This week’s Reader’s Mailbag is not about a specific question I have been asked once but about a general question I get asked a lot. People have indicated several times they would like to have more information about the charities we support on the blog, and so I thought it was time to explain that again (I’ve done it only a couple of times over the years.)
So 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. Any donations to the blog are fully tax deductible. When I set the Foundation up, I expected we would raise something like $20,000 a year. Woops. Bad estimate. To date we have distributed $339,000 in funds to charities. Each year (until, alas, this one it appears! L) we have raised significantly more than the year previous. Last year (my fiscal year runs April 1-March 31, because of when I started the blog) we raised $170,000. Amazing. But, of course, I always want to do better. I’m just that kind of guy….
The big issue people want to know about is what charities we support and what it is they do. And so here is what I have said before about that on the blog (I’ve lifted the post from one over a year ago). I think in the future (not right away: most of this blog is to be about the literature and history of early Christianity!) I’ll have some guest posts by people representing these charities to give us some more information. But here is the nuts and bolts, as found in that earlier post.
This post is about the blog itself, dealing with the question of which charities it supports (in reply to numerous requests) mentioning several of improvements we have made in response to requests that I have received.
First, philanthropy. As I think everyone on the blog knows, all the member fees and all the donations (which you should feel free to begin or continue to make!) go to charity. I don’t keep a dime for myself and I pay for the upkeep, maintenance, and support for the blog (it’s not as cheap as one might imagine….) (or at least as I did) out of my own pocket. But I’m happy to do it – it’s a fantastic cause.
Several people have pointed out to me that my *explanation* about the charity aspect of the blog on the Philanthropy page on is fairly pathetic. It doesn’t even indicate which charities the blog supports. That’s a problem. And so it’s time to rectify it.
All the moneys collected by the blog go into the Bart Ehrman Foundation, and all that money goes out to support the following charities. Two are local to my community, and two are international
- The Urban Ministries of Durham, This 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 work to get people off homelessness and into permanent jobs and permanent housing. Last year they ended homelessness for 287 people. Anyone interested in seeing what a local organization can do, and do brilliantly, should check out their work at http://umdurham.org/.
- Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. This too is a terrific agency that deals with food distribution to the needy throughout my part of the state. The quantity of food they collect from all kinds of sources and the complex distribution process they undertake are logistically mind boggling. They literally keep people from starving. You can see what they are about at http://www.foodbankcenc.org
The other two agencies that the Blog supports are internationally well known and do not need much comment from me. I have supported their work for years and am a true believer in what they do.
- CARE. Care is an international relief agency that works in nearly 90 countries. As they say: “implementing long-term programs to fight poverty, responding to humanitarian emergencies, and advocating for policy change to improve the lives of the poorest people.” They deal with heart-rending problems with dignity and integrity: http://www.care.org/
- Doctors without Borders. This is one of the truly great humanitarian charities in the world, without a question, a bright light shining in our universe. By their own summary: “Doctors Without Borders provides medical care to people in nearly 70 countries worldwide, saving lives threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe. As a humanitarian organization, we treat people in crisis regardless of race, religion, or political affiliation.: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/
I will have these charities listed now on the Philanthropy page.
IF YOU DON”T BELONG TO THE BLOG YET, now is your big chance! You can see it does great things for needy people. Most important, by joining you give yourself a great benefit — access to masses of information about the New Testament, the historical Jesus, and the history of early Christianity. So JOIN!!!