Thursday, November 20, 2014

'i came not to call the righteous, but sinners'

'...God accepts only the forsaken, cures only the sick, gives sight only to the blind, restores life only to the dead, sanctifies only the sinners, gives wisdom only to the unwise. In short, He has mercy only on those who are wretched.' Luther, Luther's works, volume 29, Lectures on Titus, Philemon and Hebrews, ed Jaruslav Pelikan (Concordia,1968) p 189.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Wanna start a new charity? Here's one we actiually need

Have just been exploring an American site called Charity Navigator. A charity itself,  it looks at the financial efficiency, governance and transparency of charities in the USA, providing a star rating and all kinds of information. 

What a good idea. It highlights total clunkers. For example, the Autism Disorder Spectrum Organization (in the US) which raised $3.8m but spent $3.4m of it on fundraising.

It has top ten lists. Worst in all America for paying professional fundraisers? Stand up, Cancer Survivors' Fund which pays 90% of its income out in fundraising. Yet it claims to provide 'scholarships for young cancer survivors, give them a new purpose and meaning in life and enable them to continue their college education.' Actually, it mostly gives professional fundraisers a new purpose and meaning in life.

However, try the '10 best charities everyone has heard of' list and take a bow, Samaritan's Purse and Compassion International. Samaritan's Purse puts just a shade under 90% of every dollar it receives into its charitable programs. (Though it still manages to pay Franklin Graham a to my mind eye-popping annual salary of $437,000. Compassion International's Wesley Stafford gets by on $130,000 less.)

Others are still good but not quite so good: Oxfam America burns through nearly 14% of its income in fundraising and pays its main guy more than half a million dollars a year. (Its revenue is a mere $65m.) World Vision raises over a billion dollars a year (a billion!), pays its guy $400,000 (perhaps decent value), but still blows through $100m )(a hundred million dollars!) each year in fundraising. WV only gets three stars out of a possible four from the good burghers of Charity Navigator.

Here in the UK I know of no similar charity. Does anyone? Instead, we are assailed by various groups in various ways with no very easy way to figure out whether we are dealing with the gruesome UK equivalent of the Cancer Survivor's Fund or the more uplifting examples like Compassion International and Samaritan's Purse. Of course those two have UK arms, which is probably reassuring.

What we need, clearly, is not (yet) another fund in aid of a dead soldier's memory (well-intentioned and cathartic though that may be for people who have suffered an awful loss) but a bit of robust accounting and analysis.