit of St. George, Troy?
Was it when he hired an outside professional to head up the latest planned giving initiative?
Was it when he offered to retire for the greater good of the Archdiocese?
Sic semper tyrannis,
#7 Nemo on 2009-11-03 14:20
Another Manufactured crisis from this website?
Is the AOCA or any other religious body a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals?? I don't think they allow"purley" religious church bodies in the organization ,only not for profit groups. Did you do any research on how other fundraisers are compensated in the Orthodox world, say the Greek Archiocese for example?
The AFP says bonus compensation is acceptable. I am sure whether you call it a bonus or a percentage, or a commision it will be paid from resources OUTSIDE of the contrbution.
Legacy donors to churches and the archdiocese should be encouraged in sharing their wealth and good bounty with charitable contributions, whether it is giving monetary donations to setting up large charitable trusts. These donations help build the legacy of the church for educating the children and building new churches. This is hard work for the fundraiser, such as Fr. Antony, and he should be encouraged to build the vineyard of Christ with all dilligence and transparency. He should also be compensated for his labor.
This is a noble mission and not many of us could be successful. A percentage of zero funds raised is zero. A bonus of zero funds raised is zero. Could we raise money for God's church? This is a nascent and tireless mission. I am sure it will be done decently and in order many eyes will be watching. Encouragement is needed, not skepticism and cynicism.
#7.1 Semper Fidelis on 2009-11-03 18:13
The AFP is a professional organization of INDIVIDUALS, not of INSTITUTIONS. Members can work for ANY not-for-profit, whether religious or secular, as long as (A) they are professionals (not volunteers) and (B) they subscribe to the AFP's code of ethics.
I cannot speak to other Orthodox institutions, but when I worked as a fundraiser for St Vladimir's Seminary, I and all my colleagues were paid fixed salaries.
There is a substantial difference between a percentage and a bonus. A bonus is an amount in addition to one's standard salary, usually given for exceptional performance or the exceeding of a set goal. The percentage such as the one described in the article is a fundraiser's ONLY compensation, and thus presents an enormous temptation to focus solely on larger gifts (to the detriment of the widow's mite) and even to cut ethical and procedural corners in order to secure larger gifts and thus larger paychecks. The fundraiser's sole goal should be to match donors' philanthropy with their organizations' missions; percentages and commissions introduce a separate personal agenda that can easily interfere with that goal.
No-one is saying Fr Gabriel should not be compensated for his work. But if he is to be compensated, and compensated fairly, why compensate him in a way that a premiere professional association has determined to be unethical? Why place him (or any fundraiser) in the way of temptation? Why set up a compensation system that encourages greed? And most importantly, as donors (especially wealthier donors) become more sophisticated and well-educated, why on earth set up a system that is so blatantly opposed to the minimum basic standards of secular non-profits and that will actually discourage giving?
Any fundraiser, whether secular or religious, will always grapple with the temptation to see donors and their gifts as the depersonalized means to an end, and eliminating percentage compensation is one way to minimize this temptation. Orthodox Christian fundraisers have an even greater responsibility, as we serve not simply an organization, but Jesus Christ himself. The basic rules of secular professional ethics are not something we can set aside because we work for the Church! NO! We must abide by ALL these rules -- every jot and tittle -- and then add to them a further commitment that every aspect of our fundraising should be for the growth in life and faith and spiritual understanding of everyone our work touches, whether donors, co-workers, or -- perhaps most especially -- those who look to us as models of Christian practice and behavior.
"For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:20)
#7.1.1 John Congdon on 2009-11-04 09:47
I do not think that membership in the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) is of importance. It is enough that (a) AFP sets the ethical standards for fundraisers and (b) our Church is to appear to conduct its affairs above reproach (various canons and verses in the Holy Scriptures). In other words, if the AFP says jump, we should say yes, sir and just how high? We certainly should not quibble, as if we are jailhouse lawyers, about membership in the AFP (yourself) or whether the currently reported arrangement is illegal (Father George W.)
In any case, here are two of the many ethical principles that govern fundraising, at least in the United States:
"21. Members shall not accept compensation or enter into a contract that is based on a percentage of contributions; nor shall members accept finder’s fees or contingent fees. Business members must refrain from receiving compensation from third parties derived from products or services for a client without disclosing that third-party compensation to the client (for example, volume rebates from vendors to business members).
22. Members may accept performance-based compensation, such as bonuses, provided such bonuses are in accord with prevailing practices within the members’ own organizations and are not based on a percentage of contributions."
For more information, please go to: "http://www.afpnet.org/Ethics/EnforcementDetail.cfm?ItemNumber=3261"
#7.1.2 Carl on 2009-11-04 12:28
It seems hasty to jump to conclusions about the intent of the 4% plan and call it unethical.
It might better be called stupid, or just poorly planned.
Why doesn't someone make a suggestion to the Metropolitan to change the plan to something more appropriate?
(editor's note: The AFP calls it unethical on the basis of their professional experience. It may, or may not be the Metropolitan was unaware of the problems of percentage compensation. We just don't know. But as you point out, now that he does your suggestion that the plan be changed to something more appropriate seems wise.)
#8 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-11-03 18:59
Since this whole debacle began with Metr. Philip's singlehanded attempt to demote our diocesan bishops, when has Metr. Philip demonstrated a commitment to ethical behavior?
What an unfair and outrageous question Nemo! Why he demonstrated this back on..? uh..well OK how about when he...? hmm oh wait I know he.......ahhh crap.
#9 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-11-03 21:06
Fr. Anthony [Gabriel] bears the dignity of Economos. We should perhaps recall the origins of that dignity. There are references to bishops’ stewards (oikonomoi) before the Holy Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, but we do well to recall the 26th Canon of Chalcedon:
Foreasmuch as we have heard that in certain churches the bishops manage the church business without stewards (oikonomoi), it seemed good that every church having a bishop shall also have a steward (oikonomos) from among its clergy, who shall manage the church business under the sanction of his own bishop; that so the administration of the church may not be without a witness; and that thus the goods of the church may not be squandered, nor reproach brought upon the priesthood; and if he [the bishop] will not do this, he shall be subjected to the divine canons.
It is thus, quite fitting that an Economos be placed in charge of the fund-raising arm of the Archdiocese. What is most unfortunate is that by setting up Fr. Anthony’s compensation as proportional share of funds raised, a practice which is unethical according to established norms for non-profit organizations, and, according to at least one poster with experience in the non-profit sector, is illegal, if not throughout the United States, at least in many jurisdictions, Metropolitan +Philip has assured that merely by accepting the post under those terms Fr. Anthony would bring reproach upon the priesthood.
Perhaps Fr. Anthony will have the good grace to live up to the dignity to which he has been raised, and see to it that the goods of the Church are not squandered nor reproach brought upon the priesthood either by declining to accept the post at all, or by insisting on a fixed salary. Of course, if he really takes the duties implicit in his dignity seriously, Fr. Anthony will join those of us who wish to have our beloved Archdiocese enjoy the benefits of sound, transparent financial management: as I have observed before, under modern circumstances, to fulfill the duties of a steward as set down in the 26th Canon of Chalcedon, an Economos would need a team of outside auditors.
So long as there is no independent audit, none of us, not the readers of this news service, not the Board of Trustees, not our Eparchal Holy Synod, not Economos Anthony, not Metropolitan +Philip, have any real idea whether the goods of the Church are being squandered, and the suspicion that they are is bringing reproach upon the priesthood.
#10 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-11-03 22:54
First, thanks to Mr. Orr for his gracious clarifying message. And to the other gentleman with some training in this field.
My original objection was to what struck me as Mr. Orr's hasty labeling of percentage compensation as illegal in most if not all places. It seemed to be a case in point of something we see here a lot: a partially informed, but on closer scrutiny actually unsupported generalization, that has the effect of distorting our discussion on a key point.
Mr. Orr does not in fact have any evidence to share with us that shows that percentage compensation for church fund raising is unlawful in any jurisdiction. I suggest that until somebody does come forward with the fruits of such research, that we regard his generalization about legality as completely unsupported. And to be perfectly clear, I express no opinion on whether or not such regulations are out there or not, but only that on present evidence (Mr. Orr's recollection of what his company tells him to tell clients based on an unnamed attorney's advice which we are not able to examine to see if it applies here) the generalization has no support worth relying on to accuse people of illegalities.
Ethics is a related but separate question. What is clear is that the AFP's internal definition of ethics for its members does not allow this kind of compensation. This body obviously seems to be seeking to establish itself as a standard bearer for best practices in its field. But we should pay careful attention to what I think the quoted standards are actually saying.
They are not saying that it is unethical for a fund raiser to be paid. Neither are they saying that it is morally wrong for the fund raiser to get compensated based on his/her success. If I read the language correctly they are saying, in effect, that experience has taught them that percentage compensation has encouraged some people to squeeze donors too hard, to put on too much pressure, and that they want their members to be insulated from such temptations.
So the standard in question is a private and self-imposed one to the effect that people who want to be at the top of their profession have voluntarily concluded will keep members from the temptation to harm or alienate donors. It is not something that automatically applies to Antioch.
And the AFP regulation is not a declaration of moral absolutes either. Our society recognizes the value of performance-based compensation in scads of situation, from baseball players who get more for reaching certain individual or team performance levels to tax professionals who get a share of what is retrieved for the client in savings over a faulty return that missed allowable deductions. I think what AFP is saying is more or less that "we don't think we can trust every Tom, Dick, Harry ... or George, Vito or Luigi ... to go out there raising money from people on a commission basis, and so, to avoid such problems altogether, we are not going to let any of our members do it." Membership organizations are constrained by the need to have one-size-fits all standards for all members. Met. Philip is hardly constrained to limit his dealings with Fr. Anthony to the same terms he would offer the newest seminary grad.
I tend to agree with someone who posted above and implied that the"news" piece that started this thread - and the new rounds of internet artillery fire that it sparks - may be a sort of modern witch hunting. And in such a climate perhaps we owe it to ourselves and others to imagine that we ourselves could make the same mistakes as the witch hunters of the past who turned out to be wrong.
I believe the fuzzy thinking and use of terms we are seeing here - hasty generalizations about illegality everywhere and conclusory references to ethical wrongs - are a form of witch-hunting. Now if the goal is to assassinate by adverse publicity or cause any possible damage to one's perceived opponents, then have at it if you must without the pretense of being arbiters of Christian values.
But I don't that is who we are or want to be here - at least not most of us. And so we ought to be vastly more slow to toss off accusations of illegality or ethical bankruptcy. Perhaps someone will find that NY or some other jurisdiction forbids this kind of compensation to a religious fund raiser. We will do well to wait until there is actual evidence, not somebody's general recollections or arguments by analogy from situations unlikely to be exactly on point.
In the end the product that we reach and the process by which we get there will be much more worthy of the Lord in whose name all of this is supposedly going on.
