In November NLC member Carl Wall and I had a chance to sit down and talk about the milestone of funding 1,000 wells for World Vision through a non-profit where he shares a leadership role in Fargo, ND called Wellspring for the World. In the interview he shared his personal story that is very much like many of our NLC members. It reminded me of how effective local people can be in the mission to help lift children and families from poverty, when they step out of their comfort zone and allow God to lead. This is Carl’s story.
In 2005 Carl Wall was invited to join the Board of the non-profit Wellspring for the World. He told them he was not interested. Then four years later his oldest daughter, Steph invited him to go on Vision Trip with his Grandson Sam to Zambia and Kenya. Again, he was not interested, but he couldn’t say no to her. So, Carl went as a skeptic to see why people who do go on these trips become so passionate about helping the poor. To his surprise, while in Africa, he discovered a culture full of love and compassion, and left with an understanding of the impact people could have, just by helping to provide a very basic need…clean water.
When Carl got back to the states he asked if the invitation to be on the Board of Wellspring was still good, and soon became actively involved. In the first eight years the organization completed 64 wells. Then another Board member Darold Rath asked for volunteers to join a task force with the idea to begin the first campaign in Wellspring’s history. The goal was to go from 64 wells to 100 wells in just 15 months.
Darold had been dealing with stage 4 kidney cancer for 7-8 years, but seemed to be doing well; however, a week after that first task force meeting, he was told the cancer had spread throughout his body and he had only 4-6 weeks to live. When Carl visited Darold in his hospital room during the last week of his life, he felt the Lord’s spirit in both promising Darold to complete those 100 wells, as well as knowing that he would be taking the leadership position in making that promise to Darold actually happen.
Darold sadly passed away, but Carl was determined to help bring his vision to life. At Darold’s celebration of life, Carl wrote down the names of the many influential people sitting in the church pews. Later he contacted them to ask about allowing Wellspring to use their names in serving on the Cabinet of the Darold’s Dream campaign; everyone said yes without any reservation, even if they knew little or nothing about Wellspring, as Darold was greatly admired by everyone.
Wellspring – Park Rapids Chapter Leaders celebrating cash donations totaling one million dollars.
The campaign was very successful, in part because the 30 names on the back of the brochure were recognizable leaders in the Fargo area. Wellspring finished with 155 wells completed!
Hoping not to lose connections with those influential members, Carl knew they needed a well-known person to attend the celebration event to attract them to attend. Rich Stearns, President of World Vision US, was a perfect choice. Carl flew to Chicago to have a meeting with him.
Rich seemed like he had already decided he would support the celebration event and go to Fargo before he even heard Carl’s prepared pitch about coming. He not only wanted to celebrate with the group, but he wanted to challenge them to greater levels of fundraising with a new campaign…for 1,000 wells!
As Carl was taking Rich to the airport the morning after the celebration event, Rich remarked, “World Vision needs 100 Wellsprings.” He saw the effectiveness of local people being organized to encourage their friends and neighbors to invest in bringing clean water to people across an ocean.
That celebration event and the 1,000 Well Goal was the beginning of a wonderful culture change for Wellspring, both for its volunteer leaders and its donor base. Every gift remained important to Wellspring, but instead of receiving just 4-figure gifts or less, the bar moved up and they began to get 5-figure and 6-figure gifts with the introduction of 5-year pledging and numerous one on one meetings with donors.
Carl truly disliked fund raising until a casual visit with the President of the college from which he graduated and later served on the Board of Regents for 10 years. Carl asked him how he had the ability to dare ask many of his best friends for such significant, sacrificial gifts to the college. His response changed Carl’s outlook on fund raising. He said, “because I know how very important it is for their well-being to learn to enjoy the act of giving, I would not be a true friend if I didn’t strongly encourage them to make sacrificial gifts.” After that visit, it was easy to tell the Wellspring story and to make a formal invitation of a specific dollar amount to friends, relatives or anyone else.
Carl’s daughter, Steph, who invited him on his first Vision Trip remarked that her Dad had 3 full careers: 1) a successful basketball coach for 13 years 2) a financial advisor with Merrill Lynch for 34 years and 3) a passionate volunteer fundraiser for Wellspring for 10 years and counting; she added that this 3rd career was the most important; hearing her say that only inspired Carl to be better at it.
Carl and Carol, Steph and Henry with Benedicta in Ghana.
On a later visit to Steph’s house, Carl’s 10-year-old grandson, Henry, had a friend from school visiting. Henry introduced his grandpa to his friend, and then Carl went into the other room. Steph heard Henry’s friend ask him what his Grandpa did, and Henry simply responded, “He saves people’s lives.” Hearing Henry had said that, only inspired Carl to be better at doing just that.
Steph was right; this third career of serving as Wellspring’s primary fund raiser has been the most important to Carl, as he consistently experiences the joy of helping others secure the most basic element in our world – clean water.
Carl and Carol Wall are members of the National Leadership Council. Carl can be reached at email@example.com.
You can learn more about Wellspring for the World on their website http://www.wellspringfortheworld.org/
Visit Wellspring on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/wellspringfortheworld.