Smart Giving

Here on Mission Mondays, I like to bring out on occasion ways for people to make a difference right where you are. We don’t always have the opportunity to go to places with needs (and there’s always the needs right where we are anyway), but if there’s a issue that touches your heart, it is nice to make a difference.

For instance, Idaho doesn’t seem to have a high rate of human trafficking (although I’m sure it is more than we know), but it is an issue I care deeply about. Therefore I like to support organizations like International Justice Mission.

How do we know what we’re doing makes a difference?

First of all, you can check with a group called Charity Navigator. This organization rates groups by financial stewardship and accountability. If most of the money goes to help those it is intended for, it gets a good money number. If it has policies in place to be transparent and accountable, that score goes up.

This is not the only resource people should use, but it is helpful to get an overview, especially if you’re looking at a new charity you’re not familiar with or it is a hot topic issue (the Haiti earthquake for example).

Christianity Today had a helpful article that reviewed ten different strategies that are popular for charitable giving right now, from clean water initiatives to giving animals through charity gift catalogs and laptops for disadvantaged kids. Several economists looked at these from a cost benefit and effectiveness rating. There were some surprising findings.

Corrective surgeries scored a little lower than one would expect, due to the higher cost per benefit. The gift catalog of giving assorted livestock or animals didn’t rate very well, and this may change what I do next Christmas (even though my kids enjoyed this). The laptops initiative scored the worst and clean water projects scored the highest. Check out the article for more in depth information.

We all want to know that what we’re doing to help really helps. Hopefully these two links help with discerning the best way to give in the future. It doesn’t hurt to do our homework.

Have fun telling that to my kids though…

Smart Giving

Here on Mission Mondays, I like to bring out on occasion ways for people to make a difference right where you are. We don’t always have the opportunity to go to places with needs (and there’s always the needs right where we are anyway), but if there’s a issue that touches your heart, it is nice to make a difference.

For instance, Idaho doesn’t seem to have a high rate of human trafficking (although I’m sure it is more than we know), but it is an issue I care deeply about. Therefore I like to support organizations like International Justice Mission.

How do we know what we’re doing makes a difference?

First of all, you can check with a group called Charity Navigator. This organization rates groups by financial stewardship and accountability. If most of the money goes to help those it is intended for, it gets a good money number. If it has policies in place to be transparent and accountable, that score goes up.

This is not the only resource people should use, but it is helpful to get an overview, especially if you’re looking at a new charity you’re not familiar with or it is a hot topic issue (the Haiti earthquake for example).

Christianity Today had a helpful article that reviewed ten different strategies that are popular for charitable giving right now, from clean water initiatives to giving animals through charity gift catalogs and laptops for disadvantaged kids. Several economists looked at these from a cost benefit and effectiveness rating. There were some surprising findings.

Corrective surgeries scored a little lower than one would expect, due to the higher cost per benefit. The gift catalog of giving assorted livestock or animals didn’t rate very well, and this may change what I do next Christmas (even though my kids enjoyed this). The laptops initiative scored the worst and clean water projects scored the highest. Check out the article for more in depth information.

We all want to know that what we’re doing to help really helps. Hopefully these two links help with discerning the best way to give in the future. It doesn’t hurt to do our homework.

Have fun telling that to my kids though…

Stop Human Trafficking

This blog has long made a point of highlighting the plight of human trafficking. The world is slowly growing in awareness about how big this problem has become. It is worse in scope at this time than at the height of the African slave trade.

When I saw CNN launching their Freedom Project highlighting the evils of human trafficking today, I was excited. The global resources of CNN added to the other work done by fine organizations can only bring more light to these dark areas.

I’ve redesigned my sidebar to the right, collecting links for organizations that fight human trafficking together and placing it more prominently in the list. Small changes, to be sure. I will link to updates from CNN and others as they come.
I encourage everyone reading this to consider participating with me in the Fast for Freedom sponsored by the Not for Sale Campaign. It is being held this Sunday, March 13 around the globe. Talk to your friends about it. Bring it up at church. Consider fasting – remembering the victims in prayer and donating the cost of eating that day to a group that fights this evil.
See Not for Sale Campaign for details

I am making my pledge today. Will you join me?

