Economic return

To the editor,

I read Barbara Goodmon’s column [“New prescription for social ills”, Philanthropy Journal, 01.11.05] and can give you a set of numbers to illustrate how good an investment it is.

Three years ago, I would not have realized what the economic returns were on the investment we put into helping our neighbors in need, because I’ve worked from within the church organization for over 40 years and we focused solely on helping fill specific needs.

We never tried to count the cost or all the assistance benefits in dollars.

After starting Basic Needs Ministry, a clothing ministry in Garner, with the goal of providing $50,000 a year in benefits to our neighbors, we converted it to a public charity.

Then the IRS and North Carolina forms arrived and we had to look at the dollars in inventory and the various categories of people in the community who were benefiting and try to figure what the benefits were.

Even without our year-end figures from 2004, North Carolina residents profited over $1 million in our first 20 months.

They were our clothing donors who wrote off over $575,000 in tax deductions, our neighbors who received over $250,000 worth of free clothing, those who supported our sales and saved almost $200,000, the business community that rejoiced when the tax refunds arrived, the governor who was relieved when the sales tax started arriving, and the citizens who didn’t have to face program cuts.

Basic Needs delivered to the people of North Carolina. The annual investment to run this entire program is budgeted at $35,000, which is less than the average salary and benefits of one state employee.

We do it without salary and as volunteers because we believe it is our duty to our neighbors.

Basic Needs is $60,000 in debt because the community has not made the commitment to invest $35,000 a year in order to receive over $800,000 in benefits.

In one year, the return is almost 23 times the investment. How can North Carolinians afford to not support the needy?

Ronald Still, founder and director, Basic Needs Ministry, Garner, N.C.

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