EDUFIT – Gateway International School Board Development Project

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Dr. David A. Wells

Dr. David A. Wells, Executive Consultant and Principal of the GLOBAL School Consulting Group, is honored to have been contracted to provide Board development and professional development services to the Ownership and organizational leadership of EDUFIT and the Gateway International School (, in Hanoi, Vietnam.  The services will extend over a period of approximately eighteen months, and will ensure that best practices are implemented at the governance level and that the organization is in full compliance with governance-related accreditation standards.


 Gateway International School is a bilingual school that is the result of a partnership between Gateway Education Global and the Nam Trieu Company, serving approximately 600 Vietnamese students in a Grade 1-12 program.  GIS strives to be the premier bilingual school in Hanoi providing education that inspires creativity and fosters a strong sense of identity to help students embrace a life that reaches their full potential.  GIS has a VISION to serve the community with dedication and professionalism.

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GIS is fully accredited by the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training and is working towards accreditation from the Middle States Association and the Council of International Schools. GIS is committed to providing students with the best possible program of studies and believes that bilingual education provides students with a unique set of skills and abilities that are beneficial throughout life. This involves the use of internationally recognized curricula and purposefully educating students about the world around us. GIS provides rigorous preparation for students through proactive self-assessments to ensure that students are prepared to study, work and, live anywhere in the world.


Why Capital Campaigns Fail

Wayne Lynch, M.A., ACFRE, Executive Consultant

Why Capital Campaigns Fail
by Wayne K. Lynch

Avoid failure and choose success as your school plans for the future.

The formula for a failed campaign = What before Why + Faulty Planning Process + Cost Overruns

The formula for a successful campaign = Why before What + Wise Planning + Accurate Costs

The Goodpeople Christian School was growing. Their enrollment reached that mystical 80% of capacity and school leadership was convinced they needed more space for students, to convert the existing auditorium into a gymnasium, and build a new auditorium. Architects were engaged, plans drawn, and costs estimated at $200 per square foot. These ideas had been discussed on and off for years with the board and it was assumed it would have widespread support. Artist renderings were presented to the community and displayed prominently as ‘coming soon.’ Fundraising commenced with bold confidence that “God Will Provide.” After all, they had prayed about it.

But then, things started to unravel. The final cost estimates came in way over budget and the project had to be scaled back. The school community was disillusioned because this new plan was not what had been presented. Funding for the project was significantly short of the final costs. The school needed a large loan to complete the project. Leadership justified this by saying, “This is how God provided for us.” Confidence in leadership eroded and the school struggled financially for many years.  One year after the building was completed, the Head of School left. He was burned out. Leadership failed the school.

Why the failure? This is an “all too often” scenario in schools. This illustration highlights three major reasons why Capital Campaigns Fail!

The What before Why = Failure

First, campaigns fail because the “What” was decided before carefully considering the “Why.” In other words, their “Vision” (of where they were going, or what the “end” looked like) was not driving the plan for facilities. “Need” was driving their facilities. Needs are endless, tiring, and not motivating to most of our donors. Whereas, a compelling vision IS motivating and energizing! We must keep the “end” in mind – how lives will be transformed and remembering the number one reason why people give is to “See lives changed.”

Faulty Planning Process = Failure

Second, campaigns fail because of a “Lack of a proper planning process,” both for the priorities and the campaign to raise the money. The Goodpeople Christian School spent hours carefully laying out each new classroom, calculating the space between each desk, determining the width of the parking spaces, choosing the wall finishes, and on and on. They obtained feedback from all the coaches and performing arts teachers and volunteers, after the initial drafts. The process dragged on, trying to please everyone. Then, the some members of the faculty started complaining that there was nothing for them. Their facility needs were largely left untouched. The building committee then began to backtrack and try to fit in a few perks for the faculty.

My personal fundraising consultant, who I used for many years, taught me early-on: Ask for advice before you ask for money. Asking for money first will get you a lot of advice! The parents had been expected to carry the load of financial support for the campaign, but commitments had been slow, and now a disgruntled group in the school community was growing. The school should have developed a planning process, which obtained the input from all constituencies first before developing their plans and determining their financial capacity.

