Archive for economy

Stupid Economy Cost Me My Job!

Posted in all about me, God's Kids, Ministry, Orphan Care, Rants with tags , , on February 3, 2008 by len20

RecessionI’ve known for about a month that last Friday, Feb. 1 would be my last day at God’s Kids. Now I’m able to tell everyone publicly. To be honest, I think I was hoping that a big semi truck loaded with cash would miraculously pull up to the God’s Kids offices this month with a bewildered driver saying, “They just told me to drop it off here.”

But the truck didn’t come, and our little ministry for orphaned children is tightening it’s belt to weather this economic storm. We all knew this storm was coming. I even wrote about it in previous posts, But that doesn’t help much. I loved this job, and I’ll mourn losing it for a long time to come.

I think God’s Kids, like a lot of other ministries, is in for a rough patch, but they’ll make it through. So far, the ministry has not reduced funding for the orphanages in the field and they plan to keep it that way.

As to the future of this blog, I will probably begin writing on broader topics having to do with the health of the world’s children. As for me, if anyone needs a place to park a big semi truck loaded with cash, I know just the place.

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Is It All About the Money?

Posted in God's Kids, Ministry with tags , , , , , on December 29, 2007 by len20

I don’t know how many email coupons I’ve received this month – somewhere in the neighborhood of 47 gazillion, I think. Half of them were from Barnes and Noble alone. This is an exhausting month to be a consumer.

It’s an equally exhausting month to be a donor. Non-profits look at December with big, hungry eyes too. I know that some ministries get up to 70% of their donations in the last quarter of the year, and a majority of that comes in December. If I’ve been sent 47 gazillion coupons in my in-box, then I know I’ve received at least 64 gazillion emails from other ministries (doing great things, by the way) telling me that now is the time to give. We’re no different.

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.

I think I’m struggling to balance our fundraising needs with the feeling that sometimes we’re just adding to the noise that everyone else is making about where people should put their money. It’s hard. We sit around in staff meetings looking at the commitments we’ve made in the field and ask ourselves if we’ve done everything we can to bring in donations. The answer is usually, no. We could always send out another email blast, or mail more giving catalogs, or speak in more churches, but when is it too much? When do we reach the point of turning people off because we’re beating them over the head and they’re tired of it?

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Butterfly Effect – part 2

Posted in Current events, God's Kids, stewardship, Third World with tags , , , on November 9, 2007 by len20

Most ministries like ours gear up for the giving season in the last quarter of the year. This is when people are very likely to give to charitable organizations either because the holidays stir them to think of others, or because they want to finalize their tax deductions for the year. As I mentioned in the last post, I’m a little worried about this year’s giving season due to the less-than-stellar (downright crappy, really) economy.

Jeannine Aversa, a writer for the Associated Press writes, “Economists are worried that consumers, the main support for the economy, may cut back on their visits to the malls in coming months as they struggle with the housing slowdown, tighter credit and now record-high oil prices” (source).

If people are spending less at the malls, I think it’s guaranteed that they will send fewer dollars to charity.

While a lot of us are going to be tightening our belts at the department stores this year, we’ve got to remember, as HeatherN3Boys commented, that some people, “don’t have belts to tighten.”

I often think about the idea of giving sacrificially. When I took the job with God’s Kids and started asking people for money, my wife and I had to take a good look at what we did with our money. We started being much more deliberate with our tithing, and then giving to our selected ministries on top of that. And I think we now lean if not toward automatically saying yes to new worthy solicitations, than at least less toward automatically saying no. I’m dancing a fine hypocritical line here; we’re not the world’s perfect stewards by any stretch.

But then I think, are we really giving something up when we give – especially something we really want? Are we giving to others to the point of sacrificing something that we wanted for ourselves? That’s what giving sacrificially means, right? Is there a point to giving if you don’t feel it a little bit?

For those of you who’ve researched stewardship in the bible, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on what the text tells us.

Anyway, for those of you who have ministries that you support regularly, HeatherN3Boys is right, keep giving. Give even if it hurts a little, because the people that you’re helping through those ministries are hurting every day.

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Butterfly Effect – part 1

Posted in Current events, God's Kids, Orphan Care, Third World with tags , , , , , on November 2, 2007 by len20

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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