And by culling out unsupported claims and label-affixing it might leave us free to discuss what I think is the real issue at this time if there is to be any discussion: is it wise or does it look good at this particular time for Fr. Anthony to be given this kind of assignment and compensation structure? On that issue I am not expressing an opinion at this time.
(Editor's note: Thank you, as always, for a well-written commentary. I would only add that in point of fact the AFP does not say that percentage compensation is unethical only because it may " tempt" fundraisers - The AFP says it is unethical because it "imperils the integrity of the voluntary sector, and undermines the very philanthropic values on which it is based". )
#10.1 Fr. George Washburn on 2009-11-04 09:35
...payment of commissions to development staff, like payment of them to financial services professionals, can cause charities to lose the exemption afforded by the Philanthropy Protection Act of 1995. In that case, endowment, trust and annuity funds invested by the charity could be subject to regulation by the SEC. (Council for the Advancement and Support of Education [CASE] Statement on Commission-Based Fundraising)
I think this makes clear my point - and, again, not as a lawyer and not for a forum that requires hard 'proof' before one can share relevant professional experience, for whatever that may be worth.
"Illegal" need not necessarily mean "criminal". Percentage-based, commission compensation for nonprofit Development professionals can be "illegal" relative to the nonprofit exemption afforded them by US law. That is, their actions may not be not in keeping with their legal requirements to remain a US nonprofit entity, which actions "*can* [not will] cause charities to lose the exemption afforded by the Philanthropy Protection Act of 1995."
Of course, a lawyer would be better positioned to state whether the AOCANA is covered by this or a related Act. Others can then determine whether or not the AOCANA should be covered by it, i.e., whether nonprofit status is consistent with the AOCANA's mission and beliefs or whether the benefits of nonprofit status are 'worth' meeting these requirements.
I shared this information not to up the ante regarding how 'bad' and 'evil' Met. Philip is, but simply to corroborate, from a practical, professional perspective, that a compensation package for Fr. Antony structured as reported is at best unethical, and may, perhaps also be illegal in that it is not in keeping with the provisions of pertinent law (e.g., Philanthropy Protection Act of 1995). I share my perspective as an executive who has been involved in structuring and negotiating compensation packages for nonprofit Development professionals - without proper legal footnoting, it is true - so that the AOCANA can be assured that this is not simply an "unfounded Stokoe attack" that can be dismissed as meritless. Mr. Stokoe's article, and comments providing further perspectives from the AFP, CASE and the highly renowned Center of Philanthropy at Indiana University, would seem to corroborate my professional experience. I am sure the AOCANA was unaware of these standards, and I am sure upon further review the compensation package will be restructured appropriately as the Archdiocese's nonprofit status may otherwise be in jeopardy.
Would that Fr George test Metropolitan Philip's statements and assertions to the same degree he did those of Mr. Orr.
#10.1.2 An East Coast Priest on 2009-11-05 09:05
What a truly novel idea. Would that I live long enough to see it happen.
#10.1.2.1 Heracleides on 2009-11-06 10:54
To Mark Stokoe, et al:
Your contempt is delicious!
The Gabriels mixed it with a protein shake and enjoyed it for an early snack!
(Editor's note: I expressed no contempt for the Gabriel's, nor asserted they had done anything wrong. Try again.)
#11 Christa Breyer on 2009-11-04 09:45
Let's get it straight. The Community did not elect Fr Antony G. to "Economus". We all know it is an "honorary" title that he himself requested from the Metropolitan! He rec'd his gOLD MEDAL for services rendered as a leader of the inside club. My family was at Palm Desert Conv. and withessed his play on his "title" more than once. ...
Shame on all of it and our Met. knows the implications but does not care! Funds are slowing up to Englewood, as our Priest informed us last week.
#11.1 Anonymous (Can Am Diocese) on 2009-11-05 18:35
I don't know Fr. Antony from Adam. He has the title of Economos. It is a title of distinction that I hardly think was given to him without any thought or commentary by lay leaders of his community. Just as I try to give respect to the president of the United States, given the office that he holds, Fr. Antony deserves respect for the office and position that he holds.
This article and the accompanying posts read like a comedy of people trying to peek into their neighbor's house and come up with all kinds of stories about what their neighbors are doing. For the record, it is not illegal for a not-for-profit to pay a commission to someone who has assisted with fund raising. It is done all the time. I, myself, was on the board of a national not-for-profit that looked into engaging a firm to do exactly what Fr. Antony is charged with. We ultimately decided not to enter into such a contract because we found another source of funding, but for the record, it is not illegal as some have alleged. I would like to remark, however, as to why the not-for-profit I was associated with considered it in the first place.
Many not-for-profits have serious cash flow problems and ours was no different. By the end of each year it always looked like we were healthy and money always went to where it was supposed to. But there were also times throughout the year when the contributions would dwindle down to almost nothing and the organization was forced to draw from a line of credit. In order to try and break the cycle, we chose to examine whether or not it made sense to use an outside fund raising company. One of the biggest concerns we had was how to minimize the risk associated with trying to use the services of a fund raising company without causing us to go further into the red during the year because we had now taken on an additional expense. We interviewed several firms and we had narrowed the decision down to one firm that would do it on a contingency basis. Almost at the last hour, however, a very wealthy individual stepped forward and offered to establish an endowment for us.
My point in all of this is that it appears to be making a mountain out of a mole hill. I stand by the decision I made over 10 years ago when this issue came up that what we were trying to do was neither illegal nor unethical and I believe my fellow board members would feel the same way. I certainly hope that we can all agree that none of us knows all the facts in this particular case, and to continue to speculate and malign individuals that we do not know is both unkind and un-Christian.
(Editor's note: The story simply points out that the new AOCA department has adopted a standard of compensation that the AFP has determined is unethical - not illegal. That is not speculation, but fact. Is that maligning somebody? It would seem to me to that it is only maligning somebody if one attributed ill-will to that decision. No such attribution was made by the story. Indeed, it could all have been a mistake, or a choice. We just don't know at this time. But if the compensation agreement stands then we shall know that was indeed a conscious choice that the industry itself finds unethical. Are we not the Church, and are we not to have higher, rather than lower, standards than the world?)
#12 Anon. on 2009-11-04 10:38
Dear Anon: If the large organization you are talking about is a church, and I suspect based on what you are saying that it is, then the church members should have been giving/tithing, and there would have been no financial crisis that led to the mess it is in today. People are so addicted to judging without knowing and making mountains out of molehills just for the thrill, and who cares if someone gets hurt? This is what really gets me about the OCA so-called "scandal." It is SO hypocritical to call the "kettle" black when your own pot is too scummy and polluted to use. No wonder God lets those pots sit unused and unusable on the shelf, and employs everybody but church people to carry out love in the world... For what it's worth, I can see what you are saying. You are right.
#12.1 Anonymous on 2009-11-05 08:33
It's a sad day when one finally realizes that those who are supposedly the chosen of Christ Himself display similar moral and ethical behaviour of Bananna Republic strongmen.
It is an even sadder day when making the comparisons between them and our God Appointed Rulers ends up insulting the dignity of those gold braided President's for life.
Even those bad boys would not dare wear the crowns and gold threaded royal robes ours do while insisting they are the very spokesman and appointed one's of Christ himself. Even as they apparently (by their refusal to be finacially accountable) and unashamedly plunder His Vineyard.
Quite frankly the more they refuse to come clean and to give an honest accounting the more we can rightly infer they are concealing something because it is worth being hidden for their ongoing benefit.
Not even the most gullible among us believes for a moment the sham of an internal audit overseen by the Metropolitan's #1 Assistant is anything but a cynical attempt to stonewall and coverup the truth.
And now this! One of the inner circle gets to raise money for the Archdiocese in God only knows what innovative way and will be paid a handsome commission on what the faithful believe they are giving to the cause of Christ and His Church.
Bennie Hinn are you listening or does this even repulse you?
#13 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-11-04 11:17
GET OVER YOURSELF!!
There is a lot of hatred coming from Kirwan's posts. I find it offensive and demeaning. Why does the editor allow this person to pollute this blog with his bile? There is never any "snarky" comments after these rants. I guess you approve.
I do not find his posts constructive to the conversation. He has entirey too much time on his hands.
#13.1 Glad to be an Antiochian.. on 2009-11-04 15:46
In addition to the AFP Code of Ethics, it is worth noting the following from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE):
"*CASE Statement on Commission-Based Fundraising*
"In 1991, CASE's Commission on Educational Fundraising (now the Commission on Philanthropy) released a statement on commission-based compensation. In a memo that accompanied the statement, then-CASE President Peter McE. Buchanan wrote, "While our views may vary on the appropriateness of some forms of incentive compensation, there is a general consensus that the payment of commissions to fundraisers based on how much money they raise is not appropriate."
"Here is the commission's statement:
"CASE discourages commission-based compensation for all fundraising employees of member institutions. It is recommended that all fundraising staff work for a salary, retainer, or fee, not a commission. Compensation should be predetermined and not based on a percentage of funds raised.
"This recommendation is based on the following beliefs:
"1.Commissions will encourage inappropriate conduct by fundraisers anxious to secure gifts at any cost, whether or not those gifts meet the objectives of the institution they serve.
"2.Commission-driven fundraisers could potentially draw compensation well above an equitable level in relation to services rendered when, in the final analysis, it is the institution and not the fundraiser that both attracts and merits charitable support. [Note: "equitable compensation levels" are a key element of determining tax-exempt status.]
"3.Major gifts, which often require long-term cultivation, could be jeopardized by fundraisers seeking a swift donor response to benefit their own personal compensation goals.
"4.Gift support might be lost if potential major donors realize that a percentage of their donation will go directly to the fundraiser.
"5.Commission fundraising discourages the use of volunteers.
"6.Since charities do not know exactly what motivates a donor to make a gift, it is difficult to determine the amounts of compensation to which a fundraiser might be entitled under a commission/salary arrangement."
Also worth noting is the following excerpt from the National Council on Planned Giving's "Competence & Professionalism: Gift Planning Compensation":
"*Commission paid to a development officer or consultant.*
"Certain charities have paid commissions to the following persons.
"The development officer who solicits and closes a gift.
"The consultant who runs a fundraising campaign, especially a direct mail and telemarketing campaign.
"The telephone solicitor, often a student caller, who works part time in a charity’s telemarketing program.
"Payment of commissions to a development officer can lead to three unfortunate consequences. First, it encourages high-pressure solicitations. Out of eagerness to earn a commission, the development officer may rush the decision-making process, not encourage the donor to consult professional advisors, and fail to make full disclosure of all of the implications. Second, payment of commissions to one person in the development office is inherently unfair and destroys collegiality. Rarely does a gift result from the efforts of one person. The researcher who uncovered critical information about the prospect, the staff writer who drafted a proposal and the professor who inspired the prospect all played a role. Thus, why should the financial reward go solely to the out-front person? The behind-the-scenes people who also played a role are likely to feel resentment against their colleague who walks away with the commission. Third, payment of commissions to development staff, like payment of them to financial services professionals, can cause charities to lose the exemption afforded by the Philanthropy Protection Act of 1995. In that case, endowment, trust and annuity funds invested by the charity could be subject to regulation by the SEC.
