Butterfly Effect – part 1

I never used to care about the economy. It was too big of a thing to affect me and my little world. Regardless of what went on in that big world, I still went to school, and I still worked at my job. I didn’t read the newspaper or get into current events. I didn’t care about proposed legislation or announcements from the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. All of that was about someone else far away. It didn’t affect my daily routine.

So now I work for God’s Kids helping orphans across the world, and I’m beginning to believe in the plausibility of the butterfly effect – that small changes in one place can cause much larger consequences somewhere else. This is not a complete definition for you physics sticklers.

Let me explain where I’m going with this. We all know that the housing market has deteriorated, and the whole sub-primeTina loan thing has hurt a lot of people in the sub-prime loan business. I fully expect a weak sub-prime loan economy to hurt sub-prime loan business people. But let me tell you how it’s affecting a little girl named Tina living in Liberia.

Sheila Reed - Director of Hebron HomeTina is about three years old and she lives at Hebron Home with about a dozen other orphaned kids. We send money every month to Hebron Home so that Sheila, the director of the home, can buy the kids food, pay her rent, and send the kids to school. I don’t think 3-year-old Tina gives a rip about the sub-prime loan business. But the ministry that pays for her food and shelter every month is corporately sponsored by a company that relies on new home construction.

So when new home construction takes a dive in Southern California, our corporate sponsor takes a hit, and when our corporate sponsors take a hit, we take a hit. And if we don’t find a way to make up what we’ve lost, well, Tina might feel the effects of a bad housing market in Southern California.

It’s a weird thing to me and maybe I’m being dramatic, but it’s all true. We were doing great when the housing market was strong and our primary corporate sponsor had a big black number at the bottom of their P&L statements. Now our primary corporate sponsor, like every other company in the housing industry, has a different shade of ink on their reports, and our orphan ministry is concentrating on getting lean until the economy picks up.

This morning I heard a news report that the analysts are forecasting a different consumer shopping pattern this year because of the economy. If consumers are shopping differently, they will very likely give donations differently. What’s that going to mean for Tina?

I’ll get into that next time.

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6 Responses to “Butterfly Effect – part 1”

  1. jilldekkers Says:

    Good post, Mark!

  2. It means that some people will think about how we’re tightening our own belts and think about those that don’t HAVE belts to tighten. While I may give fewer gifts to my own friends and family, my time and financial contributions will most likely remain the same. Let’s hope everyone else feels that way and those that have it to give, give freely!

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  4. […] We’ve been counting on December to be a great month for us, but this has been a tough year for the economy and non-profits like ours are feeling the effects. This USA Today article about charities struggling this year supports what I’m feeling. The bad housing market has cut into our income big time. […]

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