June 30, 2010 by Julia Wasson
Filed under Blog, Books, Community, Construction, Donations, Earthquake, Florida, Front Page, Fundraising, Haiti, Homes, Humanitarian, Nonprofits, Poverty, Slideshow, Social Action, Sustainability
There’s no doubt that Frank McKinney stands out in a crowd. His long, flowing, blond hair sets him apart from most business types he deals with. His daredevil actions put others in awe of his tolerance for risk-taking — and his successes. And his creative ways of approaching both his business and his charity work draw others to his door. Frank McKinney also knows how to market himself, his business interests, his books, and the Caring House Project Foundation (CHPF).
But everything that McKinney does these days is centered around a concept he paraphrases from the Bible: “From those to whom much is given, much will be expected.” In Part 3 of our interview, I talk with McKinney about how he puts that into action through CHPF and the homes he builds in Haiti, and about the messages he shares in his book, The Tap. — Julia Wasson, Publisher
On his Caring House Project Foundation (CHPF) web page, author Frank McKinney writes, “In The Tap, I share the most important spiritual principle of my success in the business we are all in, the business of life. I explain how God has tapped me (and taps everyone) many times in life, answering prayers and presenting life-changing opportunities.
“The Tap shows how to sensitize yourself to feel then act on your life’s great ‘Tap Moments,’ embracing the rewards and responsibilities of a blessed life.”
Caring House Project Foundation (CHPF), McKinney’s charitable creation, is the embodiment of his acting on the Tap Moments he writes about. CHPF builds homes for the poorest of the poor. And McKinney himself is responsible for raising most of the funds that sustain it.
One of his fund-raising activities includes running the Badwater Ultramarathon. Badwater is a race that he describes in The Tap as traversing “135 miles nonstop through the Death Valley desert and over three mountain ranges, all on black-top pavement.” It’s beyond grueling, and of the 90 elite athletes invited to participate from 16 countries, only 65% typically complete the two-day (or longer) race. McKinney describes one purpose for his participation (and I’m paraphrasing here) as “suffering a little for those who suffer a lot.”
The CHPF website also offers potential donors several options for supporting parts of a village, including monthly payments. Providing half the cost of a community center, for example, requires a donation of $2,292 per month for 12 months.
Or, McKinney suggests, “Let’s say you want to build a house for $2,500. A lot of people can’t afford that. So you make 12 donations of $208 per month. That was at the request of a lot of donors who said to our executive director, ‘We can’t afford a whole house. Can you cut it up into payments for us? We’ll be glad to make it a part of our monthly tithing.’”
Want to purchase an entire village? $125,000 will build 50 homes for 400 residents. Or, break it into payments of $10,417 per month for a year.
While that’s far out of reach for most of us, there are much smaller donation opportunities available. For only $11 per month for a year, you can save a single life by contributing toward a water management project. The full project (“Pumps | Wells | Storage tanks and sanitation units | thousands of lives touched”), for those with greater resources, can be funded for $36,750.
CHPF is also raising funds for earthquake relief. As the foundation’s executive director, Kimberley Trombly-Burmeister said to me, “You can’t be sustainable if you aren’t alive. The need for food, water, and sanitation is continuing long after the earthquake.”
If you’d like to support CHPF’s earthquake relief efforts, you can do so with as little as a $10 donation per month or a one-time contribution of $250, $500, or $1,000.
You can also provide shelter for an orphan for $35 a month, or build an entire orphanage for $80,000. The choices are limited only by your budget and your imagination, as CHPF offers flexible payment plans and a wide range of funding opportunities.
Survival to Thrival
There’s another, far more unusual, fundraising project that is unique to Frank McKinney. As he says, “Let me put on my other hat for a minute, my for-profit hat, my real estate hat. We came up with a very novel way to raise money for our charity. That is, we don’t do black tie events. We don’t do golf outings. We don’t do cocktail parties.
“I either sell a lot of books, and the proceeds from my book sales go to fund the charity, and it’s a wonderful source of income, or we provide experiences. We’ve had various events with names such as “Frank McKinney’s Palm Beach Experience: From Survival to Thrival.” There’s a photo at the bottom of the CHPF website that shows a group of people who were part of one of those experiences in Haiti.