"Payment of commissions to consultants has been sharply criticized when a high percentage of contributions are skimmed off for fundraising costs. In some cases where a small percentage of dollars raised was used for charitable purposes, the participating charity has lost its tax exemption. The incentives typically offered to paid student callers at colleges and universities have been of little concern, for compensation is generally low, and there seems little potential for abuse. These types of commissions are not specifically addressed in the Model Standards [of Practice for the Charitable Gift Planner -- the primary guide to ethics in estate planning], which are more concerned with planned gifts. It should be noted, however, that the 'Code of Ethical Principles' of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), which addresses all types of fundraising, says, 'Members shall work for a salary or fee, not percentage-based compensation or a commission.'"
Interestingly, the same article has the following to say about bonuses:
"The Model Standards do not pass judgment on bonuses per se. However, if the bonus paid to a staff member is a stated percentage of the dollars raised by that person, it appears to be one form of the commission-based fundraising that is considered “never appropriate” by the Model Standards."
The CASE article is online at http://www.case.org/Samples_Research_and_Tools/Principles_of_Practice/CASE_Statement_on_Commission-Based_Fundraising.html; the NCPG, at http://www.ncpg.org/ethics_standards/competence.asp?section=7
#14 John Congdon on 2009-11-04 13:50
Thank you for that. I found the passage
. . .payment of commissions to development staff, like payment of them to financial services professionals, can cause charities to lose the exemption afforded by the Philanthropy Protection Act of 1995. In that case, endowment, trust and annuity funds invested by the charity could be subject to regulation by the SEC.
It does not quite vindicate Christopher Orr's assertion that the practice of remunerating development officers by proportional commission is illegal, but it does show that for whatever class of charities are protected under the Philanthropy Protection Act of 1995 may not engage in the practice.
#14.1 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-11-04 17:40
A recently discovered variant reading of Second Corinthians 8:18-20:
"And we have sent with him the brother whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches, and not only that, but who was also chosen by the churches to travel with us with this gift, which is administered by us to the glory of the Lord Himself and to show your ready mind, avoiding this: that anyone should blame us in this lavish gift which is administered by us. In fact, Titus and I collect only the usual four percent, which is normal in organizations like ours."
#15 Father Patrick Reardon on 2009-11-04 15:12
Or this, of Deuteronomy: "Thou shalt muzzle the ox no more than 96% when he treadeth out the corn."
#15.1 Steve Knowlton on 2009-11-04 19:21
I am reminded of the old Protestant hymn which as I recall it is titled "All to Jesus (less my 4%), I surrender all."
#15.2 Max Higgs on 2009-11-04 19:28
Another quote from Corinthians (same section) suggests:
'Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men'
Certainly, an audit would be right in line with this quote on the matter as well. If Corinthians be quoted in one context, how it is that it not be quoted in another?
In a former debate, I got upset with the use/overuse of Scripture by Fr. Ted Bobosh (a man I truly admire greatly) because it is so easy to grab another bit of Scripture and say something completely different and it seemed like nonaction was always the result in a Scripture debate, if you will.
In this case, Corinthians supports the 4%, but it also would support audits, and from my observation point, you can't have it one way, if you won't have it the other.
And for a couple of the posters, sorry for spewing such vitriole.
#15.3 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-11-04 20:27
I think it's worth mentioning, Father, that St. Paul and Titus were blessed with discernment and would not have confused 3 documents they held in the their hands as being the same when one was on a different letterhead and the others contained different words with different meanings. I'm not accusing Father Antony of being stupid, but the alternative, i.e. that he was a perpetrator in defrauding the Archdiocese, is less palatable in light of his new assignment and compensation package.
#15.4 Gail Sheppard on 2009-11-07 14:44
"Money, money, money, mo-ney, MON-EY"
"Money, it's a gas.
Grap that cash with both hands
and make a stash."
"You cannot serve God and mammon."
Someone who helps willing donors with planned giving (estate planning, etc.) needs to be compensated for their work. To offer financial incentives of any kind for 'success' in that work speaks volumes about our lack of a sacramental understanding of giving. Why not compensate all our priests based on their financial value? Ethical, legal, or not the whole thing makes me sick. Money, money, money - is this how we measure 'success'?
Are we helping ourselves to be liberated from enslavement to wealth or confirming ourselves in our own enslavement? This may be the 'Orthodox Church', but it sure isn't the Orthodox Christianity lived or taught by those we claim to venerate.
#16 Brian Van Sickle on 2009-11-04 18:01
I understand the sacrament of giving. Might as well not even get paid to be at work then. Might as well not even pay our priests then. Might as well not even pay our bishops then. Might as well not pay anyone for anything. We should just give ourselves away to be christian is what i keep hearing from all this nonsense.
#16.1 William on 2009-11-05 14:25
*"Hypocrates"*....... the Philosopher or the boxed hippopotami??? lol
(Editor's note: Hypocrates was the brother of that other noted ancient Greek philosopher, Mediocrates, who is remembered for his immortal motto: " It's good enough")
#16.1.1 Delegate #1 on 2009-11-09 09:40
"Is outrage!" bellowed Church Overseas of Russian Orthodox Christians (COROC) spokesperson Father Vasiliy Vasileivich. "Did ninteenth century Russia Church raise rubbles for Holy Church at 4% interest to priest? No!"
Intended for a bit of levity, but still offering a dose of truth.
#16.2 Anonymous on 2009-11-11 02:55
Which of the canons does this arrangement violate? Whether some professional order of panhandlers has its "code" is not germane to the operation of the mundane functions of Holy Orthodoxy in financing its mission. The fundraising effort is clearly geared to the "gentry" among the flock of Antioch; which of them will not know of Fr. Anthony's compensation? Given the general current within the Antiochian Archdiocese in North America, it seems well nigh inconceivable that ANY potential donor would not concur with Metropolitan Philip's structuring of the effort. Does it not matter that this is openly disclosed? Once again in Orthodoxy a thousand Avvakums try to pose as Maximos.
#17 Jeff on 2009-11-04 19:24
Here are some Bible verses and canons that should answer your question (I do hope you don't mind me adding something from the Holy Scriptures).
Saint Paul wrote that "This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil." 1 Timothy 3:1-7. It goes without saying that this also appliers to priests. I draw your attention to the last verse. Saint Paul is here talking about the good opinion of the people outside the church, like AFP and CASE. Does it connect yet?
Saint Paul in Philippians 2:15: "that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world," I would think that perception and certainly the opinion of others are just as important as objective reality.
In both of these instances, everybody may be pure as the driven snow, but if they are perceived to be with fault, the jig is up. Finito. Kaput. End of discussion. You can scream from the mountain top or from your pulpit all day long; it does not matter. With this conclusion, I do not think that it would add anything to the discussion for me to dig up canons in support of Saint Paul. Unless, of course, you are still interested.
#17.1 Carl on 2009-11-05 08:37
"I would think that perception and certainly the opinion of others are just as important as objective reality."
Amen, Carl, and thank you. That truth should be printed at the top of the Archdiocesan stationery.
No policy of the Archdiocese---or even a single parish---should give scandal. There was something about millstones.
#17.1.1 Father Patrick Reardon on 2009-11-05 16:48
The Holy Writ you cite does not answer the question. I question your exegesis of the passage from I Timothy, and your quote from Phillipians is utterly misleading in that you omit verse 14, which in the RSV says "Do all things without grumbling or questioning...." Grumbling and questioning appears to be the hallmark of many commentators on this websight. But whether you are right or I am right in our understanding of Paul in this regard does not matter, because our personal understanding of scripture must give way to the understanding of the Church. The holdings of the Holy Ecumenical Councils, and those of various local and regional synods, as expressed in their canons, are a prime source of the Church's understanding of Holy Writ. So, we are back to my question: Which of the canons forbids the North American Archdiocese of the Church of Antioch from compensating a fundraiser with a percentage of the funds raised? Or does one of the Fathers condemn the practice? I genuinely do not know. I can only observe that if the criterion for action or inaction in any matter on the part the Church is whether it is pleasing to those outside, then the Church's will soon find its witness reduced to nothing. We have been displeasing to outsiders (and rightly so) since the reign of Tiberius.
The bigger issue here, or at least it seems so to me, is that an unrelenting protestant juridicalism has infected Orthodox discourse to the point that people are brawling for brawling's sake. We are become as the sanctimonious, self-satisfied Archpriest Avvakum, willing to rend the Seamless Garment because in our spiritual self-deception we think we are "right" when in reality we are only scoring debaters' points.
If I offend by these remarks, please accept my apologies; I mean no one ill by them. Please pray for all.
#17.1.2 Jeff on 2009-11-05 19:30
It's interesting you should bring up canons. It's the lack of following them that got us in this mess in the first place.
Regarding the canons on this issue, you are simply arguing from silence. Of course there are no canons, as the modern practice of fund raising as we know it had no equivalent in the Roman Empire. There, the Church received funds from the State, who received the funds via taxes.
While I am a strong believer that we should look to the canons for guidance and correction, I believe you are mistaken in your argument here. The canons are silent, but that proves nothing.
#18.104.22.168 An East Coast Priest on 2009-11-06 13:51
How about Apostolic Canon VI?: "Canon VI. Let not a bishop, presbyter, or deacon, undertake worldly business; otherwise let him be deposed." The argument here is not clear cut as the beneficiaries of this effort will be the Archdiocese and Father Gabriel. However, the more successful that he is, the more money that he will make and this aspect is indeed worldly business. It would also be worldly business if he were to get any contribution as a tax deduction or dodge. I suppose the only instance that Father Gabriel would not have to worry about this canon would be if he failed at his job.
Also, Canon 12 of the Council in Trullo, where the reason for the caonon is said to be "For the divine Apostle says: “Do all to the glory of God, give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Greeks, nor to the Church of God, even as I please all men in all things..." The canon told married bishops and their wives to live separately not because of Scriptural reasons but because people were scandalized over their conduct and because it is the obligation of the Church and its members not to give offense to anybody, in and out of the Church.
I am not going to go any further with canons, You have got to realize that Canons are the practical applications of the Scriptures and Apostolic Tradition and are crafted only when a problem surfaces. They are not meant to replace but to supplement. So, when you insist on canonical condemnation of a practice that did not exist in the Church until the last century or so, you commit a basic error of overlooking the principle for want of a precise regulation of canon. Or overlooking the Constitution because an implementing law has yet to be written. You simply cannot do this as a Christian; may be as a lawyer defending a client, but not as a Christian IMHO.
