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July 27, 2007

Do You Know Where Your Money Is Going?

This is a question we ought to be asking ourselves every time we pull out our checkbook for that monthly donation to Compassion International, International Justice Mission, or . . . Prison Fellowship. But, if we're honest with ourselves, we'll admit that most times we slip that check in the mail and forget about it.

Fellow donors, beware!

This week, WORLD Magazine ran an excellent article about Wall Watchers, an independent financial watchdog for other nonprofit ministries. Wall Watchers began when founder Rusty Leonard, former investment consultant, realized that one of his clients knew more about his stock returns than his donations. This red flag sent Leonard on a scavenger hunt to track down the financial statements for the organizations he himself supported.

The results were disturbing. Several of the ministries Leonard contacted either couldn't, or wouldn't, supply him with financial information. For example, Wall Watchers claims that Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), an organization that claims to have global impact for Christ, stashes away $340 million in cash and short-term investments, a profit-margin comparable to Microsoft. And, according to Wall Watchers, Benny Hinn Ministries, a ministry that conducts Miracle Crusades, doesn't broadcast the fact that Mr. Hinn drives both a Mercedes SUV and a convertible, both valued at about $80,000.

Thankfully, Leonard and his staff discovered that these organizations were the exception, not the rule. Most of the ministries they contacted were more than willing to hand over papers that showed they had impeccable stewardship track-records.

But this should be a lesson to us all that before we fill in that memo line, we should check out Wall Watcher's "naughty or nice" list, Ministry Watch.

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We are not watching how the government is spending our taxpayer dollars. I read somewhere that Louisiana can't account for a $70 million grant. Maybe it was supposed to be spent on the levies!!!!

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