Stop Human Trafficking

This blog has long made a point of highlighting the plight of human trafficking. The world is slowly growing in awareness about how big this problem has become. It is worse in scope at this time than at the height of the African slave trade.

When I saw CNN launching their Freedom Project highlighting the evils of human trafficking today, I was excited. The global resources of CNN added to the other work done by fine organizations can only bring more light to these dark areas.

I’ve redesigned my sidebar to the right, collecting links for organizations that fight human trafficking together and placing it more prominently in the list. Small changes, to be sure. I will link to updates from CNN and others as they come.
I encourage everyone reading this to consider participating with me in the Fast for Freedom sponsored by the Not for Sale Campaign. It is being held this Sunday, March 13 around the globe. Talk to your friends about it. Bring it up at church. Consider fasting – remembering the victims in prayer and donating the cost of eating that day to a group that fights this evil.
See Not for Sale Campaign for details

I am making my pledge today. Will you join me?

Help for Haiti

I know there are lots of ways to help in Haiti, with the large earthquake that has devastated Port-au-Prince. We donated through World Vision, which is a well-respected charity with people already on the ground.

Air 1 has a list of other reliable organizations on this web page.

Every little bit helps, but most of all prayer. Someone on KLove radio this morning who has been to Haiti and sponsors a child there shared this:
Psalm 46
1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear,
though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
8 Come and see the works of the LORD,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Help for Haiti

I know there are lots of ways to help in Haiti, with the large earthquake that has devastated Port-au-Prince. We donated through World Vision, which is a well-respected charity with people already on the ground.

Air 1 has a list of other reliable organizations on this web page.

Every little bit helps, but most of all prayer. Someone on KLove radio this morning who has been to Haiti and sponsors a child there shared this:
Psalm 46
1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear,
though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
8 Come and see the works of the LORD,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Last Minute Christmas Gifts?

I’d like to provide the Spoiled for the Ordinary 2nd annual Alternative Gift Giving Guide. If you’re having trouble finding the perfect something for a loved one, maybe it is because they don’t need anything!

Instead of buying another unwanted trinket, consider donating on behalf of others and benefit those who really need it.

International Justice Mission – an organization providing justice, rescue, and rehabilitation for victims of the slave trade and sex trafficking.

World Vision – providing food and medical care around the world for years. One of the most respected charities out there.

Wonderfully Made Jewelry – do double duty! Find a beautiful jewelry piece for someone, made by rescued victims of trafficking. The jewelry may seem a little expensive, but it is not coming at the expense of sweat-shop labor.

Angel Tree by Prison Fellowship – Angel Tree provides presents to the children of prisoners, and is a way of showing hope to both the prisoner (who often feels guilty about not being able to provied for their kids) and the family left at home. Prison Fellowship offers many outreaches and services to prisoners all year.

Mercy Ships – these ships travel the world to offer medical, dental, and community development services to some of the poorest of all.

There are other worthy organizations out there, but most of these I’ve had experience with, and I know there is good return on your investment.

Be a blessing this Christmas season, and God bless you!

Last Minute Christmas Gifts?

I’d like to provide the Spoiled for the Ordinary 2nd annual Alternative Gift Giving Guide. If you’re having trouble finding the perfect something for a loved one, maybe it is because they don’t need anything!

Instead of buying another unwanted trinket, consider donating on behalf of others and benefit those who really need it.

International Justice Mission – an organization providing justice, rescue, and rehabilitation for victims of the slave trade and sex trafficking.

World Vision – providing food and medical care around the world for years. One of the most respected charities out there.

Wonderfully Made Jewelry – do double duty! Find a beautiful jewelry piece for someone, made by rescued victims of trafficking. The jewelry may seem a little expensive, but it is not coming at the expense of sweat-shop labor.

Angel Tree by Prison Fellowship – Angel Tree provides presents to the children of prisoners, and is a way of showing hope to both the prisoner (who often feels guilty about not being able to provied for their kids) and the family left at home. Prison Fellowship offers many outreaches and services to prisoners all year.

Mercy Ships – these ships travel the world to offer medical, dental, and community development services to some of the poorest of all.