#22.214.171.124 Carl on 2009-11-06 17:06
the operation of the mundane functions of Holy Orthodoxy in financing its mission
Ah yes — the ancient tradition of our Holy Faith under attack by modernists. Give me a break! Carl’s citations from scripture should be sufficient — but why would you imagine that the canons would address such an issue as the compensation of professional fundraisers? The very idea is absurd. What canons forbid, say, insider trading?
I have always argued for the prerogatives of the Church and proper adherence to canon law. Explain why it is natural to “Holy Orthodoxy” to pay percentage-based compensation to fundraisers, or how it is that the standards cited are alien to the ethos of the Church. An action does not become just or proper — or holy, despite the holiness of the Orthodox faith — simply because it is undertaken in the name of the Church by one of her leaders. An episcopal mitre is not an ethical carte blanche.
If you must have an extra-scriptural witness, take note of the Letter to Diognetus, from which we learn so much of the lives of our ancient forbearers in the faith:
“For Christians cannot be distinguished from the rest of the human race by country or language or customs. They do not live in cities of their own; they do not use a peculiar form of speech; they do not follow an eccentric manner of life. … Yet, although they live in Greek and barbarian cities alike, as each man’s lot has been cast, and follow the customs of the country in clothing and food and other matters of daily living, at the same time they give proof of the remarkable and admittedly extraordinary constitution of their own commonwealth. They live in their own countries, but only as aliens. They have a share in everything as citizens, and endure everything as foreigners. Every foreign land is their fatherland, and yet for them every fatherland is a foreign land. … They busy themselves on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. They obey the established laws, but in their own lives they go far beyond what the laws require.”
[ http://tinyurl.com/ybdbupp ]
#17.2 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-11-06 02:49
Quod erat demonstrandum. Again, which canon forbids this? To my knowledge, none does, although I stand to be corrected. Does Holy Orthodoxy demand fundraising on a commission basis? Nope. It is not my place to justify this particular action. I just want to know where the canons condemn it. The scriptures cited palpably do not, nor does an untortured reading of the Letter to Diognetus. I just cannot see why in the world, of all the possible fights to pick, this one is picked. One might well suspect that the objection arises from the fact that Metropolitan Philip authorized the plan. If that is the case, then once again we are afflicted with the unquenchable passion to find wrong in the absence of harm. Not only are there passages about millstones, there might be one or two about beams and motes.
I do not begrudge you for disagreeing with my argument or avoiding its merits with inapposite quotations or just simply misunderstanding it, but I must say I object to its mischaracterization. I do not appeal to the canons because of some anti-modernist bent. Think of the irony: +Philip, noted despiser of beards and cassocks, defended by an anti-modernist! The canons are timeless, a gift to every generation till the end of the age. Whatever else they are, or are not, they are objectively the law of the Church, something that S.E.C. rulings and a professional society's rules are not, however salutary they might be. So do the canons speak to "insider trading" or securities fraud or the marketplace in general? I do not believe that they do, but that fact urges caution, not license, when we find an Orthodox "ethos" in outsiders' standards.
#17.2.1 Jeff on 2009-11-06 20:23
My apologies for misunderstanding your motivations for posting. I ought not to have guessed at them in the first place. Hopefully this will be more useful:
• My first point is that your question is irrelevant.
Christians are supposed to be above reproach by outsiders. It is traditional for Christians to act in accordance with the norms of the society in which they live, where those do not contradict the faith. It is also traditional for Christians to go even beyond the requirements of civil law in their righteousness.
In light of these considerations, as a group and even singularly, it is irrelevant that no canon forbids Church fundraisers to be compensated with a percentage of funds raised.
• My second point is that your question is trivial:
Of course there is no such canon. The canons were written at a time before this question existed.
#126.96.36.199 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-11-08 06:29
Also, as to why this decision was important enough to appear here:
Though it is improper in itself for the reasons I've given, were nothing else at issue in Antioch, it likely would not have been written about here. However, it bears directly on issues of greater significance in the Archdiocese. For example: Are our financial affairs in good order? Is the benefit of the Church the controlling criterion for the Archdiocese's financial arrangements? Are related decision-making processes lawful, adequate, and actually functioning?
#188.8.131.52 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-11-08 07:04
As regards the legality of fund-raiser commissions, the Philanthropy Protection Act of 1995 can be read in its entirety at
The commentary on the text of that Federal law provided at the site states
The Philanthropy Protection Act of 1995 prohibits the payment of commissions or remuneration to anyone based on the value of a charitable gift annuity given to a public charity (unless the charity AND each member of its development/sales staff is willing to be licensed under the S.E.C. securities sales regulations).
It appears, however (and a lawyer, we do have lawyers reading and posting here don't we?) should verify this, that it places that requirement only in the case of certain types of giving, including giving to the general endowment fund of a charity and charitable remainder trusts (to mention, but two of the five list).
Thus, should Economos Gabriel accept the reported terms of service as our Archdiocesan development officer, he will be unable to solicit donations of the sort the law covers unless he and the Archdiocese and the rest of his staff get SEC licenses. Meaning, I suppose that he can legally take a commission on donations that do not fall into any of the five statutory categories.
Another poster quoted the saying of Our Lord most relevant to the matter: "You cannot serve both God and mammon." It is sad that the secular Association of Fundraising Professionals has managed to implement a corollary of this dictum in their prohibition on commission-based charitable fundraising, while our Metropolitan proposes, through this compensation scheme to place Economos Anthony in a position where his fundraising necessarily mixes service of God and mammon.
Again, I appeal to Economos Anthony to fulfill the office of an Economos, rather than merely enjoying the dignity thereof: decline the commission-based composition scheme, so that "reproach may not be brought on the priesthood" and join those of us who would like our Archdiocese to enjoy the benefits of financial transparency, "that the goods of the Church not be squandered." (cf. the 26th Canon of the Holy Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon.)
#18 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-11-05 09:07
Subdeacon David asks for lawyerly input on the Philanthropy Protection Act. Here is exactly $.02 worth at prevailing rates. But since CA real property law was my focus, and not philanthropy or securities, I may be guilty of overvaluing a bit.
My very quick skim of one online resource on the PPA led me to the extremely preliminary guess (am I being cautionary enough?) that what that part of the law is primarily meant to do is prevent people from selling the equivalent of securities (in the form of annnuities to be paid by charitable organizations) to the public on commission without securities licenses.
Subd. David seems most convinced that being paid by commission, as opposed to a flat salary, would ipso facto embroil the person paid with the service of mammon instead of God. I did not see any reasoning to support this belief. My reading of the Bible is that the service of mammon as opposed to God arises when a person loves remuneration and does what he does for the gain, and not the God.
#18.1 Fr George Washburn on 2009-11-05 22:36
Yes, I think that compensating church fund raising on an commission basis necessarily entangles service to God with service of mammon: Can one paid on such a basis really be free from the temptation to put the hard sell on a potential donor to give more, not for the glory of God, but for the 4%? Will not the demons constantly be whispering little multiplication problems "$1,000,000 x .04 = $40,000", "$300,000 x .04 = $12,000",. . . in the ear of the "development officer"? Why should a Metropolitan Archbishop, if he is a true Father in Christ, deliberately lay one of his clergy open to such temptations?
#18.1.1 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-11-07 19:36
It looks bad. If Mr. Kirwan prefers, it smells bad.
The reason that percentage-based compensation is so effective is that it aligns the interests of the interests of the professional with the interests of the client.
In short, it works because people like money. A lot. Not that there's anything wrong with making a living; or, indeed, making a living in accordance with the prevailing standards of our world.
But this mechanism should not ever be required where the service of the Church is concerned. What does it say that our plan for getting an honored senior priest to do his best work is to line his pockets in direct proportion to his success? Intended or not, is that a message it's acceptable to send?
This assumes (as you propose) Fr. Antony has separate motives that prevent the disjunction of interests that normally exists when percentage-based compensation is used in fundraising. Let's go further and assume that he isn't going to be influenced by money in any event.
Still, isn't it going to occur to people, when Fr. Antony — or anyone in his situation — is across the table from them, laying out especially grand visions, that he might be motivated by the money? Aren't big fish going to wonder if he is catering to them at the expense of building a broad foundation of smaller donors? And aren't smaller donors always going to wonder if they might get more attention if they were offering a bigger "tip"?
What many here find unethical in itself is the Metropolitan's hiring of Fr. Antony under this arrangement — which is potentially disadvantageous to the Church but certainly advantageous to his close friend and "ally." And then there is the fact Fr. Antony is under suspicion of tampering with the decision of the Holy Synod in Damascus — a pretty big risk that, one imagines, would merit a pretty big reward. That accusation, true or false, has not been addressed, much less refuted — though Met. Philip made sure to let the convention know that no one in his office in Englewood committed any forgery.
At best, then, the metropolitan's decision looks like carelessness combined with blinding personal loyalty. At worst, it looks like simple cronyism.
I think this, rather than a witch-hunt mentality, accounts for most of the harshness we are seeing here, and that the two issues — of Fr. Antony's hiring and of his actual working — are being conflated in people's comments. In any event, I certainly agree with you that the facts must be kept straight.
#18.1.2 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-11-08 12:02
You are talking out of your .......
Hey David Yetter (are you related to the famous Bubble Boy?). First of all, spell the name correctly, it is Antony (like the desert saint). The office of Fr. Antony does not set up investments ; annuities or mutual funds or stocks or bonds. He is not an investment officer, has nothing to do with asset allocation, estate planning, wealth management, etc. The SEC is not involved, sub-Deacon.
By the way, Fr. George Washburn, you are a wise man who makes sense. Thanks for your input in this matter. Your writing is "fair and balanced".
#18.2 Semper Fidelis on 2009-11-07 13:03
If I ever meet the good Economos, i will certainly beg forgiveness for the offense of having assumed that he used the same Englishing of his heavenly patron's name that I am accustomed to, rather than checking the Archdiocesan website to see that he omits the 'h'.
As to the appropriateness of SEC oversight, i think you should take the matter up with the Congress of the United States which wrote the Philanthropy Protection Act of 1995. I provided readers of this news service with a link to the full text of the law. You do not seem to have read it, and it may not have the import that it seems to me to have (my not being a lawyer), but it none of that activities it subjects to SEC oversight if the fundraiser is paid on commission are "set[ting] up investments ; annuities or mutual funds or stocks or bonds", except in as much as charitiable remainder trusts involve an annuity and may thus be seen as a sort of investment. Do you know for a fact that Fr. Antony's office does not set up charitable remainder trusts for the benefit of the Archdiocese (and the donor)? I certainly don't (gee, another downside to not having an audit, but I digress.)