School leadership started hearing comments from key donors like – “I am not giving anything to a building, when we have teachers in need” and “we need a Business Manager more than we need another auditorium.” A fundamental principal was neglected – Capital Campaigns need “something for everybody.” By this, I mean we must provide opportunities to give to buildings, people, and programs. A three-pronged approach allows everyone to participate. Plus, the participation should include typical “deferred” ways to give, such as wills, annuities, retirement plans, appreciated assets and gifts in kind.

Cost Overruns = Failure

Third, campaigns fail because of the inability to accurately assess the costs. The Goodpeople Christian School had “overpromised and underdelivered.” They were anxious to motivate the school community to give by presenting an exciting plan, which turned out not to be an exciting vision. The people expected the plans to be what was built, but when the costs proved prohibitive, everyone had to accept some cutback in their area. This resulted in “trust” being eroded between several groups and the leadership. Then, when it was announced that the school needed to take out a loan, a small group of families did not re-enroll their students the following year.

My experience with capital campaigns shows repeatedly the inability of school leadership to accurately assess costs. Schools erroneously believe that announcing a lower cost estimate rather than a higher cost will increase giving. But this backfires. It is when we accurately assess costs, provide liberal contingencies and then come in under budget that donors are encouraged and give more. In confidential interviews, donors repeatedly express their displeasure with cost overruns (even though they have said nothing publicly), and it does affect their giving.

By the way, somewhere on the back hallway of The Goodpeople Christian School, the original plans for the building are still on a bulletin board, yellowed, and the “Coming Soon” sign crossed out in magic marker and instead now says, “Never Came.”

So, how do we avoid this “Failure” scenario. Here is a suggested formula for a successful capital campaign:

  1. Get the “Why” right before the “What” Develop a compelling vision which drives the priorities
  2. Wise Planning – Conduct a planning process, which obtains input from all stakeholders not only about multiple priorities, but financial capacity and ways to give before asking them for money.
  3. Accurate Costs – Obtain accurate costs, add significant contingencies, and avoid debt.

Ora et labore – The entire process of planning and execution is hard work and needs to be bathed in prayer.

Wayne K. Lynch is a graduate of Rider University (B.S. Marketing, ’71), Temple University (M. Ed., ’78), and Dallas Theological Seminary (M.A. ’84). He has been fundraising since 1975 and speaks, writes, and consults widely on the topic.

Video Surveillance: Helping to Ensure a Safe School

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Bobby Brasher, Senior Consultant
School-wide video surveillance is a security resource, which helps ensure a safe and secure school. Video surveillance is a modern piece of technology that, when used in conjunction with other resources and human assets, creates a school that is a hard target.
Cameras on the perimeter of your school entrance combined with a license plate reader make up the first level of school security. Video recording is also very important as this allows you to know who is coming and going on your campus and when.
Cameras are an investment that will make your school more secure by giving you the ability to watch the outer perimeter, interior halls, common areas, and gathering places with minimum manpower. Last, video cameras and recorded evidence are useful in questions of liability exposure for schools. Personal injury cases, domestic violence, sexual assault allegations, and thefts can be mitigated from recorded evidence.
For more information on how to increase the safety and security of your campus, contact Bobby Brasher HERE.

Rift Valley Academy School Culture Audit

Dr. David A. Wells, Executive Consultant and Principal of the GLOBAL School Consulting Group, is honored to conduct a comprehensive “School Culture Audit” for the RIFT VALLEY ACADEMY (, in Kijabe, Kenya.

According to the RVA website: “RVA is a Christian boarding school in central Kenya with over a hundred years of rich history.  The school currently serves about 500 missionary children representing 30 nationalities and 80 mission organizations and churches.  RVA also accommodates a small number of Kenyan national students and expatriate, non-mission students.  RVA views its role as dyadic: supporting current mission work while investing in the next generation of missionaries and gospel-bearers.  As a branch of Africa Inland Mission, we exist to see Christ-centered churches established and thriving among all of Africa’s peoples.”  The history of RVA is vividly recorded in Dr. Philip Dow’s book, The School in the Clouds – The Rift Valley Academy Story.

In order to ensure an effective and useful assessment of RVA’s campus culture, Dr. Wells has enlisted the support and assistance of other GLOBAL consultants, including Dr. Janet Lowrie Nason (Senior Consultant) and Paul Gibbs (Affiliate Consultant).  One component of the assessment relates to institutional leadership, for which Dr. Toby A. Travis’ TrustED 360 Leadership Assessment is being utilized.  While much advance work is being conducted through electronic communication and surveys, Dr. Wells will be on the RVA campus during the week of January 14-18, 2019, to conduct interviews and focus groups in person.

Build a Proper Climate for Giving

Here is the second installment of a series of articles from Wayne Lynch, Executive Consultant.

What is a Proper Climate for Giving?

 Definition:  A proper climate for giving is one where God’s people experience the joy of giving because they have been moved by the Holy Spirit and challenged to support the Great Commission.

Giving thrives in an atmosphere of trust.  Integrity is the oxygen that gives life to donors.  The people know they are loved, served, and are serving and loving others.  (See Desko –“Building an Atmosphere of Trust.”)  The expectancy of God’s work in their lives and how they can impact others are present.  They are working toward “excelling in the grace of giving.”

Fundamental Principles:

  1. It’s all about the “Mission.” This is more important than money.  The primary reason people give is: they “believe in the mission” of an organization.  Therefore, the school must be very clear about its mission and filter all programs and activities through its grid.
  1. Vision motivates givers and raises money. Clear direction for the future of the school helps excite people about the possibilities of what God can do with their resources.
  1. Develop and maintain “openness and integrity.” Full honesty and clear communication are absolutely essential.  Good school leadership communicates both successes and failures, both good decisions and mistakes.
  1. Generosity in school leadership. When the school leadership is generous, even though they do not communicate how much they give, the community follows their leadership.  All board members must be giving to the school.
  1. Seek to build “A people of God,” emphasizing the role of Biblical community. Treat all givers and potential givers as being of equal value in God’s sight.
  1. Teach about giving. A master plan for teaching stewardship principles should include reaching toddlers through senior adults.
  1. Prayer follows financial investment. This is similar to the principle that where your treasure is your heart will be.  People pray for the ministries they have given to support.
  1. Celebrate successes. Thank donors and volunteers regularly and profusely.  Encourage, exhort, and uplift the people.  Use testimonials of God’s provision.
  1. Develop systems of accountability. Regular reporting of the use of funds as directed is absolutely essential.
  1. No school or ministry has ever survived without money.


A school with a healthy giving climate is characterized by:

  1. An understanding of the school’s mission
  2. A clear vision of where the school is headed
  3. Generous leadership
  4. A commitment to prayer
  5. A fully informed community
  6. Strong accountability
  7. Godly, stable leadership

Contemporary Problems:

  1. A pattern of negativity. The only time many school communities hear about giving is when the school is behind in their budget or some special project is to be funded.  The only printed communication is a statement of the deficit.
  1. Never mentioning giving. Many consider giving such a private matter that it is ignored altogether.  When this happens, the importance of stewardship is minimized. People need training and teaching in biblical stewardship. 
  1. Announcing construction of a new building before firm costs and funding are identified. Many schools will prematurely announce projects and then see the costs continue to increase.  The project may then need to be reduced in size so people are disappointed and often lose confidence in leadership. 

Critical Guiding Passage of Scripture:

Micah 6:8 – “He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”


  • Compassion, empathy, and sympathy are great ways to encourage people to give.
  • Schools should not see themselves in competition with other ministries for the donor’s gifts. The decision to give is between the donor and God.  They must follow their heart.
  • People don’t like to give to pay off debt or cost overruns.
  • Don’t tell people to “Give till it hurts,” tell them to “Give till it feels good.”
  • There are more verses in the New Testament on money and material possessions than on Heaven and Hell combined.
  • Always use funds exactly as the donor designates. Do not borrow internally from restricted funds.  Nothing discourages giving like mistrust. 

Action Required:

  1. Establish a stewardship committee that is responsible for developing a-wide long-range plan for raising money.
  2. The mission statement should be clearly visible on all church buildings and literature, and be memorized by all leadership and staff.
  3. The “vision” or direction of the future of the school needs to be clearly understood by the community.
  4. School leadership should commit themselves to open, honest, positive communication about finances and stewardship. 

Life Lesson:

Schools and churches with the most financial problems usually have debt, instability in leadership and lack of direction.  To compensate for this, there is a constant emphasis on the budget – often “how far we are behind” (failing to tell how expenses have been cut or are reduced as well), or that “we only increased the budget 2% this year” (as if there were something spiritual about small increases, when actually small increases usually keep people’s sights low), or using the budget as an excuse for all “no’s” (“it’s not in the budget so we can’t do it,” or, “we’ve used up the budget”).  The only time the community hears about giving is when the school is behind in the budget.   

The easiest way to destroy an atmosphere of trust is to use a donor’s gift in a way other than what the donor directed.  No apology seems to be enough to rebuild the trust.  These donors never seem to regain their enthusiasm for giving. 


  • “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” – Proverbs 29:18
  • “An audience that doesn’t pay is very critical.” – George Burns
  • “One of the greatest missing teachings in the American Church today is the reminder that nothing we have belongs to us.” – George MacDonald
©2018 Wayne Lynch, All Rights Reserved

How to Successfully Raise Money

Here is the first installment of a series of articles from Wayne Lynch, Executive Consultant.

WKL8x10Step One:  Develop a Biblical Philosophy of Raising Money

Definition: Fundraising is a spiritual ministry to assist givers in achieving their full measure of generosity and to experience God’s maximum blessing.
God gives access to His financial resources.  The church should recognize that these resources have been entrusted into the hands of stewards – people in the congregation.  It is the church’s responsibility to disciple, educate, teach, exhort, and help people to be wise stewards through effective planning and joyful giving.  The church benefits from the giving in being able to carry out its mission; the donor enjoys God’s blessings.  The problem comes in coordinating the two – the church’s mission and people’s giving.  The church should determine their philosophy of raising money according to biblical principles and use this as a framework for an effective fundraising plan.
Fundamental Principles:
1.      God owns it all; His people are only stewards.  (Psalm 50:10 – “For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on the thousand hills.”  Psalm 24:1 – “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”)
God, the Creator, owns everything and has entrusted His people with the stewardship responsibilities for resources, talents, and time.  This fundamental principle encourages givers to be wise stewards of all God’s provisions.  The major question is how much to keep and how much to give.
2.      God wants to bless.  (Acts 20:35 – “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”)  Blessing accompanies generosity.  Paul, in accepting gifts from the church at Philippi said, “Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account” (Philippians 4:17).
3.      God knows how much is needed.  (Philippians 4:19 – “And my God shall supply all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”)  God knows the exact amount of “supplies” that are in the best interests of His children to have.  In some cases this may be a tremendous amount of money, and in other cases it may be little.
4.      Planning and diligent work are required.  (2 Corinthians 9:7a – “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give…”)  The phrase “decided in his heart” which indicates the need to plan wisely before God.  The principle of wise planning applies to discipleship in Luke 14:28 and can also be applied to the process of organization and planning for the future.  (“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower.  Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?”)
5.      We must use Biblical principles and ethics to “help people give.”  (2 Corinthians 9:7b – “…not reluctantly or under compulsion for God loves a cheerful giver.”)  God does not want His people “forced” or under undue pressure to give.  It should be a voluntary, cheerful response to the God who provides all blessings.
6.      Raising money is inextricably linked to the Great Commission and Gospel message.  (2 Corinthians 9:13 – “…your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and everyone else.”)  Fulfilling the Great Commission requires the financial support of God’s people for the church, ministers, missionaries, workers, materials, and support systems.  Gifts meet needs, help to fulfill plans, and enable the Gospel to be spread throughout the world.
“Where your treasure is, your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).  God wants our hearts!  The church can help people have a heart for God by creating an environment that sees fundraising as “a spiritual ministry that involves partnering with God and His people in distributing financial resources.”
©2018 Wayne Lynch, All Rights Reserved

The Complex Reasons for School Shootings

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Bobby Brasher, Affiliate Consultant

The reasons for school shootings are many and complex. Many people, including some of our politicians, focus on one factor: gun control. The topic of gun control leads and supports their agenda. Yet, there are a wide variety of ongoing reasons and factors for shootings:

  • Guns are many and available to people who don’t need to have one
  • The decay of moral character (Video games, violence and the devaluation of life in our society – particularly with our young people)
  • The decline of the family unit and parental involvement
  • The approach to mental health and the lack of availability and treatment
  • The architecture and design of our schools, as well as lack of training for faculty and staff

All of the above are contributing factors in school shootings. Until we address each through awareness, action, and training, we may continue to experience mass violence. Your thoughts?

