Saturday, October 21, 2006

HELP International Ministries, Inc.

My cousin Deborah and her family (Darren, Aubrey, and Auden) visited me at my apartment in Denver today. Because they live in the Philippines, we rarely get the opportunity to see one another. They happened to be in Denver visiting some friends, and we were able to catch up for a few hours. I was especially fortunate to go "crocodile hunting" with Aubrey.

I was a missionary in Thailand for two years, but Deborah, her husband Darren, her sister Sarah, and her parents (my Uncle Dennis and Aunt Jeri) have been living in the Philippines for over 10 years now, using their HELP International Ministries, Inc. to run a midwifery and adoption center. That's dedication. I only occasionally act on my idealism. They live theirs.

Their organization is incorporated in the Philippines, not in the United States, so in order for donations to be deducted for tax purposes, they must go through their home church in Montana. As neither HELP nor their home church is a 501c(3), information is not publicly available on what percentage of donated funds go to helping the children and mothers, as opposed to overhead and administrative costs. Charity Navigator only analyzes 501c(3) charities that file a Form 990. Foreign organizations, religious organizations, lobbying organizations, and private foundations do not meet these criteria.

To determine whether an organization not found on Charity Navigator is qualified for tax deductions, one can search the IRS Publication 78. I am unable to find my relatives' Sunburst, Montana congregation called Church on the Rock, though a number of other instances of Church on the Rock are found in the database. Furthermore, Deborah and Darren told me donations to their home church are deductable, and I trust them. Looking up my own congregation, I see it's not listed individually, but instead it's considered a subordinate to another church listed in the database/publication.

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