Leslie Doll and her husband Bob took many teams on annual mission trips to a Moroccan orphanage. They enjoyed this work—one thing the couple shares is a profound desire to bless others—but the short-term nature of the trips limited ongoing involvement. The Dolls didn’t want to simply give God’s money to an organization, read a monthly newsletter, and move on. They wanted to be truly and deeply engaged with their charitable work in the Middle East. “I wanted to see the impact firsthand,” Leslie remembers. “We were giving to great ministries, but there was no involvement in my life, and it felt empty.”
They made attempts to support ministries in Morocco, but cultural barriers hampered connections and limited giving opportunities.
“We really tried to understand the emerging church and Muslim-background believers,” Leslie explains. “But no one trusted us. And we didn’t really trust anyone either. We didn’t have the relationships or the knowledge.”
Leslie began to feel discouraged. She had a background in international business and a philanthropic heart. As for Bob, he was a self-described “business guy,” a Wharton School graduate who regularly appeared on CNBC, Bloomberg TV, and Fox Business News to discuss the economy and financial markets. With decades of experience managing mutual funds, he had advanced to the role of senior portfolio manager and chief equity strategist for the global investment firm Nuveen. The two saw their combination of business acumen and financial success as a call not only to give, but to give strategically and with wisdom.
And on paper, they were uniquely qualified to respond to such a call. They knew how much attention to detail large investment portfolios required, and they had been to the Middle East many times. Yet they couldn’t seem to identify trustworthy, high-impact opportunities for investing their resources in Great Commission efforts—ministries and initiatives that prioritized the proclamation of the gospel message, discipleship, leadership development, and church formation. “There was no avenue to give sizable resources to ministry in Morocco,” Leslie says. “I was at a point of maximum frustration.”
Finding a family of stewards
In 2010, Leslie found herself seated next to Paul Schultheis at a fundraiser in New York City. They chatted all through the fundraiser, at which Bob was speaking, and Schultheis shared the vision behind a newly formed organization that consolidated and strategically deployed large gifts to under-resourced places, mobilizing and directing people, prayer, and financial resources to key churches and ministries.
Their geographical area of focus? The Greater Middle East. The name of the organization? Strategic Resource Group (SRG).
“I’ll never forget—on the ride home, we talked very little about the fundraiser,” Bob recalls, noting that Leslie left her conversation with Schultheis sure that SRG was just what she and Bob had been searching for year after frustrating year. “She told me over and over, ‘I think I found it! I think I found it!’”
By 2011, the Dolls had become SRG resource partners. “Bob runs mutual funds,” Leslie says, outlining the basics of her husband’s job. “Mutual-fund investors pool their money, and Bob buys the stocks for various portfolios. And that is exactly how SRG is run. SRG is a partnership of 30–35 families, foundations, and churches that pool their funds and invest in a portfolio of kingdom ministries in 22 countries of the Greater Middle East, including Pakistan. It really is right up our alley.” Joining SRG and being able to partner with other high-net-worth givers who think in similar terms has been like finding family.
SRG offers hands-on involvement in the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan. As a result, the Dolls have invested heavily in local, indigenous churches and ministry organizations. Leslie often travels to assess, encourage, and assist ministry partners in areas where many people may fear to go.
She visited Iraq after key towns and villages were liberated by ISIS. She also visited Beirut right after the August 4, 2020, explosion. “It was really powerful, because the beautiful Beirut I’d known was decimated,” Leslie says. “It wasn’t just the city and buildings; it was people’s lives that were devastated.”
“We met with many of our partners to help put windows in and doors back on. They were telling us how courageous we were to come during the COVID-19 pandemic. But no, they’re the courageous ones: they are putting their lives back together. The government is doing very little—the Muslim community is doing nothing. But the church is doing something, and that’s not lost on people. God will unmistakably draw people to himself.”
“We take stewardship very seriously,” Leslie says in conclusion. “Nothing that Bob and I have is ours; it all belongs to God. There is a huge responsibility—that stewardship of his resources. And we want to have the highest kingdom impact possible, because God has entrusted us with these ‘talents,’ and he wants us to invest wisely, with a high return.”
A shared commitment
Jeff Latture, a senior vice president at Barnhart, has long shared the Dolls’ belief that all resources belong to God. He and his fellow executives at Barnhart see their business as a “Great Commission giving machine.” Rather than keeping the wealth of the company as their personal property, the owners have put the business in a trust with the National Christian Foundation.
“The company is owned by God,” says Latture. “We are stewards, not owners.”
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Latture traveled to the Middle East every year on behalf of Barnhart’s giving efforts. Like the Dolls, he was looking for a scalable ministry or church to invest in, one that he could recommend Barnhart fund.
Also like the Dolls, Latture had trouble finding the right opportunities.