I explicitly appealed for a lawyerly reading of the law, and pointed out that fund raising not of the types enumerated would not subject the Archdiocese to SEC regulation, before considering the spiritual downside to which the arrangement would subject Fr. Antony.
Incidentally, if as your screen name might suggest, you served or serve in the United States Marines, as a citizen of the United States, I thank you for your service.
#18.2.1 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-11-07 20:02
Ordinarily I do not post a second reply to missives addressed to me in a scornful tone on these boards (often I do not even reply once), but it occurred to me that a Google search for the phrases "charitable remainder trust" and "Antiochian Archdiocese" might be instructive.
You will find that the Dec. 2005 edition of The Word contains an article advocating contacting the Archdiocesan Department of Development in the matter of setting up charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts and other structured donations. While it may be the case that the Archdiocese has in some way arranged to insulate itself from the possibility of falling under SEC regulation, your sneering at the notion that the Philanthropy Protection Act of 1995 might potentially subject Fr. Antony's activities to SEC regulation if he is paid on commission seems to be ill-founded.
#18.2.2 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-11-09 14:22
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and, unfortunately, so is ugliness. You people will see ugliness in anything you want to, because it is in you. It is drawn on the back of your eyeballs. It is a filter through which you see your world. Moreover it is a selective filter that you apply to those you already hate, namely, the Gabriels. There is nothing they, nor anyone, can say or do that would change your position. So what is the point of all this?
There are countless scriptural references that would argue strongly against your point, your conduct and your position, but to include them here would be an exercise in futility, for you would only twist them again in order to prolong the discord.
You, who are dividers, you revel in division and discord. You do the devil’s work.
(editor's note: I am sorry you see a call to ethical standards "divisive" and causing "discord". Rather than dismiss, offer up an alternative, that is, show how a percentage based compensation does not lead to the problems the AFP, and others, assert from their long experience. If you cannot, then ask yourself cannot we, the Church, do as least as well as those outside it? If we cannot, or do not care to even try, then are we not the saddest of creatures?)
#19 Frank Marino on 2009-11-05 09:37
Do you not perhaps think that the Church of Jesus Christ should hold itself to a higher standard than the 'public charities' of this world?
I can see some extra compensation for a priest fulfilling demands of his superiors beyond his normal parish ministry, but this thing actually makes me feel squeamish!
#19.1 Rdr. James Morgan on 2009-11-05 15:14
It all has to do with the love of money. And, any semblance of evil must be avoided especially at an archdiocese level where concerns about possible graft is causing much speculation. I would think that MP would be wiser that to pull this one off.
#19.1.1 Glad to not be Antiochian on 2009-11-07 16:44
QUESTIONS ON COMPENSATION??
Yes, I am sure the brain trust at the AOCA will take all of your points under consideration regarding the AFP guidlelines.
By the way, since you are the self appointed arbiter of all things monetarily ethical in the Orthodox realm why don't you focus your laser beam on other Orthodox jurisdictions to see if they are in compliance? Why stop with the OCA and the AOCA , go national, go global. See how they do fundraising in the "traditional" Orthodox countries. Did fundraising in the church exist before AFP guidelines?
Regarding ethical standards ,and in the spirit of full disclosure and transparency, how do you get paid? Lets guess that you are in the real estate business. Are you compensated on a percentage of your sale or on a commission?
How does the insurance salesman who posts on this blog get compensated, could it also be percentage based or a commission? Could this be an area of ethical conflict for "true" believers such as yourself? Does this type of payout morally corrupt you? I believe you hold yourself up to higher standards. A quote: "if we don't try, then are we not the saddest of creatures?" That sounds rather dramatic.
Even though you are not a member of the AFP, neither are the different archdioceses. And guess what, we still function as honorably and honestly in most instances. You make some valid points but it seems like a double standard , but who is to argue.
(editor's note: Actually, I don't get paid on commission, but by the job, as I am in real estate marketing, not sales. I have no problem with percentage based commission in the commercial world, though. It is highly effective. But I do, for the reasons the AFP and CASE point out, object to it in the non-profit world. I would hate to have to concede the point to unbelievers that yes, the Church is no different than any other business, and is just another commercial enterprise. I do not believe it is, but arrangements like this certainly evidence the contrary. We can, and must, do better.)
#19.2 anon on 2009-11-05 18:29
What you're reading isn't ugliness; it's frustration. I didn't even know who the Gabriels were until Father Antony's wife wrote on this list. She assured us that nothing was amiss, but then acknowledged that her husband took the documents to a friend's house to be faxed in the middle of the night. I found that a bit odd. I happened to see the documents the moment they were posted. I don't read Arabic, but even I could tell there were some striking differences. One of the fax dates was November of 2005. One of the 3 documents was on English letterhead. One of them had words and numbers that weren't on the others. The signatures looked different to me and and the characters didn't match. If someone like me who has only been in the Church a few short years can see things like this at a glance, how is it possible that His Beatitude missed them? If by some fluke this escaped his notice, why didn't Father Antony see it? If he missed it, why didn't Metropolitan Philip see it? It's perplexing.
Nobody hates the Gabriels, but we are very concerned. The "filter" you see is fear and shell shock. At least on my part it is. I have personally gone through a horrendous ordeal with Metropolitan Philip and frankly, I will never be able to recover the innocense I had coming into the Church. This experience has truly changed me.
No one is reveling in discord. Whether it's the law or not, doing things according to best business practices seems to make the most sense. If we were to follow these guidelines, it would go a long way to heal the division in the Archdiocese. Given everything we've been through, it's hard to understand why our Archdiocese would resist this.
If we were doing "the devil's work," we would be the ones trying to deceive and cover our tracks. We're not doing that, Frank. We love the Church as much as you do. We're want to right the wrongs of the past so we can move forward. We're frustrated because what seems obvious to us, i.e. to do things by the book, isn't being embraced by the powers-that-be. We want to safeguard the Church, not tear it down.
#19.3 Gail Sheppard on 2009-11-06 11:44
You speak of ethical standards, Mr. Stokoe, but whose standards are they? The Church? No, something secular called the AFP. That's who you rely on for your inspiration. Tell me, do you worship at the altar of the AFP, or of God?
This response from you is precisely indicative of your priorities. Listen to yourself: "...percentage-based compensation...", "...problems the AFP, and others assert...". Your interest is placed in money-matters, and your trust is placed in the judgments of secular outsiders. Your interest should be placed in building up your Church and your trust should be placed in God.
Tell me, have you questioned or "investigated" the motivations of these outsiders even a fraction of what you have against those inside? I don't see any of that on your Website. No, to them you give the immediate benefit of the doubt, because it suits your argument.
But what about when it comes to your real brothers? Or to your own Bishops or Priests? All you look for is the bad, the bad, the bad. They must be bad. They will be bad. They will "secretly" build for themselves. You will "expose" it. You seek out evil before it even happens and assume it must. Because you hate them. There's nothing that will make you not hate them. But you can't admit that, at least not publicly, now can you? That wouldn't look so good on the page, or on your reputation. Oh, no doubt you will pronounce loudly that you do not... that you're "only doing this", or "only doing that", all for the "good of the Church". But you should just admit it and be done with it. Don't start out your messages to me with patently false platitudes like, "I'm sorry you see...". You're not remotely sorry. You make much of your custodianship of integrity and honesty. Have the courage to let your speech demonstrate it.
And you would seek to draw me and others into the game by asking us to offer up "alternatives", so that the game might continue.
You want alternatives? I'll give you one in particular:
"But instead, one brother goes to law against another—and this in front of unbelievers!
The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers." (Corinthians)
That's an alternative, though I'm quite certain you scoff at it.
And now I'll ask you to offer up an alternative, and it requires no response but should be food-for-thought, particularly to you... What alternate method can you use on your site to promote actual brotherhood and refute division, speculation, gossip, slander and suspicion? You might want to think about that one a bit and, while you're deep in repose over it, think about who might ask you that question.
In closing, I will leave you with this one question, derived from a totally hypothetical scenario. Please answer it. Assuming that you are right about your suspicions of impropriety, and that seemingly trusted officials and individuals actually do the worst and abuse their position, stealing or profiting for themselves, is that a greater or lesser evil than the division you constantly foment here at this site?
Don't go off on a tangent now, just to obfuscate... just choose, and answer. In your own personal opinion, greater or lesser?
One word will suffice.
(Editor's note: Greater. Divisions can be healed by the Gospel; but if you corrupt the Gospel through hypocrisy, for example, what will save you? And for the record, I have accused no one of impropriety. I simply reported that the AFP says it is unethical.)
#20 Frank Marino on 2009-11-05 15:01
And this is the obfuscation I mentioned, Mr. Stokoe, when you answer a question by making it seem as if the question was about something else. I did not ask if possible improper financial conduct by trusted officials was a greater or lesser evil than division itself or, for that matter, a divided house... You will recall that I asked if it was a greater or lesser evil than division fomented or caused by an individual, namely, yourself. And that's quite another matter, isn't it?
Certainly the Gospel can and will heal division itself. That should be well-known to every Christian. The Gospel will, in fact, even heal death, the ultimate divider and destroyer. It's designed for just that purpose... to eradicate any former division mankind had subjected himself to with respect to God, by his intransigence and rebellion. It's about reconciliation, isn't it?
But to claim that engaging in the act of dividing is a lesser evil, simply because the Gospel has the power to heal it is like justifying shooting someone because doctors can remove the bullets, or poisoning someone because there's medicine available for just such an infection.
The ends do not justify the means, Mr. Stokoe, especially since I am not simply speaking of secular things, but of spiritual matters.
You then say, quite correctly, "but if you corrupt the Gospel through hypocrisy, for example, what will save you?". And I wholly agree with that. But this begs the question that asks to define "corruption" of the Gospel, as well as "hypocrisy" and even the heart of the Gospel itself. Certainly it is evident that the hypothetical hypocrites of my narrative would be corrupting the Gospel, if they acted as I outlined. But is corruption of the Gospel limited to that? Is not also corruption of the Gospel anything that subverts it's core message, especially if the subversion is so deft as to appear that it is all done with good intentions? What is the core of the Gospel? It isn't simply a historical narrative, nor a book of Laws or arbitrary Commands. Again, what is the "heart of the Law?". Is it not mercy?
Does not the Gospel compel us towards such things as unity, love, understanding, forebearance, mercy, kindness, patience and, above all, forgiveness of sins? Through Grace is this not precisely how it does save you? And, in so doing, the opposites of those virtues, if practiced, enabled or adhered to, become truly a corruption of the Gospel, and not only of it's appearance to men but of it's very core. And therein lies a truly malignant form of hypocrisy, when any perpetrator of such things does so without care or even the least acknowledgment. In your zealous quest to defend the Gospel's principle of honesty, you have neglected the rest.