©2018 Bobby Brasher

School Safety Threat Assessment

School Safety Threat Assessment is the first step to making your campus safe and secure. Historically, schools have been designed and built for easy entrance and easy exit. They were never built to protect and guard from an attack.

Now, we find ourselves trying to reinforce and defend structures and buildings that were never designed to deter or prevent an attack.

A thorough threat assessment is the first step towards student safety. Our safety and security consultants are veteran military law-enforcement with instructor certifications. In the coming weeks, I will break down the components for the security of your school and your students.

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Bobby Brasher, Affiliate Consultant

Family-Owned Schools: “Altruistic Behavior” – by Dr. David A. Wells

There are several non-economic factors that distinguish family-owned schools from those with other ownership structures.  Owner values and emotional engagement are two such factors addressed in previous posts.  Another such unique and distinguishing factor is altruistic behavior among family members.  Altruistic behavior among family members, in the literature, is considered to refer to family members’ desire to cater to the welfare of their family unit (Gomez-Mejia, Cruz, Berrone, and De Castro).

This consultant has worked with many proprietary schools in which altruistic behavior among family members has been functional, purposeful, and effective; contexts within which members of a family have joined forces in operating their school, resulting in an efficient and economically-sound endeavor, bringing economic and non-economic benefit to the family members, as well as to the consumers and beneficiaries of the enterprise.

There is, however, potential for a darker side to this factor of altruistic behavior, in the context of family-owned schools, in which the effort and intent is to benefit family members engaged in the enterprise, without significant consideration to their qualification or contribution to achievement of intended organizational purposes.  The satisfaction resulting from this altruism, and the benefits received, can end up being a consequence of living up to family obligations, rather than a commitment and expectation of competence, contribution, or professional performance.

As a safeguard against this sort of altruistic behavior, which can be highly detrimental in the school setting, it is increasingly common for family-owned schools to develop governance-level policies which require owners and beneficiaries of owners who intend to work within the schools, to:

  • demonstrate qualifications commensurate with the position,
  • submit to supervision and evaluation according to established norms,
  • and receive compensation consistent with that received by employees of similar rank and responsibility.

In this way, safeguards are put into place to ensure that altruistic behavior among family members doesn’t become a negative force within the school and its community.

©2018 David A. Wells, Ed.D.

Family-Owned Schools: Emotional Engagement – by Dr. David A. Wells

There are several non-economic factors that distinguish family-owned and other privately-owned schools from those with other ownership structures.  Owner values are one such structure addressed in a previous post.  Another such unique and distinguishing factor is strong emotional engagement.  Such schools provide a context in which the family and social group dynamics overlap with those of the school, and create rich and challenging emotional realities.

Owners’ identities are closely tied to their school, and their reputations and social identities are connected directly and inextricably to their school. 

Both emotional stress and satisfaction are closely tied to the owners’ engagement, especially when owners are active in governance and/or management of their school.  Baron (2008) asserts that “it is now widely accepted that the boundaries between family and the firm are blurred in family business, and that emotions flow back and forth, ultimately affecting how the firm conducts its activities.”

This consultant has observed the role that emotions play in decision-making and in the social dynamics of a school through his involvement with a highly-successful school in Central America, owned jointly by several individuals; each of whom was actively engaged in the school’s governance and operation.  The emotional and affective connection between these owners and their school clearly influenced emotions, behaviors, social relationships, communication flow, and decision-making in the school.

Unlike schools owned by entities such as foundations, parent associations, churches, and other entities, in which there is often a regular rotation of key leaders and employees, in privately-owned schools (especially those owned by families), issues cannot be resolved simply by separation and having key figures move on and be replaced.  Owners who choose to be active in their schools, are bound together, obliged to deal with the emotional and inter-personal challenges that invariably come, often without the option of moving on to another enterprise.

Family-owned and other privately-owned schools have unique cultures and distinctions, which add to the richness of the non-public school community and the variety of options available in the marketplace.  These cultures and distinctives often reflect the essence of the personalities, emotions, and uniqueness of the owners themselves.

©2018 David A. Wells, Ed.D.