Posts Tagged: Money
From a missionary serving in Africa:
- Please do not fill a box with toys. While your child in America would love the latest Barbie, or matchbox car, children overseas do not need, want or know what to do with these toys. Most of your toys will end up in the garbage heap or as household decorations.
- Focus on filling your shoe box with school supplies and hygiene items. I realize school supplies and hygiene items aren't very glamorous, however, they are actually needed and wanted. Combs, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, etc will go a long ways in helping to provide for a family. Children at least in Northern Ghana love blue and red Bic pens.
- Involve your children. Take your children along with you as you fill a box. Teach them about the importance of giving. Operation Christmas Child is a great way to teach your child about the Nations. Help them to realize that the world is bigger than their school, neighborhood, city, state and nation.
- Fill your shoe box with a new shirt, hat (no Duke hats), and a pair of sunglasses. Remember most places overseas are closer to the equator and most children do not have adequate protection from the sun. Most children own their school uniform and one other shirt, an extra shirt even just a plain colored one will make a child’s day.
- Write a note and provide a picture of your family in your shoe box. Most children who receive a shoe box have had very little interaction with white people. A note/picture will go a long way in making a child’s Christmas. Include in your note a prayer of blessing for the child and his/her family.
- Follow the instructions when filling your shoe box. Instructions can be found on Samaritans purses's web site (How to fill your box). Do not think you know better than Samaritans Purse. They have been filling shoe boxes for a long time and have it down to a science; a lot of headache can be avoided if you follow their instructions.
- Pray over your shoe box. Pray when filling your shoe box. Pray before going shopping for your shoe box. Pray while shopping for your shoe box. Pray when mailing your shoe box. Pray over your box.
- Operation Christmas Child is a great way to open your eyes to the Nations and others who are less fortunate. Do not stop with only filling a shoe box. Consider purchasing a goat, mosquito nets, etc to help serve a family or a community this year. Here is a link to a site which will help you better impact others this Christmas (Baptist Global Response)
Read the whole thing here.
Richard Stupart lists what he believes are the seven worst international aid ideas:
1. One Million T-Shirts for Africa
2. TOMS Buy-One-Give-One
3. Machine Gun Preacher
4. 50 Cent Ransoming Children in Somalia
5. Donor Fund Restrictions
6. Making Food Aid and the Same Color as Cluster Munitions
7. Making USAID a Foreign Policy Tool
Read the whole thing here for an explanation of each one.
I have worked closely with the finances of TLI since it’s inception and have learned
quite a bit about non-profit management. One of those things is donor and donation
management. What I want to do in this post is help all of you who donate to your church
or non-profit to maximize the amount of money that is actually being used toward
the mission or the organization you want to support.
Four Simple Rules
- If you are supporting an evangelical organization, they really should be part of the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability.This ensures the organization has
taken a pledge to financial integrity. The organization might also have a rating from
Before giving to a non-profit, check their 990 form. This is a public form that should be
posted on the organization's website and if not can still be found elsewhere on the internet. This will let
you know how much money is actually going to the mission of the organization. You
might be surprised to know how bad some organizations are in terms of how they spend their money. Check out this list of
organizations that spent millions of dollars in raising money and almost none on
fulfilling their intended mission.
Make sure the person recording the donations is not the same person that is writing
the checks. Most non-profits practice this, but churches are not aware of the risk they
take in a person controlling the money count and expenditures. A church can do itself
a big favor by dividing up these jobs.
- If you write anything on the memo line of a check, it does not count as a tax-
deductible donation. The reason - you are restricting the gift. Now - you can tell the
organization where you want it to go, and they should honor your request, but in order
to receive a tax-deduction you must allow the organization to have complete control
over your gift.
I have broken down a chart with five different ways to give and be receipted. There are more, but these
are the most frequent ways people support the organizations they love. I will admit that there are some unmentioned variables here. Still - this
is 99% of the time this is an accurate assessment.
Ways to Give and be Receipted
Option 1 - You mail in a check and are receipted by mail
Option 2 - You mail in a check and are receipted by email
Option 3 - You give online via credit card and are receipted by mail
Option 4 - You give online via credit card and are receipted by email
Option 5 - You give online via ACH and are receipted by mail
Donation Amount - Amount you give.