Once again I implore you and all here to, at the very least, take equal note of the tone, implied accusation and suspicion that goes on here as you do of the little details regarding what you call unethical behaviour on the part of certain members of the heirarchy. True Christianity is about honesty, it is true, but it's not only about that. No one has a monopoly on virtue, not the top brass nor myself nor you. And no one has even a modicum of righteousness before God, nor any reason to boast, even inwardly in their own thoughts. You were not appointed nor elected.
The motivation behind my arguments here have not actually been for the express purpose of defending persons, nor Priests nor Bishops nor even the Church, though it may seem so. If men sin and profit, whomever they may be, they have their reward... it's not up to me to judge them, and even less to simply suspect them. If actions become evident, I will make an inward determination, though not a vocal judgment. But for the moment all there is is crude speculation about these things, and it is being "sold" here as "evidence".
But the negative conduct to which I have adressed my comments is not simply suspect here, or yet to appear, but is clearly evident and present in many letters. You can say what you want about the motivation, the frustration or the misunderstandings, or whatever, but you can not say that these divisive positions are not, in fact, taking place... right here, right now.
And it is this very evident reality that prompted me to write in the first place. My position is based on the principle that it is all too easy to think you are doing good when you are quite possibly not. And that is the most dangerous form of hypocrisy. The hypocritical Priests who delivered up the Lord really did think He was a fraud and a charlatan, perverting Judaism. It's not like they knew the truth yet chose to "kill God anyway", as absurd as that sounds. Hence, "Forgive them Father, for they 'know not what they do'."
When I asked the question about the greater or lesser evil, I confess to having asked a loaded question. Because the correct answer is neither greater nor lesser. They are equal because they are sin, which is error. They are equal in error, and in serving the spirit of error. But in your haste to justify what goes on here you could not, in all likelihood, condemn your own product, but needed to make it righteous. Hence you said they were not equal, and willingly gave the greater sin to your perceived adversary, and none to yourself.
You might want to think about what that means.
(Editor's note: Clever sophistry, and as meaningful, for it masquerades as serious thought, but has none of the power thereof. You ask a self-admitted loaded question, demanding a one word answer, and then berate your victim when he does what you ask. Shame on you. You performance is not equal to the standards you require of others - and you might like to think about what that means. Until then, we will disagree.)
#20.1 Frank Marino on 2009-11-06 20:03
I hope I am not duplicating anything anyone else has posted, but I wonder how relevant this document is to the situation in the Archdiocese:
It appears to be compiled by the Office of the Attorney General in New York. I found page 11 very interesting, regarding independent CPA's auditing any New York nonprofit which receives at least $250,000.00 in funds.
#21 Brian Jackson on 2009-11-05 18:27
Alas, charities incorporated under religious corporation law or with a religious purpose are exempt from registering with the New York Attorney General's Charities Bureau, and are thus not covered under the requirements you cite.
#21.1 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-11-07 20:47
Fr. George gives us a perfectly rational explanation in his lengthy
letter and among other things, says the following.
"Mr. Orr does not in fact have any evidence to share with us that shows that percentage compensation for church fund raising is unlawful in any jurisdiction."
Well then dandy! It ain't illegal. It stinks, it's stench would gag any number of Protestant huscksters raising money for their little kingdoms, but hey, it ain't illegal.
This is the ethical standard of our God Protected Archdiocese Fr. George? Should I provide a list of sinful acts that are not illegal and then argue their validity?
The arguments given against this commissioned based compensation for Fr. Antony have been presented with great care and clearly demonstrate the absurdity and ethical (though legal) problems inherent in such fundraising.
Glad, and eternally grateful to be Orthodox but increasingly embarrased by the ruling hierarchy of this God Protected but seemingly not God hearing and for that matter not God fearing Archdiocese.
#22 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-11-05 19:10
Dear Mr. Kirwan:
In this kind of heated debate that seems to arise when Sincerely Religious People who are used to believing that the little voice in their head is God talking suddently find themselves at odds with other Sincerely Religious People who are used to imagining the very same thing about the voices in their heads that are telling them the opposite view, I was trying (admittedly against the tide of sneering with which you so often comment), to write with a voice of calm and reason, and to gently but firmly pick off one false allegation - the claim that commission-based compensation for fund-raising is illegal everywhere or virtually everywhere - so that the debate might go forward, if it must, with more light ... and less heat. You now do your best to reverse that equation.
The use of the terms ethical and unethical is a more difficult matter to parse out. Should the same ethical reasoning that AFP applies to its members who are engaged in all forms of solicitation across the entire country in all venues imaginable apply to a single fund raiser who has been the Metropolitan's close friend and ally for more than 40 years, and who will be working with a single constituency that His Eminence will no doubt wish to see conserved for posterity, not ripped off for short term gains? That is not susceptible to quite as glib and simplistic an analysis as you offer, although in the end maybe we would have to conclude it isn't a good idea in the Archdiocese either at this time.
When a person (i.e. you) just comes out of his corner roaring with words like stink and stench and whatever other emotive words the voice in your head told you to use, however, it doesn't foster the kind of careful definition and discussion that such potentially loaded terms require if we are to truly understand the issues and one another. Believe me, young man, you detract from this debate far, far more than you add, and all the more sadly so because you seemingly have no idea you are doing it.
Lawyers in our society routinely earn contingent fees of anywhere from 20-40% - and sometimes higher for tougher cases, appeals, etc. A real estate broker earns (and typically shares with other agents/brokers) fees in the 4%-10% range depending on whether or not it is a home, commercial property, or raw land. Same more or less with finders' fees. Stockbrokers and many others earn commissions in percentages of which I am unaware.
Now these forms of compensation no doubt have their arguable flaws, either across the board or as applied in individual situations.
But given the fact that these are the real and very common commission numbers in civil society, why not use reason and patience and other skills and virtues to discuss the pros and cons of commission-based compensation in this situation, the appearance that you think it gives, and why it would be better to pay Fr. Anthony a different way?
Don't be fooled by that Voice in Your Head! It might be Screwtape whispering to you that you are the Brave Champion of Truth, Justice and the American Way when he is just trying to fool you into antagonizing others - even on the issues where you have a valid point to make. Instead, as Fr. Zossima said in The Brothers K, when you find yourself in a position to correct others by either force and harshness or humble love, always choose humble love. Mixed with reason, preferably.
My apologies to to all to the extent I myself haven't lived up to that standard here or elsewhere.
#22.1 Fr. George Washburn on 2009-11-06 17:27
Father George, if I might quote you with just a slight correction at the end (in bold): "Don't be fooled by that Voice in Your Head! It might be Screwtape whispering to you that you are the Brave Champion of Untruth, Injustice and the Antiochian Way... "
A question Father, you being a proven and outspoken champion of Philip's Way or the Highway, just what does that insidious Voice in Your Head whisper to you?
#22.1.1 Heracleides on 2009-11-07 11:50
In my Last Will and Testament, I leave my estate to my diocese and church. Will Antony the Fundraiser get a percentage of my estate?
#23 NOTanoldfriendfromchicago on 2009-11-06 13:49
No. Thanks for the donation, though. It will be much appreciated.
By the way it is the Economos Antony, not Anthony (no h) the fundraiser sarcasm is childish.
#23.1 not from Chicago on 2009-11-07 10:11
In my Last Will and Testament, I leave my estate to my diocese and church. Will Antony the Fundraiser get a percentage of my estate?
#23 NOTanoldfriendfromchicago on 2009-11-06 13:49 (Reply)
I suppose if you had made that commitment at Fr. Antony's Time Share Weekend Retreat Seminar...oh I'm sorry I mean't to say Holy Orthodox Seminar of Perpetual Fundraising, yes he would be entitled to his grease..uh commission.
Esctatic about being Orthodox and ashamed of being Antiochian for the moment.
#24 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-11-07 09:46
Dear Fr. George,
Voices in my head? Well at least I can now blame someone else for the words others would hold me responsible for.
Obviously ethical and unethical terms are difficult for you to parse, or recognize for that matter, as demonstrated by this statement "Should the same ethical reasoning that AFP applies to its members who are engaged in all forms of solicitation across the entire country in all venues imaginable apply to a single fund raiser who has been the Metropolitan's close friend and ally for more than 40 years,"
Your kidding right? The Metropolitan's close friend and ally of 40 plus years should not be subject to the ethical standards for fundraising as stated by the AFP? How about just common sense ethical standards any 14 year old could recognize?
Here Fr. Antony my close personal friend and "ally" wink..wink go raise money for our God Protected Archdiocese use the very authority and resources of The Church itself and skim off the top 4% for yourself. Thanks for all you've done for me, here is a little something for yourself.
Stench yes, stinks yes, emotive words? Nah just a passionless response by someone with a functioning olfactory. Well maybe not totally passionless.
Oh and thanks for calling me young man (I am most likely your elder) it must have something to do with the strong and virile content of my words...or is it their words? It's hard to tell.
#25 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-11-07 10:35
Doesn't Fr. Antony have a 'full-time' position? If the Archdiocese needs a fund-raiser, why doesn't Fr Antony just do that without compensation, and of course, some degree of release from his normal activity.
If he has a full-time position, then it seems to me that the fund raising would/should be done outside of that activity.
Or, am I asking too much?
#25.1 Yanni on 2009-11-07 16:56
Do consider Fr. George's words in a more sober and charitable light. I have, from time to time, felt that almost alone among those of us on this discussion board advocating canonical order and financial transparency for our Archdiocese, your flights of rhetorical excess sometimes match those of our Metropolitan's more hot-headed defenders.
To put it in the vernacular: chill out dude!
By all means, continue standing up for what is right--canonical order and financial transparency in the present circumstance--but with a bit more temperate tone.
#26 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-11-07 20:17
Dear Mr. Kirwan:
No, Mr. Kirwan, if you listen to the Whisperer and then pass the message on, you're responsible. But if you are saying the accountability is mitigated if you have done it in ignorance, I agree.
The terms ethical and unethical are difficult terms to parse and understand and use correctly, especially in a setting like this where we don't get to have a real, sustained, face-to-face discussion and define terms carefully, and where folks like you either do not understand that language can be used in subtle and confusing ways - or pretend that they don't understand that.
Let's look at the term ethical for starters. In one context it can mean "morally correct." In another context it can mean "morally neutral in and of itself but against the standards a group had chosen for some reason to impose upon itself."
Since you clearly understand the former and seem not to understand that the AFP uses the term in the latter sense, let me see if I can give some examples that will at least dispel the confusion you may be causing others.
Let's take the drug pseudephrine (somebody knowledgeable out there please correct me if I am wrong on the spelling or the science of this substance). I believe it is a controlled but lawful drug which is found in a number of commonly prescribed and available medications that perfectly moral people take to relieve medical conditions. But it is also an unethical drug for most if not all competitive athletes to take without specific OK of their sanctioning authority because the drug might give an unfair competitive advantage.