Then, in 2005, Latture heard about Strategic Resource Group, an investment pool that operated like a ministry mutual fund. It was an opportunity to build real relationships with churches and ministries in the Middle East.
The group’s mission appealed to Latture. “But what I wanted to know was, does it really work?”
After his own due diligence on SRG, Latture recommended Barnhart invest with SRG on a trial basis, committing a sum of $35,000. He asked SRG to show him everything they could discover about a particular Egyptian ministry Latture had encountered but was struggling to understand.
SRG passed Latture’s test and won him over—“they found so much more than I could ever find on my own,” he recalls—and in 2006, Latture attended the first Strategic Resource Group Middle East Summit in London, UK. The shared desire for Great Commission giving, responsible stewardship, and collaborative participation resonated with him more deeply than any other funding opportunity.
“I went back to the Barnhart board and said we should fund SRG,” Latture says. “My next request was $1 million. It was shocking. We’d never given that much to one group. But they said yes.”
Over the next few years, Latture traveled to the Middle East several times with Schultheis, other resource partners, and SRG portfolio consultants, exploring the region and meeting ministry leaders on the ground. With SRG, “you join a community and have instant access to knowledge, introductions, research, and relationships,” Latture explains.
This rich expertise equips SRG to help dozens of kingdom investors target their giving to achieve maximum impact. Latture describes this learning experience as phenomenal, and he credits this process with deepening his understanding of the Middle East. He also learned from strategic thinkers like Schultheis, people who occupied the same high-capacity-giving space and had been giving to the region for years.
Determining level of involvement
Rick Graf, president and chief executive officer of Pinnacle Living, a leading property management company, and his wife, Linda, were thinking about their financial legacy when they met Schultheis, who told them about Strategic Resource Group. It didn’t take long for Rick to move from intrigued to involved.
Graf recognizes SRG as an organization where he can contribute more than just financially: it gives him an opportunity to share his business acumen and offers a community of high-capacity givers who are asking similar questions about principles of stewardship, generosity, and the kingdom impact of giving. It allows personal involvement, not just professional investment.
Graf relishes the opportunity to develop friendships with fellow givers and, more importantly, with indigenous ministry partners and those whom they serve. Over the years, he has had the honor of hearing heartfelt conversion stories: for example, a group of Middle Eastern men all had the same dream on the same night, in which Jesus came to them, prompting them to consider the gospel and become Christians.
Friendships, travel, and access to dozens of Middle East ministries serve as gateways to SRG. “And then,” Latture says, “you can go as far as you want in getting involved.”
For people like Latture, the Grafs, and the Dolls, “as far as you want” is pretty far. Latture has gone on to become chair of the board of SRG and serves as a managing partner. Graf, too, has become a managing partner. Bob Doll loves reviewing the organization’s successes and strategizing for the years ahead at the biennial gatherings of resource partners and ministry partners.
And Leslie Doll is all in. She serves on the Kingdom Investment Committee where she advises on macro allocations of funds, and she also regularly travels to touch base with partners. On one trip to the Iraqi city of Mosul during the last days of the liberation, she walked through ISIS tunnels wearing body armor. She has contributed to art therapy programs for Yazidi refugees. One group of 15-year-old girls painted the horrors they had witnessed: women in chains and men being beheaded. ISIS had ravaged their homes, murdered their loved ones, and had taken many of the girls themselves into slavery. “This was their expression of what had happened,” Leslie explains. “This was their therapy. Through their church, we provided art supplies so they could continue to process.” The depth of Leslie’s connection to these girls? “I’m going back to see them soon.”
Leslie’s extraordinary commitment of time and money is appreciated, as are any and all commitments resource partners are willing and able to make. “If people choose to fund SRG’s kingdom investments in the Greater Middle East, we hope they will engage more deeply,” Latture says, “but they don’t have to. We’re here to serve those who may be in a season of life that limits their capacity for greater involvement.”
Sometimes, that service takes the form of accepting a check and investing it. Other times, it looks like on-site work in areas that are historically hostile to the gospel and to Christians. But always, as Schultheis puts it, it involves “solving stewardship problems for people who have a lot of money but feel paralyzed when trying to make wise, high-impact giving decisions or who simply lack the time to engage in the giving partnership.”
For the Dolls, Lattures, and Grafs, SRG’s three-pronged approach of strategic thinking, engaged relationships with ministries, and high administrative standards through due diligence, accountability, vetting, and reporting meets a need they all experienced. Eager to give to gospel efforts in the Middle East through careful stewardship, they looked for a community ready to receive not only their funds but their faithfulness in many forms. Now, they’ve joined a group of people—across North America, Europe, and the Middle East—who value them as collaborators, friends, and trusted peers. It’s like Leslie told Bob: they’ve finally found it.