Personal Cost - The cost to you to give the gift.
Bank Fee - The cost charged to the organization to take your donation (3% for
Credit Cards and $.75 for ACH transactions).
Org. Time - The amount of time it takes the organization to process your receipt.
Org. Cost - The amount of money it takes the organization to process your
Donation Received - What the organization receives.
Breaking it Down
If you give by check in the mail (Option 1) you have to spend money on a stamp and
envelope. There is no bank fee, but because you want a receipt via mail, the church or non-profit has to
print one and send it in a stamped envelope. We also have to pay someone to do all of
the labor to get you a receipt.
You can see by the chart that if you would give the organization you support your email
address, it saves the organization the cost of paper, envelopes, stamps and labor to
send you a receipt. Think how much this adds up over time if you give monthly. You
might think that you should give by check and get an email receipt, but the labor costs of opening your letter and manually entering in the data and then taking it to the bank offset any advantage that may have.
Let’s turn to online giving. Should you give by credit card or ACH? Credit card fees are
roughly 3%, but can be higher if you use reward cards or American Express.
Donations via ACH are usually $.75 per transaction. So - if you are giving $25 via credit
card (Option 4) or ACH (Option 6), the organization will receive the same amount of
money, but anything over that and giving via ACH maximizes your donation.
So what’s the most cost effective way to give? Support your organization via ACH
donations and ask for your receipts by email.
Let me add one more thing to emphasize this even more. If you are supporting an
organization monthly, giving by check in the mail is the worst way to give, unless you
are very disciplined. The amount of time we have to spend as a medium-sized non-profit
to follow up with donors who forget to send their check or write something in the memo line underscores the
issue. What if I told you that about 10% of a missionaries pledged support from people
who give by checks is never received, not because the donor is not committed, but
because they just forget. And what if I told you we spend five hours a week tracking down people because they did not submit the check correctly.
One Thought to Muddle The Whole Thing
Though it is clearly cheaper for an organization to receive your donation online and
receipt you online, I want to add that I am a little conflicted about giving automated gifts online to your local
The offertory is not just a time to hear a nice song. It is an act of worship. In handing
over the money our family has earned, we are visibly telling God and ourselves that the
money does not belong to us. To physically put a check or cash into the plate is
worship. We rob ourselves of that in giving mindlessly through automated giving. And as
a Dad with small children, there is never a moment in church where they physically see
me supporting the church by declaring my money is not my own. That doesn’t mean I
can’t explain online giving to them, but that doesn’t mean I am still not conflicted.
Be generous. For most of us who want all of our $$ to count, don’t use your credit card.
Don’t write a check. Don’t ask to be mailed a receipt. Go for ACH and email.
An interesting report on America's Worst Charities
was just released by the Tampa Bay Times. It ranks charities based on how much they spent on fundraising vs. what actually went toward fulfilling their mission. Below are the rankings.
Anthony Bradley at the Acton Institute Blog writes:
The second-hand clothing industry in parts of Africa is big business. In fact, many charities receive substantial revenue from the sale of this clothes. Why buy a t-shirt for 10 dollars when you can buy one for 32 cents? These trends should come as no surprise to Americans because consignment shops and thrift stores are plentiful. However, the difference is that in many parts of Africa second-hand clothing is the primary means of buying clothes and is, therefore, inadvertently stifling the growth of local African economies. Sadly, charities are playing a role in killing this growth.
Read the rest of the article here.
If you are interested in more articles, Philemon Yong has written a post on hurting the church in Romania.
Here are some interesting statistics from chapter 1 of Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (And How to Reverse It)
- Africa has recieved $1 trillion in benevolent aid in the last 50 year and per-capita income is now lower, life expectancy has stagnated and adult literacy is lower.
- 85% of aid money flowing to African countries never reaches the targeted areas of need.
- U.S. missions teams who rushed to Honduras to help rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Mitch spent on average $30K per home - homes locals could have built for $3K each.
- The money spent by one campus ministry to cover the costs of their Central American mission trip to repaint an orphanage would have been enough to hire two local painters and two new full-time teachers and purchase new uniforms for every student in the school.