The CA Bar, which I joined 30 years ago this month, has an ethical standard that prevents an attorney from speaking directly to someone about a legal problem if he knows that the person is represented by another lawyer who has not consented to the direct contact. Is this because it is morally wrong to talk to others or because an attorney will automatically take unfair advantage of the person? No - it is simply a convention that group has adopted because experience has proven that a high enough percentage of such contacts will result in unfair advantage or friction that it is less trouble if we ban it altogether.
I don't see the AFP as making a moral statement here. They clearly believe in fundraisers getting paid. They also have a fund of experience that says that when people are turned loose on the general public to raise money on commission there is an inherent temptation to mistreat potential donors, "overfish" the waters, etc. that people who want to remain at the top of the profession agree not to do it. I see nothing in the AFP or other professional pronouncements that claims to be declarative of percentage compensation transgressing the moral imperatives of the universe. They just say it looks bad for the profession, tempts people to wrong individual donors, and may damage charitable fund-raising in an overall sense.
Here's another example. I am typing this at the office. My door from the general work and waiting area has a rather large pane of transparent glass in it. Because it is morally evil for me or other clergy to meet with someone behind a solid door? Because I will surely take advantage of people behind an opaque door? Because the canons of the Church require it? No; it's because I want to both avoid temptation and make a conscious statement about avoiding an impression of impropriety.
So the distinction I am making, Mr. Kirwan, is between something that is a) "unethical" because it is morally wrong in and of itself, and something that is b) "unethical" because, for some reason it is deemed to be inexpedient in the context of some aspect of human weakness. To the extent that you are contending there is something inherently morally wrong (and because of the imprecision and conclusory bluster of your language we still don't know if you are so contending, and if so why!!) in fundraiser percentage compensation *no matter what the level*, I am afraid that you have completely failed to make your case.
I think your position rests on a completely unproven assumption: that AFP standards that apply across the board, across the entire country, no matter who the fundraiser, how much experience, or what the charity served or the constituency approached, automatically do or should apply to the choice of a long-trusted associate to make it unethical for him to approach people within a fairly narrow constituency of people he already probably knows and has at least a nodding relationship with to a substantial extent. When you do that I think you make yourself look unreasonable - and like you are just using whatever you can to reach a conclusion you already had in mind.
Completely lost in all your label-pasting is the fact that the arrangement is fully and publicly disclosed, particularly to the Board if I understand the facts correcly. This is not a case of some hidden deal that was being hidden from trustees or proposed donors.
There's another angle I am not well-situated to assess: culture. I can see the possibility of percentage compensation to a fund-raiser being much more palatable to people from the Middle East than to those of us who are culturally American. And presumably that consitutency is the intended focus of Fr. Anthony's assignment.
I think there are perfectly good reasons for His Eminence to deal with Fr. Anthony on terms that differ markedly from (and are far less circumscribed than) what he would offer an inexperienced Joe Blow.
As you have also managed to mention when catching your breath from all the bluster, I also believe there are perfectly good reasons to ask serious questions about the arrangment. Such as
- does it look or smell bad to a lot of people who matter to give an old friend who is under severe criticism for his recent actions a percentage deal like this one?
- is the amount of the percentage too high?
- will such an arrangement be repugnant to potential donors?
I think all the simplistic and unsupported claims of "illegality in virtually all jurisdictions" or ipso facto "immoral unethicality" just antagonizes others and obscures the true questions that I have listed above.
I apologize to any who feel I have wasted their time with such a detailed look at the way terms are being slung around here. In a forum like this where so much junk gets slung around so quickly, I guess a person who tries to stop a minute and see if there is more than knee-jerk, sound-bite sloganeering to be considered, can look like he's getting in the way, showing off, or making a nuisance of himself.
I see the collection of issues this discussion addresses as awfully important. Given all the heat generated it is tempting to just say "so what?" I think the "what" is that there is a big difference between something that is inadvisable or looks bad on one hand and what is inherently immoral or unfair on the other. And if we are going to try to get along with our brethren despite sharp disagreements, trying to be clear seems like a good investment to make.
#27 Fr. George Washburn on 2009-11-08 16:40
Thank you, Fr George, for a good discussion of the nature and value of professional ethics. I'd like to respond to two of your points.
Regarding "I think your position rests on a completely unproven assumption: that AFP standards that apply across the board, across the entire country, no matter who the fundraiser, how much experience, or what the charity served or the constituency approached, automatically do or should apply to the choice of a long-trusted associate to make it unethical for him to approach people within a fairly narrow constituency of people he already probably knows and has at least a nodding relationship with to a substantial extent."
Two things about this. First, according to the official notice, Fr Antony is not being hired to solicit funds from "a fairly narrow constituency" -- he is being hired as the chair of the ENTIRE Department of Planning and Development. He therefore is (presumably) responsible for ALL fundraising operations, whether major or estate giving from people he knows or broad-based support from a much wider constituency -- indeed, from the members of the entire archdiocese as well as anyone outside the AOCA who believes in and supports its mission.
Second, the AFP standards in question apply neither to the CHOICE of "a long-trusted associate " nor to the ethicality of WHOM he approches and HOW, but to his COMPENSATION. Regardless of Mr Kirwan's assumptions or the validity of his argument, compensation is the central issue here, and we shouldn't lose sight of that.
Now, regarding "I can see the possibility of percentage compensation to a fund-raiser being much more palatable to people from the Middle East than to those of us who are culturally American. And presumably that consitutency is the intended focus of Fr. Anthony's assignment." A few things about this:
(1) Once again, Fr Antony's assignment is explicitly for the ENTIRE archdiocese, not solely for "people from the Middle East".
(2) Speaking from my experience fundraising for St Vladimir's Seminary, neither I nor any of my colleagues (so far as I am aware) experienced any greater difficulty raising funds from "people from the Middle East" because we were on salary rather than commission. Indeed, whenever the issue came up, our NOT being on commission made EVERYONE trust us more, since they knew that we didn't have our own interests ahead of the donors' and the seminary's.
(3) The notion of pandering to the cultural inclinations of a limited segment of the archdiocese's constituency is risable, especially when these cultural models of how business is done have NOTHING to do with the Gospel of Christ or the good order of the Church. Whether or not commission-based compensation for fundraisers is culturally acceptable in the Middle East, the AFP, CASE, and NCPG standards all CLEARLY indicate that such compensation is considered unethical for fundraisers HERE IN AMERICA. Even though American civil society recognizes and values percentage compensation for other professions, we are not talking about such compensation for lawyers, real estate professionals, stockbrokers, or salespeople; we are talking about percentage compensation for fundraisers.
Fr George, you asked in an earlier post, "Should the same ethical reasoning that AFP applies to its members who are engaged in all forms of solicitation across the entire country in all venues imaginable apply to a single fund raiser who has been the Metropolitan's close friend and ally for more than 40 years, and who will be working with a single constituency that His Eminence will no doubt wish to see conserved for posterity, not ripped off for short term gains?" Given:
(1) that Fr Antony WILL be "engaged in all forms of solicitation across the entire country" to ALL the constituents of the AOCA (of whatever ethnicity or personal history),
(2) that he is being hired as the Chair of the entire Department of Planning and Development, not as a campaign consultant or "hired gun" solicitor,
(3) that he will be representing the the archdiocese as a whole and not simply Metropolitan Philip,
(4) that his responsibility is to build and solidify philanthropic relationships between donors and the archdiocese (not simply with himself and/or Metropolitan Philip),
(5) that the AFP, CASE, and the NCPG have all determined that percentage compensation for fundraisers presents ethical questions and temptations that are best avoided and that are not present in other forms of compensation,
(6) and especially that (in the words of A Fellow Orthodox Christian, above) "It is traditional for Christians to act in accordance with the norms of the society in which they live, where those do not contradict the faith [and] to go even beyond the requirements of civil [standards] in their righteousness",
the answer to this question is a resounding "YES!"
#27.1 John Congdon on 2009-11-09 08:35
A few additional thoughts.
Fr George states "I think there are perfectly good reasons for His Eminence to deal with Fr. Anthony on terms that differ markedly from (and are far less circumscribed than) what he would offer an inexperienced Joe Blow." Fr George, assuming you mean "financial terms that differ...", could you please state what these reasons might be, as well as how and why they would carry greater weight than standard professional fundraising ethics and practices?
Fr George also asks three excellent questions about the advisability of this arrangement, viz:
"- does it look or smell bad to a lot of people who matter to give an old friend who is under severe criticism for his recent actions a percentage deal like this one?
"- is the amount of the percentage too high?
"- will such an arrangement be repugnant to potential donors?"
Apart from the obvious "YES" to the first and third questions and "Percentages are unethical in the first place" to the second, I think Fr George himself provides the best answer in his earlier comment about his own professional practice as a priest: "because I want to both avoid temptation and make a conscious statement about avoiding an impression of impropriety."
Percentage compensation for fundraisers presents temptation and appears improper. Even if Fr Antony can resist that temptation, why subject him to it? Why not make a conscious statement about avoiding impropriety? Or are we happier making the opposite statement, that because he is a priest, an Economos, "the Metropolitan's close friend and ally for more than 40 years", that a lower standard of righteousness applies?
(As a side note, the expression "a lot of people who matter" is disturbing. In Christ, EVERYONE matters, and I sincerely hope that Fr George is not suggesting that a minority opinion is not worthy of consideration or that people only matter if they are or could be major donors to the archdiocese .)
Finally, I thought folks would be interested to note that Fr Anthony Scott of Stewardship Advocates (an Orthodox Christian fundraising consultancy -- see http://www.stewardshipadvocates.org/index.html) states unequivocally in several of his brochures that "Fund raising consultants universally condemn as unethical the practice of compensation as a percent of what is raised." That's not from a secular organization, folks; that's an Orthodox Christian priest with over twenty years of experience as a professional fundraiser, both at St Vladimir's Seminary and as an independant consultant.
#27.2 John Congdon on 2009-11-09 10:54
I am starting to think that people like "Jeff" and Father George Washburn are more interested in find excuses than to have a real discussion on the merits of the allegation that the contingency fee arrangement is wrong for a Christian Orthodox Church.
Don't take me wrong: they both make good arguments. Unfortunately, they both go only so far. Jeff demanded to see canons that contraindicated this arrangement. We gave him Scriptural verses but he reemphasized that he really needed to see canons." So, we gave him a couple only for him to withdraw into silence. Father George has been arguing the meaning of ethical rules and conduct. In an exchange of postings with Mr. Kerwin, he made a very logical and true distinction between unethical=morally wrong and unethical=against policy. But, he has ignored the arguments against the arrangement on scriptural and canonical grounds. Why? I think it is because they are trying to find ways to justify Metropolitan Philip's decision rather than trying to address the real issue.
