January 2015

Where did your donation go?

January 27 2015 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

Near the end of 2014 you and I were pummeled with phone calls, emails and letters that asked us to give to a specific cause or organization. Although the intensity increases the last two months of every year, the pleas for financial help extend all year long. You can count on it.

Did you respond to that appeal with a check or credit card donation? Do you have any idea where your money went? How much of your gift actually reached the charity?

Professional fundraisers know that certain words are hot buttons to the ears of donors. The mention of “cancer” raises a lot of money – even more if the words “children” or “women” are connected. The cause of “wounded soldiers” brings in the money.

Images of starving people and abused animals prompt a strong response from good-hearted Americans. They are all worthy causes, but have you ever wondered what percentage of your dollars actually reaches the intended organization?

If the cause is worthy of public support, the dollars should reach the desired goal. There should be accountability to the donor, so every contributor can feel confident that each gift has been used according to his or her wishes.

I want to call attention to a 700 page report, funded by your N.C. tax dollars, that brings a measure of accountability to public fundraisers. It might influence where and how you give.
 

Elaine F. Marshall, North Carolina’s Secretary of State, published “Charitable Solicitation Licensing Division Annual Report, July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014.” Most residents of our state will never read the lengthy report. But every donor should know what it says, even if you consider your contributions to be small.

The report identifies every registered professional solicitor and the organization(s) they represent. It does not specify whether the donations came through mail solicitations or telephone appeals.

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The opening paragraph ought to catch your attention. Marshall introduces the report with the following summary. Text in bold is my emphasis, not that of the report:

“The Annual Report includes financial information related only to those charities using a professional fundraiser and otherwise required by law to register with the Department of the Secretary of State. This year, I am disheartened to report a continuing trend of fewer dollars overall being donated to charity and less money from each dollar raised via a professional fundraiser going to the actual charity.

“This year, North Carolinians responded to solicitations from professional fundraisers in the amount of $21,437,796. Of those donated dollars, only $9,001,684 went directly to the charity for which the campaign was being conducted, resulting in an average 41.99% return to the charity for each dollar donated. In contrast, national solicitation campaigns that included North Carolina citizens that were reported to our office reflected $297,229,969 in gross dollars donated, with only $110,867,052, or 37.30% of each donated dollar going to the charitable organization. Giving is down drastically this year both nationally and in North Carolina.”

The chart on this page provides sample illustrations directly from Marshall’s report.

The sample illustrations are from a variety of organizations and show the donor receiving from zero to 96 percent of funds raised. I hope it motivates you to view the full report online.

Generosity is a good thing. The Bible gives strong teaching on wise stewardship and intentional generosity.

How do you determine the value of the organizations and ministries you support? Maybe we need to ask these questions before we write that check:

  1. Is the money going to the organization and cause I want to support?

  2. Does the organization have a credible accountability system in place? Who serves on the board of directors?

  3. Does the organization have a biblical purpose and/or does it practice biblical values?

When I answer these questions, I lean heavily toward supporting the local church and the ministries my church   supports. It is my conviction that when I give to the local church or to specific causes through the church where I am a member, I am confident the gift will reach the intended cause.

Less will be spent on fundraising and more dollars will reach the point of need.

I know that gifts to my local church will be used for ministries that are consistent with my belief system. Furthermore, gifts to other ministries THROUGH my church have greater accountability.

Cooperative Program (CP) gifts and contributions to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions (LMCO) will reach overseas mission fields. Last year 84.45 percent of all gifts to the International Mission Board (IMB) were spent in overseas missionary support.

A mere 15.55 percent of all funds were used in fundraising, promotion and administration of the organization’s work.

IMB reports that 100 percent of all LMCO gifts are spent in international missionary support.

CP dollars through the local church and gifts to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions will reach the intended mission fields of North America.

According to their 2013 financial report 1.8 percent of the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) 2013 income was spent on fundraising. Combined administrative and fundraising expenses totaled 15.9 percent while 84.1 percent of all NAMB receipts were invested in church planting, missionary support, evangelism, relief ministries and leadership/volunteer training.

The boards of Baptist ministries are not self-perpetuating.

