Charity Choice and adminstrative costs

There’s a recent trend to check a charity’s administrative costs to determine if one will give to them or not.

While exorbitant overhead costs or executive salaries can be outrageous, don’t judge all non-profits by the same story you heard of some executive who had a mansion and a 7-figure salary. Most non-profit administrators and staff are working like all get out to keep their programs going with very little finances to keep them going.

In fact, according to Saundra Schimmelpfennig at the blog Goodintents.org, low administrative costs can be misleading on the effectiveness of an organization.

Some projects have inherently low administration costs such as construction projects – because of the high cost of building materials in relation to administration costs – and donated goods. This can lead to schools built or libraries stocked with books but both go unused because there is no money to hire teachers.

This giving mindset can lead to problems for non-profits that want to do things right but have trouble getting funding for the very things they are best at.

In a non-profit that I’ve worked with in Guatemala, they struggle to pay salaries, maintenance and basic expenses because many givers have designated there funds to specific projects that cost the organization a lot but are not the core programs.

Schimmelpfennig continues with a word of caution:

Be wary of any program claiming extremely low administration Administration is a necessary part of aid projects. Organizations claiming that all of your money will go directly to the aid recipients either have a secondary source of funding, are expecting volunteers to cover administration costs out of their own pocket, or are not being honest with donors. When I spoke with staff in my state’s Consumer Protection Agency they said that one of the red flags that will trigger an investigation of a charitable organization is if it claims no fundraising expenses.

So when you look to give to an organization, see what they are doing and how well they’re doing it. If you like what they do, support them in doing it! That includes giving to general fund expenses. Your gift that pays to keep a light on may be the dollar that illuminates the new ministry, outreach, or  research branch that changes hundreds of lives. It may even be the dollar that lights the lab where they will find the cure for cancer!

Read more of Schimmelpfennig’s useful article at  Don’t Choose a Charity Based on Administration Costs

German Music Recital

 

On Thursday, February 18,  I attended the senior recital of mezzo-soprano singer Charity Barker at Oral Roberts University.  Usually, I am not one to pick out concerts for vocal qualities.  I tend to prefer the more instrumental performances.  However, I did attend Ms. Barker’s recital and feel it was a good experience for me.

Ms. Barker has a strong vibrant voice.  As vocal majors are required, Ms. Barker sang songs in Italian, German, French, and British and American English.  Since I do not understand most of those languages, I followed along in the little flier in the bulletin. I was surprised at the depressive lyrics to several of the songs.  The song Son tutta duolo especially was full of saddened lyrics.

The Italian piece, Orontea somehow reminded me of aristocratic gardens as one would watch out a large window pane.  It seemed to flow gently.  Even though I could not understand the lyrics, they held the quality which made me think of a lady missing her lad who was away.

As I listened to the music, I took notes so I could write some of the feelings I was having as I listened.  I described the German music as heavier and darker than the other pieces.  Of the German pieces I wrote, “Tries to be light and jovial but doesn’t quite make it.”  The German pieces somehow had a heavier sound.  Perhaps it was the guttural sound of the German tongue or just the style of those pieces.   The American pieces by Gershwin held a light sound with a hint of frivolity.

Overall, I think I gained a better understanding of what the different language styles and at least a little more appreciation of vocal music by itself.

Nepal and India Conference Ministry

I visited India and Nepal in 1998 with a ministry team from Oral Roberts University. Here are some of my notes from that time from a letter I found recently.

When we first arrived in India we met our contact, Tom Adleta (he is a whole story in himself) after rushing our baggage out of the airport and into jeeps we were just in time because a rainstorm hit.  Boy!  When it rains in India it really rains. The jeeps took us across the countryside toward Nepal several hours away.

This area of India is mostly tea plantations.  The plantations were originally English endeavors from when England colonized India until 1947.

Even in the rain there were harvesters working under their umbrellas to gather the yellow leaves from the tops of tea bushes which are more than 100 years old.

After stopping at the border to fill out the customary paperwork we made our way through the streets of Karkavitta to the Hotel Rajat (King Hotel) where we would stay for the next week and hold our first conference.

Friday, Saturday, and most of Sunday we rested and prepared for the conference.  Even though it was named the “King Hotel” we had friendly geckos to keep us company.  Well, at least they helped keep the bug population down! It got pretty hot and the humidity was awful so we drank lots of water and did our best to stay cool.

Outside of my window I could see the dirt street and one morning I watched an elderly man as he washed his face at a spigot and offered water and his morning prayers to his gods.  Seeing this was just the beginning of my realizing the spiritual oppression of the people of this area.

The conference was organized by a disciple of Tom’s who he has been training for some time to take over this aspect of their ministry.  Tom is focusing on equipping pastors from Bhutan to minister there. (Bhutan is one of the most closed nations in the world.  Several weeks after this conference a church in Bhutan was raided by police and about 15 people and the pastor were placed in jail.

We held the conference in a little (10’x 30′) storage room attached to the hotel.  When the electricity went out (a common occurrence throughout the whole trip) we sweltered and prayed that it would come back on and run the two ceiling fans again. Cure for heat?  Drink water. All day long

We may have been told that it would be a “youth” conference but “youth” means anyone between 13 and 70.  What an honor to be able to speak to these people several of which were pastors themselves!  Glory to God who fills us up and then uses us if we are willing to serve.

The Conference which began Sunday night and ran until noon Wednesday.  Since we were given freedom in what we would teach on each of us took our rest time to pray and study so we’d be prepared for our session.

I can see how important it is to be, as Paul told Timothy, Ready to preach in season and out of season.  It was very interesting to see how the Holy Spirit guided each teaching to follow a single theme about growing in the Lord.  I taught on putting on the armor of God.

Preaching can be very enjoyable when you can feel the Spirit speaking through you but when He doesn’t it can really be a struggle.  I experienced both types of preaching on this trip.  A hands-on lesson on relying on God and not on self.

The crowd we were speaking to consisted of about 60  pastors, lay Christians and at least one Hindu teacher who stopped by. Some of these people were Bhutanese refugees staying in India, some were Nepalis and some had traveled for days to come to this conference.  It is very humbling to see how much they desire God yet I know that I often don’t have that fervor for Him.

About the Hindu teacher.

God specifically had him show up one evening and hear Michael Homan’s teaching on Jesus Christ.  After that session Tom told him to stay for the evening session when he taught the Salvation message again.  The Hindu teacher was ready and accepted Christ that night!  There were several others as well and rededications also.

During different services we prayed for healings and had reports of at least one lady being healed of joint problems. Praise the Lord!

Something about Nepali customs:  all through the services everyone sits on the ground and the ladies sit on one side while men sit on the other.  In Christian circles there is no longer any caste system but the women still have few privileges.  Still, those ladies worship with their whole hearts and pray with fervor.

Wednesday evening we rented an entire bus to take us the 14 hours to Kathmandu.  With seven of us on the team plus Tom; his friend, Reuben; our baggage, and the seven Adleta children (Nathaniel, Matthew, Joy, Jonathan, Jubilee, Honour, and one more), we needed the whole bus. In 14 hours it is amazing, how many different positions I tried to get comfortable….  Stretched across my seat, leaning against the window, kneeling half-on and half-off the seat.  I slept some but it wasn’t until later in the trip that I learned to sleep just about anywhere.

Another rainstorm cooled things off so the ride was really quite nice as we made our way up one of the few highways in Nepal and on toward the Kathmandu Valley.

A note to my pregnant friend

Here’s a note that I sent to a friend who is concerned about having a natural childbirth.  I’m pretty passionate about this sort of thing so I wanted to share this here too.

Well, where to begin…I personally have two friends who had their membranes stripped and now look back on it in regret. They both ended up with very long labors and one ended up with a C-section because after over 50 hours of labor she still was not dilated enough. The other one did have a natural birth, but only after many, many hours of labor. They told me that they think their extraordinary long labors were due to them having their membranes stripped. Continue reading ‘A note to my pregnant friend’

TRAVEL ALASKA

Part I

Alaska and the Eskimos

The United States is known for its diversity — diversity of land and diversity of people.  People have immigrated from all over the world to join what has been dubbed “the melting pot”.  Since acquiring the region of Alaska from Russia, the U.S. has gained a marvelous addition to this melting pot of cultures and societies.

The natives of Alaska called, Eskimos, are the proud descendants of nomadic travelers, brave sailors, and explorers who have learned to survive in the land of the midnight sun. The first visitors to this harsh environment of the north are thought to be the Tlingits and the Haidas (settlers of British Colombia), the Athabascans (inhabited the Alaskan interior), the Aleuts of the islands, and the Inuit (Eskimo).  These people came from Asia across the land bridge which linked Siberia and North America approximately 3000 years ago1.

Inuit Past Continue reading ‘TRAVEL ALASKA’

Finding quality kids accessories in Guatemala

Kids Box

A large selection of cribs, playpens and car seats.

