March 19, 2010

Firefighters Charitable Foundation

About two weeks ago, I received a call from someone at the Firefighters Charitable Foundation asking for a donation. Of course, they don't start the conversation out that way. They start out asking if you have ever known a victim of a fire. Obviously, most people have. So I answered, "Sure."

The guy didn't really seem to know how to respond, so he said "OK" and continued reading his script. I continued listening to his pitch and then of course he asked if I would donate money. I told him to send me me some information about the foundation along with a financial report so I could evaluate their organization.

He responded, "Great, how much will you donate." I told him again, that it would depend on their organizations financial report. He said, "Ok, do you think you will donate $25?" Again, I stated that I need to read the financial report first. Finally, the guy reiterates everything we already talked about and said he would mail me the information.

This week I received a letter in the mail from the foundation. Inside the envelope was a pamphlet, a letter asking for a $25 donation, and a return envelope. No financial information at all.

I did like the PS on the bottom of the letter, "P.S. An additional gift of $2.00 to your original pledge can help raise additional funds." Really? If I give you 2 more dollars, that is more money you would have? Wow, I never realized that. Thanks for the tip!

I was simple going to pitch the information, but I thought I will at least spend a few minutes looking up the website to see if they have any financial information available there. For whatever reason the website would not load.

So I decided to try one more thing. I checked them out on Charity Navigator. The latest data available was for the year ending 2007. Their revenue was $4.1 million. The expenses were $4.2 million.

So far, it doesn't sound too good. They spend more than they make. As I continued to look more closely at the data I saw that $3.5 million was spent on fundraising and $245,000 was spent on administration. So that means about 91% of their revenue last year went to something other than the main purpose of the foundation!

If you want to donate to victims of fires, your best bet is to support your local agencies. Always evaluate who you are giving money too. You might be surprised to find out where your money is going.

Always thinking here at Doe Valley.

March 12, 2010

Book Review

The Faith-Based Millionaire by Jay Peroni

This book claims to be a "practical how-to book" regarding faith and finances. There are 12 easy to read chapters containing information about aligning your finances with your faith. I cannot say that any of the advice was outstanding though.

The book can easily be summarized by saying, trust God with your finances, do what He would want you to do with "your" money. Give to God, spend wisely, save and invest as much as possible so that you can help others.

There didn't seem to be much "practical" advice about investing other than saying hire a professional if you do not have the time to evaluate companies for their moral, social, or religious activities. Obviously, don't invest in companies that violate your principles.

It almost seemed to me that the author wrote this book to promote his website and his faith-based advising business.

Overall, this book is worth a read. There are a few tidbits of information that could help you out. This isn't a book you would refer to often, so it would be better to borrow the book from a library and save yourself some money.

March 10, 2010

Book Review

The Message - The New Testament in Contemporary Language
by Eugene H. Peterson

This book is a "translation" of the New Testament in modern English, it is almost translated the way someone would talk to their friends.

This is a special edition for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Throughout the book there are thoughts from Billy Graham about a particular topic, usually something that is discussed in that part of Scripture. Each book of the Bible also has a brief introduction. This book was easy to read, almost like a normal paperback book. The font size was just right.

I enjoyed reading this translation. However, I would not recommend it to the new student of the Bible. In my opinion, this version loses to much of the original wording, especially for some of the theological issues.

There were some interesting insights that Peterson translates, especially some of the parables of Christ. However, I did not like the way Peterson translated other says of Christ, especially some of the "I am" statements ("I am the road!").

Overall, I would recommend reading this book only after you are familiar with a good, accurate translation of the Word of God.