When John Pitzaferro, TransNational’s CEO, approached Willow Creek Community Church, his home church, in 2005, with an offer to extend bankcard processing services for his costs, he was met with skepticism and disbelief. Eventually, John was able to convince the financial leaders to more closely examine his offer. Upon analysis, those leaders found that John’s offer would save them $70,000 a year! Willow Creek switched to TransNational soon after.
The experience and interaction with Willow weighed heavily on John and the rest of the leadership of TransNational. They become increasingly concerned that the profits being gleaned from financial transaction fees of ministries was inhibiting efficacy and sustainability of those programs across the country. In every instance that TransNational became aware of, faith based not-for-profit organizations and ministries were profit making accounts for those who were doing their processing.
In 2008, John was attending a Willow Creek Community Church service, when he heard the story of a man whose business was drilling wells. In the winter months, when drilling ceased here in the Midwest area of the US, this man took his business to Africa and drilled wells for free. The story profoundly impacted John, even to a point where he found himself jealous that he didn’t have a well business. However, a previous desire to offer the services of his company to faith based not for profit ministries without margin was reignited. In 2009, John officially launched the Benevolence Program of TransNational, hiring a former Willow Creek employee to oversee the development of the program. Coincidently, that employee’s responsibilities at Willow Creek were tied to helping coordinate the Celebration of Hope Campaign that funded numerous well projects in Africa in the spring of 2009.