There are other worthy organizations out there, but most of these I’ve had experience with, and I know there is good return on your investment.

Be a blessing this Christmas season, and God bless you!

Alternative Christmas Gifts

Yesterday I mentioned my friend’s baby boutique, Lovely Lullabies Boutique, as an online option for Christmas shopping. If you don’t have anyone that is in baby mode that you need to shop for, and you’re frustrated about what to get them, I have a couple of suggestions.

Many of us in the West don’t really NEED anything. We have wish lists of the latest toys and gadgets, styles, or whatever. I am definitely talking about myself in this as well. What if we could give something that was meaningful and made a difference in people’s lives?

I have a couple of examples of things that can be done.

There is a new trend with charities that gives a concrete example of what is given, and it is a great opportunity for kids to see what they are doing with their gift. If you’ve got a family member that has everything, then you can also give something in their name via the charity.

World Vision is one of the best charities when it comes to financial accountability. They have a “gift catalog“, where you can give $25 dollars to by chicks for a village, or $250 worth of food for $50. The catalog explains how a $75 goat can be such a windfall for a family providing protein-rich milk, cheese and yogurt as well as the possibility of offspring. For just $30, 5 ducks can be provided, with eggs and extra ducklings to sell for money. It is an awesome opportunity to help those who really need the help, and again it is a concrete way of seeing the money spent, rather just sending a check into the void.

International Justice Mission is another of my favorite charities. They work on behalf of oppressed peoples in slavery and trafficking around the world, whether for sweat shops, forced prostitution, or other instances of injustice. They also have a freedom catalog. Gifts of $25 – $50 can buy a half or whole day of investigative work, which is needed to find the people in need and line up the proper government authorities to enforce the right laws, or aftercare for abused girls. The gifts here are a little more abstract, but still the money is going to a specific activity, which can be much more meaningful.

I hope people can consider these options in their gift-giving plans. I’m sure there are other charities out there that do similar things, these are just two of the charities I have chosen to support because I believe in their mission and trust their accountability. Since we’re celebrating the birth of Jesus, let’s remember His words about “whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me.” (paraphrase of Matt 25:40)

Alternative Christmas Gifts

Yesterday I mentioned my friend’s baby boutique, Lovely Lullabies Boutique, as an online option for Christmas shopping. If you don’t have anyone that is in baby mode that you need to shop for, and you’re frustrated about what to get them, I have a couple of suggestions.

Many of us in the West don’t really NEED anything. We have wish lists of the latest toys and gadgets, styles, or whatever. I am definitely talking about myself in this as well. What if we could give something that was meaningful and made a difference in people’s lives?

I have a couple of examples of things that can be done.

There is a new trend with charities that gives a concrete example of what is given, and it is a great opportunity for kids to see what they are doing with their gift. If you’ve got a family member that has everything, then you can also give something in their name via the charity.

World Vision is one of the best charities when it comes to financial accountability. They have a “gift catalog“, where you can give $25 dollars to by chicks for a village, or $250 worth of food for $50. The catalog explains how a $75 goat can be such a windfall for a family providing protein-rich milk, cheese and yogurt as well as the possibility of offspring. For just $30, 5 ducks can be provided, with eggs and extra ducklings to sell for money. It is an awesome opportunity to help those who really need the help, and again it is a concrete way of seeing the money spent, rather just sending a check into the void.

International Justice Mission is another of my favorite charities. They work on behalf of oppressed peoples in slavery and trafficking around the world, whether for sweat shops, forced prostitution, or other instances of injustice. They also have a freedom catalog. Gifts of $25 – $50 can buy a half or whole day of investigative work, which is needed to find the people in need and line up the proper government authorities to enforce the right laws, or aftercare for abused girls. The gifts here are a little more abstract, but still the money is going to a specific activity, which can be much more meaningful.

I hope people can consider these options in their gift-giving plans. I’m sure there are other charities out there that do similar things, these are just two of the charities I have chosen to support because I believe in their mission and trust their accountability. Since we’re celebrating the birth of Jesus, let’s remember His words about “whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me.” (paraphrase of Matt 25:40)