Wall Watchers had its genesis in the early 1990s, when founders Howard "Rusty" Leonard and his wife Carolynn first entertained the idea of starting a Christian ministry aimed at bringing improved levels of disclosure and accountability to Christian ministries.
In the course of giving to a number of Christian ministries, Rusty and Carol felt the need to better fulfill their own stewardship responsibilities and began requesting basic financial information from the ministries they supported. For Rusty, at the time a portfolio manager for a large investment management firm, and Carol, an accountant, this seemed like a very simple request that any ministry should be happy to honor. Rather than being overwhelmed by a spirit of transparency and accountability on the part of the ministries they supported, the Leonards were shocked when ministries seemed to go out of their way to withhold financial information from them. If financially savvy donors like them had trouble getting information, they wondered, then how uninformed and ill-equipped must the average Christian donor be to exercise stewardship in this important area.
This experience corresponded to a time when they were studying the Bible. The context was of the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel and his calling to be a watchman for the house of Israel (Ez. 33:7). Along with the circumstances going on in their life at the time and their background it was as if the Lord were speaking to them through that text.
The Leonards concluded that they were being called to start an organization that would serve as a "watchman on the wall" by providing a much needed information service to Christian donors.
The Watchman symbol used by Wall Watchers is an Old Testament watchman standing on the wall of the city blowing the shofar (ram's horn). In the same way that the Watchman empowered people to act for themselves by sounding the alarm, Wall Watchers empowers people today by providing them with the information they need to make better informed giving decisions.
But Wall Watchers is more than just a Watchman, and in the same way that the shofar was used for many different purposes in the Old Testament (as a call to worship, proclaiming the presence of God, to assemble people), so to Wall Watchers goals are broader than simply sounding an alarm, and include facilitating increased giving, helping people become better stewards, and bringing donors and ministries together.
And so over time the ministry has taken on a greater scope as an information service as able with increased funding.
Wall Watchers officially got off the ground in July 1998 by incorporating as a nonprofit organization in the State of North Carolina.
Wall Watchers received recognition from the Internal Revenue Service of its tax-exempt status under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3).
Wall Watchers launched thegoodsteward.com (www.thegoodsteward.com), an educational website for equipping people with the knowledge to become better stewards.
An informational website (www.wallwatchers.org) was launched in December 1999 making Wall Watchers vision, mission and intentions more accessible to the public.
MinistryWatch.com (www.ministrywatch.com) was launched providing the donating public with access to organizational and financial profiles on nonprofit ministries in the United States.