“At the time, I was training to run the Badwater Ultramarathon. I wanted to show our donors and the media metaphorically that, in training for this very, very grueling race, I choose to suffer a little voluntarily for those who are suffering a lot. What I did was I ran across Haiti from a village we had just started. It was a village that had been washed out by 2008’s hurricane, and so there was the survival element. I ran to a finished village, which was 25 miles away that was representing thrival.
“And our donors got to come. First they started here in South Florida. Many of the people in that picture are business people and real estate people, and they aspire to do what I do for a living. They love coming to see the mansions. But to come to an event like that Frank McKinney Palm Beach Experience, they had to donate to build one house.
“So they’re immersed in what they think is the lifestyle of the rich and famous. They get to come to my own personal house and have dinner. They get to see the beautiful homes I’ve built over the years, even the newest house, the world’s largest and most expensive certified green home on speculation at $22.9 million. They get to see all that, and they’re so intoxicated with the sensory experience that they’re having.
“Then, within 12 hours, they’re on a plane and landing in the poorest suburb of the poorest city of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. And that is part of their experience. I wanted to move them from rich — what they think is rich — to enriched.
“There’s nothing like it out there. And I’ll tell you, to a person, when CHPF’s executive director, Kimberly, sends out a questionnaire asking, ‘How was your experience? What could we do better?’ et cetera, when 99 out of 100 come back, there’s no reference to the mansions that they saw. Everything is about what they saw in Haiti. So that picture on the website was that event, ‘From Survival to Thrival.’ All of those people in that picture were donors who helped build this village.”
A Life on Solid Footing
McKinney describes his own journey from “rich to enriched,” in his book, The Tap, the proceeds from which benefits his Caring House Project Foundation. It’s an inspiring read that encourages reflection on what is most important in life. Recognizing — and acting upon — what McKinney calls Tap Moments is a large part of the message of the book. But there are other messages as well.
As the author describes in detail the monumental effort it took to run his first three Badwater 135-mile Ultramarathons, he uses his failures and successes to remind readers that we all have the power to change the course we’re on. Here’s a paragraph I found particularly meaningful in the last chapter of the book:
Remember that any of life’s meaningful endeavors follows a course not unlike the physical trials I’ve described to you in this chapter. Think about your relationships, your professional pursuits, your beliefs or philosophy of living, your engagement now with The Tap — anything that you consider important. You probably started out with a kind of giddy infatuation, and in time, you started to encounter difficulties. If you had the discipline and endurance to stick with it, you learned the invaluable lessons of how to deal with those difficulties. You now realize that more of the challenges that you face are created in your mind than in reality, and that this is where you have the most power to change things. Your fears can grip you, or you can overcome them. You can let their hold on you grow tighter, or you can face them and break free. You can succumb to self-doubt and perish, or you can find a way out and flourish.
Frank McKinney’s life looks glamorous — and parts of it surely are. He builds homes for some of the world’s wealthiest people. He has the experience most of us will never know of being surrounded by luxury and incredible beauty as he walks through the homes he’s built.
But his daily life belies the image. He lives in a relatively modest home that he shares with his wife, Nilsa. His 20-year marriage, he says, is sound, his relationship with his daughter, enviable. This man who holds up Evel Knievel, Willy Wonka and Robin Hood as heroes, takes risks, both in business and in life; yet his personal life appears to be on a solid footing. He seems to have figured out how to achieve and maintain a balanced life. And he shares that knowledge in The Tap.
“The Tap teaches the reader to try to dovetail the professional and the spiritual highest calling,” McKinney says. “The Tap is my first spiritual, inspirational book. And I think because its message is so simple, it’s doing really well. As it does well, so does our charity benefit.”
The Tap, as well as McKinney’s four other bestselling books are available on his website, at local bookstores, or by ordering from Amazon. I found The Tap to be an interesting and enjoyable read filled with uncommon wisdom. Though I’ve not yet read McKinney’s other books, if they are anything like The Tap, they will be well worth reading. I encourage you to read The Tap, then share it with others; it’s a message worth passing on.
The Small Print
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End of Part 3
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