As you know, the overarching purposes of the blog are (1) to communicate broadly, to a reading public, scholarship on the New Testament and Early Christianity (as opposed to most of the material you find on the Internet, which is almost entirely devotional and not based on historical scholarship) and (2) in doing so, to raise money for charity. The latter is what keeps me going. I absolutely love communicating with non-scholars what the scholars are finding about these fundamentally important topics. But my ultimate passion for the blog is to help people in need. Hence the charity aspect.
As you know, every penny that comes into the blog from membership fees and from direct donations goes to the charities we support. There are no overhead costs because I pay for the blog myself, as my own contribution.
Blog members sometimes indicate they would like to have more information about what those charities are and what they actually do. There are five that receive our support. Three of them are local to me: Urban Ministries of Durham (about which, below); North Carolina Food Bank; and the Durham Literacy Center; two of them are international: CARE and Doctors without Borders. These are all amazing charities, helping those in need and working to make the world a better place.
It’s a pretty simple operation. When I started the blog in 2012, I set up a non-profit foundation, The Bart Ehrman Foundation, whose sole purpose is to collect the moneys raised by the blog and distribute the moneys to charity. Money comes in, goes to the Foundation, and from there straight to charity. When I set the Foundation up, I expected we would raise something like $20,000 a year. Whoops. Bad estimate. To date we have distributed over $800,000
Each year we have raised significantly more than the year previous, growing in the past few years at about 12-13%. Last year (my fiscal year runs April 1-March 31, because of when I started the blog) we raised $170,000. We are now taking steps to start growing the blog significantly, to move it from a kind of mom-and-pop store to something bigger. We’ll see if it happens.
I want to tell you more about the Urban Ministries of Durham. Of all these much beloved and vital charities, it is the one nearest and dearest to my heart. It is the agency that deals with hunger and homelessness in my own locale. It is an absolutely amazing “ministry” (it is not religious in anyway; the term is used in the secular sense). Among other things instead of (or, rather, in addition to) putting a band aid on the problems through their homeless shelter and community kitchen and food pantry and clothing pantry, Urban Ministries actually works to get people off homelessness and into permanent jobs and permanent housing.
Anyone interested in seeing what a local organization can do, and do brilliantly, should check out their work at http://umdurham.org/.
The Director of Development at Urban Ministries, Joe Daly, is deeply interested in the blog (personally) and has agreed to share some interesting information about what it does to address the needs of the community. Here is what he has says, just to give you a sense of what they do and why:
- According to 2019 statewide health rankings, 50,890 residents in Durham County report being food insecure, including more than 12,000 children under 18.
- Over 47,000 residents live below the federal poverty line: monthly income of $1,041/single adult; $2,092/family of four. Durham County.
- Durham County averages nearly 800 eviction filings per month.
Here are key UMD stats from Fiscal Year 2018-19:
- Total served: 6,186 individuals
- Total who stayed in our shelter: 686 men, women and children
- Number who exited to permanent housing: 248
- Number of shelter clients who received help from our workforce development team: 330; 208 secured employment
- Meals served in our community cafe: 228,406
- Households served per month by our food pantry and clothing closet: 503
- Number of volunteers who participated and their total volunteer hours: 3,749 and 28,014 respectively
We expect these numbers to grow in FY 2019-20, supported by a $2.6 million budget and in-kind contributions exceeding $1 million. Important reminder that any new support to UMD received between now and Jan. 31st will be matched dollar for dollar by The Stewards Fund of Raleigh. The link to our secure giving page is: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/UMDurham
And so, feel free to contact Joe and / or Urban Ministries if you want to make a direct contribution that can be matched dollar-for-dollar. Or if it’s easier for you, feel free to make an additional contribution to the blog and just let me know (via email at firstname.lastname@example.org) that you would like it to go specifically there.