My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for Good Samaritan Ministries, Beaverton, OR, USA
I’m a 5-year volunteer at Good Samaritan Ministries, specifically with a group called International Education, whose focus is literacy and education for children (most of them orphans) in 3rd world countries. Through fund-and-friend-raising events we … (1) tell the story at large … the international research backed by hard, long-term data … that these precious lives are forever changed because they have been given: (a) the tools to become self-sufficient, and (b) the gift of their own voice; and, (2) we tell the individual stories of children’s lives lifted from total abject poverty and obscurity to become contributing citizens in the development of their own communities.
So here’s the thing about Good Samaritan Ministries: THEY GET IT!!! They get that life is all about your perspective and attitude … within relationships … with your neighbors, spouse, kids; with your in-laws, out-laws, ex-laws; with your fellow workers, boss; with your stuff, like your clothes, car, boat, jewelry, house, and … your money; with yourself; with God. Enter their very modest facility and you immediately sense that their mantra rings true, that judgment stops at the door. Good Samaritan is a safe haven where you are embraced irrespective of your condition. You are free to learn, to keep on becoming, via counseling sessions; long/short-term seminars or group therapy (often interactive); varied weekly activities; become a volunteer and see where you adventurously end up, or, lend your known expertise.
Good Samaritan’s willingness and ability to expend their resources and themselves the mile beyond the extra mile to help the one in need is exceptional, often sacrificial. It is a HUGE work they do, and the needs are ever-pressing, particularly given the current world-wide economic climate. But, by wisely applying aggressive time and money management, they seem to cover more bases than otherwise imaginable. They are the first to admit the impact of their faithful and dedicated volunteers. Whatever space you fill at this ministry, if you let it, and if you dare, it will challenge you to see yourself more honestly, to question your life’s priorities, and ultimately, the reason for your existence … the purpose of your life on planet earth.
I believe that each of our lives is a story, interspersed with messy chapters. I often told my own children that our family, each of us, was a story in the making, because whether looking at secular or Biblical heroes, they, too, were all flawed personalities, irrespective of their suggested greatness. Years ago I had some counseling at Good Samaritan Ministries. Years later I returned and ended up a volunteer with the International Education group. I’d be hard pressed to find elsewhere the depth of dedication and commitment, such natural intent to intervene … to be “my brother’s/sister’s keeper” (Luke 10:25-37), as I experience at and through Good Samaritan Ministries’ efforts.
So what is my story? From my past counseling, from my volunteering, from attending classes and events at Good Samaritan Ministries, I’ve arrived at a place of reconciliation with myself, and there’s a real peace about that. There is always the push and pull dynamic in my life … which is rich personal growth potential … if kept in proper balance and perspective. You'll find that hanging around with "the people" at Good Samaritan keeps you humble, and if you stay attuned you can't help but expand your horizons, see with new eyes, become more willing, even able, to extend yourself, often simply because of a realigned perspective and attitude! I’m human but I’m learning I need to apply more of God’s grace in my life, and to extend it more to others. I always thought I had a story or two, but I’m seeing more and more that I have my own unique story. At this point, it’s not a bad read either, but there's new and improved versions up ahead!
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Review for Partnership With Native Americans, Addison, TX, USA
I, too have received "freebies" from your organization, as well as from other American Indian relief organizations. I get freebies, and money from yet numerous other "world relief" organizations. And when I ask those in my social circle if they receive such "goodies", those who answer in the affirmative also spontaneously confirm my own feelings about these freebies: It is a turnoff, has a negative impact, and when some of us do the math of say 10, 20, 50, 100-thousand mailings ... the paper, the postage, the "freebies", the labor involved ... boy, does it add up, and I find it wasteful, and I cannot respond. I, too, live way-y-y-y below the poverty level, so I understand a bit about the "struggle". I don't even pretend to live at the level of distress within the American Indian population, except that I KNOW it is extremely traumatic (I've been donating $ and goods to a local American Indian relief concern for 30+ years.). But because I myself have to sacrifice a lot to be able to give, I want to make sure my donation isn't going into that 25% fundraising effort; 3,5,10% even 15%, 20-25, not a chance. I also volunteer for a WORLD WIDE relief agency, where most of us are volunteers; the needs being met are equal if not more daunting, and along with so many other worthy relief organizations, our "cost" to operate is always being refined, defined, and kept at a mere 3-5%, for 30-plus years running. I don't know the answer to your 25% cost to operate, but perhaps a tweaking of the verbage of your message, the context, approaching it candidly from a brief historic narrative, being America's first nation(s), overtaken by new settlers, yourselves being resettled out of your cultural element in the worst geographic areas, with many great promises which ... and are now seeking fiscal aid to support and expand on the work begun ... to enlarge the small foothold, to hopefully bring a measure of self-sustaining success, all of which requires training ... which requires books, teachers, food, heat. This is lengthy, and so is my concern for the American Indian, but I cannot, in good conscience, respond to a 25% cost to operate, not when I live so very frugally myself.
Thanks for your note. As mentioned elsewhere, the BBB standard for charity accountability is 68%. Over 70% of donations go toward National Relief Charities programs. Only 2% of income goes toward administration. We test all of our mail packages to determine whether it is more cost-effective to mail with, or without, a premium, and we only use premiums when it makes sense to do so. We also wish to point out that Charity Navigator and Guidestar agree that financial ratings are not the most important thing in evaluating a charity. You can read their comments in this article: http://www.charityevaluator.com/pdf/Worst_Way_to_Pick_A_Charity_Dec_1_2009.pdf. Instead, they say effectiveness is most important, and the people we serve say that NRC is highly effective. We realize that you may not understand this or agree with it. But we are always striving to control fundraising costs and to maximize our service levels and outcomes. Thanks again.