#28 Carl on 2009-11-09 08:21
I have not been stunned into silence by the force of anyone's arguments, but I do guess I am being taken too literally. No, the canons do not address contingent fee arrangements in fundraising, and sure enough it would be trivial if they did. Yes, the scriptures endorse the notion that appearances are important. I, however, just do not believe that those considerations are the driving force in condemning the arrangement with Fr. Anthony. I find the notion that anyone outside the world of Orthodoxy, or perhaps more accurately the ultra-rarified world of American Orthodox controvesialists, would give one big hoot one way or the other to be risible, especially since it is fully and publicly disclosed. No, sadly enough, I am afraid the true motive is otherwise. Perhaps in some people's eyes +Philip has forfeited any right to have the benefit of the doubt. I cannot concur.
#28.1 jeff on 2009-11-09 19:39
If I were a Martian, whose entire knowledge of the problems in the Antiochian Archdiocese consisted of this contingency fee arrangement, I may also be inclined to view it as a tempest in a tea pot. However, as Senator Dirksen once said, "a few million here, a few million there, and pretty soon you are talking real money." In the case of Metropolitan Philip, the number of relatively small matters have been many and have been interspersed with some not so minor matters. They add up, they constitute a pattern, and they occasion serious objections to even relatively small matters. I do not happen to think that this particular issue is a small matter. Nevertheless, I can see how it may be such to a Martian.
#28.1.1 Carl on 2009-11-10 08:21
As Mr Dirkson used to say (in joke for those of us old enough to remember it), I think that was Mr Goldwater. However, "Nobody's perfect."
#184.108.40.206 AnonyRed on 2009-11-11 02:47
You know as I attempted to labor through your wordy lecture regarding the intricate, nuanced meanings of ethical along with it's intricate layers of meanings and my apparent inadequate ability to comprehend the incomprehensibility of your fine presentation I was reminded (between naps) about our Lord's repeated consternation with members of your esteemed profession. Take your pick lawyer or cleric?
Tell me Fr. George, let's make this simple given my alleged propensity for simplicity. Would you in your capacity as a member of the California Bar for 30 years, counsel a client who solicited your opinion and happened to be the head of a major religious body to appoint one of his closest friends and ally's to head up fund raising for that group and base his compensation on a percentage of the take?
If you can somehow manage to answer this in 2500 words or less, perhaps more than one or two will be able to divine your answer.
#29 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-11-09 09:15
AN OPEN LETTTER TO OCA NEWS/MARK STOKOE
FROM THE wOODCHUCKS
One of our closest and much respected colleagues has, through innuendo and an unprofessional attempt (not very well) disguised as journalism, been much maligned, quoted out of context and misinterpreted on this site.
A group of us who earn out living as serious journalists happened upon your site while searching for information concerning Eastern Orthodox Easter Celebrations.
Since calling her (our multiple award-winning co-worker’s) attention to your site, we have monitored your OCA NEWS organization web pages from time to time and can state the following from an absolutely certain and professional point of view:
Your stated agenda, or objectives of transparency, etc., are only the most minor aspect of your current purpose.
Anyone not of your faith and not mired in your personal struggle for some sort of recognition as a hero or at best an attention seeker is able to judge quite clearly that the purpose you actually do serve is quite low. At the very least it is in some way self-serving and at worst reveals your contempt for those with the talent, position, success, achievement and recognition you do not possess.
Our deep commitment to the First Amendment suffers that even such as you have the privilege of spewing whatever you will into cyberspace.
Why, sir, do you believe yourself to be a Christian? Is it because you sit on a governing body of a group called THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMREICA?
Is it from this group which you help to govern, that you learned the Christianity, the ethics, morals and regulations which you insist the other groups of Americans of the Orthodox faith adopt in order to be more purely Orthodox?
It has become a matter of importance in our little college town to know exactly what it means to be an American Orthodox Christian.
I have promised my friend and co-worker that I would not use her name. (Something to do with airing family laundry.) Although I see no reason for her request, I will honor it. You will, no doubt know who she is, any way.
We sometimes call her “NINE,” since her proficiency with a nine at the target range is astounding.
We live and work in a community without much diversity. Much of our social interaction consists of the usual white bread people, places and things. Aside from a few Greek acquaintances and some Serbs I met who came here when Clinton sent the boys to Bosnia, the only other Orthodox Christians I’ve ever really known are/NINE and the late Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who lived for a while on a farm not too far from here.
The religious philosophy of Solzhenitsyn had a loftier character to it than your own earthbound criticisms of unproven fault, while the example of faith of our “NINE” has been in inspiration to more people than she will ever know.
Fortunately, I have had the experience of meeting and speaking with those people before stumbling on to your pages.
One of our former interns who attends a nearby college on a debate scholarship is now using your OCA NEWS as an example of cyberspace pollution. It is, he believes a perfect example as it is neither hard-core porn nor does it advocate violence or teach how to build a weapon. His premise, on the other hand, is that it typifies the insidious, white noise evil, which masks itself as open dialogue. A recent reference to Screwtape was a treasure for him to see as he is a devotee of C.S. Lewis.
Nine has made a terrific effort to stop our input to and research for his thesis, even to the point of offering to cover extra hours for those of us who want time off. She has not succeeded, nor will she succeed. We are, in fact, surprised at her efforts since you and your work seem to be completely antithetic to her and her work. She cannot possible admire or want to protect you, but there seems to be something about airing the family laundry, again. (I said she was a good soul and good at her work, but proficiency with a nine does not a Warrior Woman make.)
I say this because, you, Mr. CHRISTIAN GOVERNOR OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA, are dedicated more to mischief than your own devils will allow you to acknowledge.
If you are, indeed, the purveyor of what is the real news of the ORTHODOX CHURCH SCENE IN AMERICA, you people worship a strange and alien god. Your deity is nourished by discord and you are much more his priest than those pathetic clergy against whom you and your followers complain.
What is good and wonderful about Eastern Orthodoxy, I, and others in my community have seen in the earnest example of our friend who lives and works among us. Her husband (one of the priests you wish to see somehow discredited) has often been urged to open a church in this community.
We cheered her on her return from Syria for the work she accomplished during the trip.
We watched her struggle as one bishop you seem to support called her husband a forger, again with your support. We saw you use her account of the events you questioned to support that hierarch’s claim and gasped at your gall, not to mention your absolute lack of subtlety, at parsing, twisting and conjecture.
Fortunately, most of those who post on your site, on both sides of the non-issues you insist on calling news, are often the same people using other names or anonymities
You, sir, are engaged in a destructive process which benefits no one, not even yourself in the end if you do at all consider your soul.
In any case, while you seem devoted to your “religion” you also seem bereft of any spirituality.
You are certainly no real journalist, and no man wanting a true solution. Your main goal since the past Easter Season has been to be RIGHT AND HAVE THE LAST WORD.
Your mantra is that your only agenda is truth and transparency yet your statements and the reporting which you say are only to support that agenda would be thrown out by any unbiased judge of the on-going debate you seek to perpetuate.
Your standards of clarity and verification are much lower for yourself and your team than for the other team. That wouldn’t be nearly as objectionable if you didn’t protest continually that it is not so.
Your meanness and resentment take a backseat only to Kevin’s, who is so full of resentment and venom that his image in the mirror must cringe when he approaches.
If you should have the courage to print this I will be surprised but not swayed that you are what you pretend to be.
I will also send a copy to the hierarch of the body which you help to govern. Since you say this site has no affiliation with that body, he may not be aware of how it reflects on the very credibility and motives of THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA.
Finally, if you believe yourself to be a real journalist, don’t rush to quit your day job; and if you aim for truth and transparency, better switch to the side of the angels, as right now you serve as an agent of their fallen companions..
When our intern has finished his thesis, we will no longer be looking here for any reason and so will leave thanking you for this encounter with one who helps shape the face of THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA.
Since our publisher has a policy concerning involving his vehicle in such non-credible controversy and since it is more honorable here than in most up-front websites to retain anonymity, we will do so.
(Editor's note: Always glad to know I am helping educate the young .... I would commend Fr. Washburn's excellent reflection to your student- friend for additional criticisms.)
#30 The Woodchucks on 2009-11-09 12:55
Well, we do value transparency.
It would be difficult to find anything more transparent than the unbiased journalistic integrity of THE WOODCHUCKS. We will take your comments under advisement. Thank you for holding us all to a higher standard.
#30.1 Brian Van Sickle on 2009-11-10 19:24
I eagerly await Khouriye’s wealthy, golf-obsessed, name-dropping buddies, oops... I mean these journalists, critique of theantiochian.com.
#30.2 solzhenitsyn'sneighbor,puhleeease on 2009-11-10 22:05
How much wood did this woodchuck chuck?
I would like to defend Mr. Stokoe who has to the best of my recollection never displayed meanness or resentment in any of his commentary.
As for me and well, I must say for you, that seems to be another matter.
You earn your living as a serious journalist? Forgive my skepticism. Your smug attempt to communicate your contempt for this site and the person of Mr. Stokoe is woefully lacking in intresting content or persuasiveness.
#31 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-11-09 19:10
Kevin and Fellow Orthodox Christian,
Have you noticed that the postings of Khouriye Gabriel on The Antiochian have disappeared? I tried to find them to no avail. May be it's my old age...Drats!
#32 Carl on 2009-11-10 09:33
How really funny and mixed up and wrong you guys are!
i got permission from friends and family for just this one time to break my promise not to pay attention to the conversations and back and forthing here, but the WOODCHUCKS made me do it.
First of all, no objectivity is required in an opinion piece which is what the WOODCHUCKS wrote here. Bias in the content is, in fact what is called for.
The really funny thing is that anyone would think the Woodchucks are wealthy and (of all things) golf obsessed. not one has ever played golf.
My proficiency with a "nine" is not a nine iron, but with a 9mm Glock at the target range not the driving range. They are correct about that proficiency only in that it excels their own. When it comes to skeet, however, their records are all much better than mine.
They are wonderfully accurate at shooting clay pigeons, as evidenced in the above letter.
As for name dropping, well, heck, everybody knows at least one somebody sort of famous.
Finally, Kevin never disappoints with cleverness. He asks, "How much wood did this woodchuck chuck?"
The guys ask him "HOW MUCH GOOD COULD A WOODCHUCK DO
IF A WOODCHUCK COULD CHUCK YOU?"
My own answer would be, ABSOLUTELY NO GOOD COULD COME FROM EVER CHUCKING KEVIN.
Kevin is a treasure to someone, somewhere and the WOODCHUCKS are tough on everyone. NINE, is only one of my nicknames and at least that one is politically correct.
OK, back to my own computer which has been equipped with an extremely comical way of trying to keep me from this site.
I did promise this would be a one time deal having lost a wager and OCA NEWS, is now lost to me as a playground.
I suppose at some level most of you do mean well.
Much love to all of you,
#33 NINE on 2009-11-12 11:49
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