We have kids, and we live in Guatemala. That means that when we’re looking for kids toys, nursery furniture, and accessories that we would have been able to find  at our local Walmart, ToysRus or garage sale in the states, those items are much harder to come across. Thanks to some other missionary friends we found a place other than the area pacas where toys and kid equipment can be found in Guatemala City! Continue reading ‘Finding quality kids accessories in Guatemala’

Review: The Pacific Crest Trail

March 19, 1998

The Pacific Crest Trail

“Wherever we go in the mountains, we find more than we seek,” said John Muir, an avid naturalist who fought for the preservation of the western wilderness because of their beauty and the relaxation he found in them.  The Pacific Crest Trail was a delight to read as I followed the author from Southern California to Northern Washington.  It took me from the roadside view I have seen blur past my eyes into the wilds and rugged topographic beauty of the Sierra Nevada range across the Mojave desert, into the bowl of Crater Lake and the icy peaks of Mount Rainier to the Canadian border.

Author and adventurer, William R. Gray, wrote this book in such a way that I felt I was experiencing along with him the wet, boulder-strewn trails, the breathtaking uplifted peaks, and the flora of the trail.  Never before have I taken much interest in extensive backpacking/hiking but being able to see the rugged mountains and serene valleys while actually experiencing the world God created has grabbed my attention.  Perhaps I shall attempt the hike myself sometime.

Gray met 87-year-old geologist, Dr. Rene Engel, who described subterranean forces of mountain building and offered this advice, “Be alert as you walk through the mountains.  You will learn much more geology from them than you will from me.”

I think Dr. Engel said it well.  For myself it is one thing to read, study, or even see pictures of the structures of the earth.  But it is a whole new dimension to feel the rough ancient volcanic rock under my feet and understand the gigantic forces God used to make the beautiful ranges Gray described.

Through the variety of ecological environments he passed, Gray, brought the pages of this book to life with descriptions of the land, the creatures and the people who have made these areas their home.  The flora which struggles to survive in the scorching heat of the Mojave Desert draws life-giving water from the porous stone which seems to soak up any moister as quickly as it falls.  This book, with its photographs and descriptive phrases, has given me a guided tour through the deserts and mountains of the Pacific Coast.  Gray described the contrasts of nature as he saw them change with each mile he passed.  The heat of the desert gradually became the freezing wind at the cap of Mount Whitney at 14,494.164 feet.

Just as John Muir said, I found more than I expected in mountains and valleys described in this book.  Not only did I learn about the topography of the Pacific Crest Trail; I learned about the forces which made the numerous ridges and volcanic cones.  I learned to take a second look at the world around me and find the natural beauty of God’s creation.  Someday, perhaps, I will follow the Pacific Crest Trail, but for now I will let this remind me to take a closer look at nature around me and remember the natural geologic stories beneath my own feet.

Philbrook Museum

I visited the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  As I walked through the villa I couldn’t help but take note of the amazing architecture of the structure itself.  From the rotunda to the twisted columns and elaborate painted ceilings,  it was a pleasure to walk through the building itself.  And besides there is a lot of nice art work on display as well.

In the American Still-Life traveling exhibit I had little taste for the majority of the pieces because I personally don’t care for the modern style.  One smaller painting particularly caught my eye: Carpetbag Days by Priscilla Roberts was stunning.  Roberts’ oil on masonite is a dark painting with light coming from the right upper corner.  Roberts used a technique and style that created a lifelike representation of a scene from bygone days.  In the photographic like painting a clock, carpetbag, chest and a couple of other items can be seen.  I liked the simplistic yet pure style.

Another piece was Blue Blanket by a different artist.  Blue Blanket was striking in that it showed a (what else?) blue blanket on a lawn.  The artist’s shading and highlights gave the effect of a pool of refreshing water.  It was odd but I liked it.

Of the European art I like the portrait entitled “The Shepherdess”  it is simple in content but speaks loudly of  an era in Europe.

The Villa Philbrook building and grounds have an interesting history.  Designed by architects from Kansas City, Missouri; the structure and Italianate gardens were built in the 1920’s for Waite and Genevieve Phillips where the wealthy couple lived from 1927 – 1938.

Now the Philbrook is made open to the public for the enjoyment of the property and the wonderful works of art it contains.

Are we a mission society?

We head a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that supports missionaries and missions in other countries so during our annual preparations to file vital paperwork with the IRS, I discovered a clause in the IRS’s Form 990 and Form 990EZ instructions that indicated that we might not need to file since we’re a mission society.  It says:

A mission society sponsored by, or affiliated with, one or more churches or church denominations, if more than half of the society’s activities are conducted in, or directed at, persons in foreign countries.

We fit the category of sponsored by one or more churches and over half our activities are conducted in foreign countries so I set about trying to discover how the IRS defines a “Mission Society.” Continue reading ‘Are we a mission society?’

For Sale: 2004 Hyundai Terracan

SOLD Continue reading ‘For Sale: 2004 Hyundai Terracan’