They are accountable to local churches and elected by Baptists like you from local churches. We have a voice in choosing who serves on the boards of IMB, NAMB, our seminaries, the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina, the Biblical Recorder and many other Baptist governing bodies.

I am not implying that we should only support Baptist causes or that we should not support any of the causes in Marshall’s report. My comments serve only as a caution and an exhortation to be wise when you give.

As believers our priority should be a healthy investment in the ministries of the local church.

Personally, my wife and I give the Lord’s tithe to the church of our membership. In addition we give to special offerings throughout the year and para-church ministries. We also give to worthy causes like cancer research and care projects.

Each of us will be counted among the wise if we examine biblical principles of stewardship and apply those truths to our personal patterns of giving. Before you respond to requests from other causes, learn more about how they will use your gift.

1/27/2015 10:23:34 AM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments



Humans, we have a problem

January 13 2015 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

I have a book in my library titled, History’s Worst Decisions and the People Who Made Them. It is not a religious book, but interestingly, the first chapter is titled, “In the beginning Adam and Eve.” Stephen Weir, the author, follows the first couple’s disastrous decision with 49 chapters that identify very bad choices made by leaders in business, politics and religion.
 
Each choice was a demonstration of the sin of mankind. Without a doubt, the trite, often repeated phrase, “Man is basically good,” has no intelligent basis in fact.
 
Today, world news is not good. The forces of evil are screaming the message of hate louder and louder. The message exposes a lethal hatred of God; hatred of God’s chosen people, the Jewish people; hatred of God’s adopted people, the Christians; hatred of authority, especially law enforcement; hatred of people of other races and hatred of God’s holy standards.
 
The curse of sin shows up in terrorism, pornography, abortion, adultery, homosexuality, robbery, deception, lying and every other sin against God and man. The curse works to destroy unity in marriages, churches and friendships. It yields the ultimate result of sin, which is death.
 
There will be a time when the curse of sin will be gone, according to the last chapter of the Bible. Revelation 22:3a says, “And there shall be no more curse....
 
Until that time, we deal with it every second of every day. Sin is in the headlines, in our neighborhoods and in our hearts.
 
No amount of education will eliminate it. Neither progress nor progressivism will erase sin. Politicians will never defeat it. Business will never buy it out. Government will never legislate it out of existence. The Good News we confidently embrace as followers of Jesus Christ is stated in Galatians 3:13: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us, for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.’
 
In the Old Testament animals were sacrificed as payment for sin, but the sacrificial system was not complete. It was an annual, short-term solution for man’s sin problem. Then Christ, the perfect Lamb, closed the door on the Old Testament, fulfilling God’s promise of a Savior. Now we have a New Testament – a new, eternal solution. Grace and truth have been demonstrated to all of the world in Jesus.
 
Without Christ, there would be no hope. But hope is alive in those of us who are called Christians. We have a personal God. Paul described our God in Ephesians 3:20 as One “Who is able to exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think.” He is able to defeat hatred, terrorism, abortion, rebellion and all other wicked forces that appear to be in charge of history at the moment.
 
World governments seem to be uniquely qualified to display evil. Examine the governments of despots like Germany’s Hitler, China’s Mao, Russia’s Stalin, Cambodia’s Pol Pot and now North Korea’s current dynasty of Kim Jong-Il and son.
 
Study governments by the dozens who have promoted abortion, genocide, slavery, poverty and racial warfare. Many still advance those godless agendas.
 
But government’s God-designed purpose is to limit the spread of evil. Its role is to provide an environment for good to prosper and evil to be destroyed.
 
Statutes of a civilized society will demonstrate moral soundness, unlike the immoral legislation rolling out of the legislative bodies of our own nation.
 
Sadly, the philosophy of many present leaders is to control the personal lives of citizens and impose the state religion of humanism or similar man-centered, man-made religions on wary citizens.
 
Newly invented “rights” are hailed as modern remedies to our social problems. Abortion is a devastating example.
 
This week, as we look back on more than 40 years of abortion “rights” and the slaughter of 55 million innocent children, pray for the defeat of the curse of sin in our land and the defeat of every elected official who wishes to continue America’s shameful holocaust.

1/13/2015 10:50:33 AM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments