Investing in Live Stock

November 16, 2009

Leah earns 6,000 pesos/month teaching at the Montessori School in Ozamiz City on Mindanao in the Philippines. That’s approximately US $125, depending on the exchange rate. She’s applied for a position with a public school for the coming academic year. She’ll earn 16,000 pesos/month (US$335) plus benefits. And the school will be closer to her home and village.

Please send Leah all your good thoughts and best wishes. She’s worked hard for this opportunity and the extra money will make a world of difference for her family.

Leah’s a resourceful and determined young woman. To supplement her salary, she bought a pig. She pays approximately US$20 for a pig. Then she raises it and sells it, making about US$140. When I attended her graduation from La Salle University Ozamiz in October 2007, she had her pig butchered and cooked to make luchon, a traditional Filipino dish, to honor and thank me, “her benefactor,” and her family and friends. For her graduation celebration, we traveled to a local beach resort. Friends and family came from miles to join the feast.

Leah has two pigs now as an investment. Her brother, Juven, feeds and cares for the pigs. He’ll get a cut of the profits when they sell the pigs. Leah had planned to prepare luchon again for Christmas, when I had hoped to visit. Not this year. I’ll be working–the prize for being the most recent hire at the newspaper.

I’ll be there in spirit.

Remember this holiday season, $20 can make an enormous difference in a young woman’s life. Leah buys pigs to supplement her salary. Your donation of $20 will help provide a college education to another scholarship recipient.

Please help us continue to send young women to college with scholarships from Isis Initiative, Inc. You can donate through PayPal on our Web site or send a check.

Thank you.

Tally ho

September 1, 2009

I spent my week combing through files and tallying numbers. I read bank account summaries and checked and double checked receipts.

Our first fiscal year ended on June 30, 2009 and we need to file our first tax return for Isis Initiative, Inc. Sam, our treasurer, lost the records and data she’d organized for us when her computer crashed earlier this year. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I’m a big fan of paper and ink, so I have copies of everything on hand that Sam had stored in zeroes and ones on her now-dead hard drive.

I’m not a fan of numbers, though, so the process has been time-consuming. Today I sent our board members a breakdown of our donations/income and our expenditures. It was a modest first year if we focus only on the numbers in the columns.

Beyond the spreadsheets and the IRS forms, there’s a value and return on investment that defies quantifying: one young lady, Marethel Guinsayo, will leave her job as a maid and realize her dream of attending college, starting a five-year teacher education program next month on Mindanao in the Philippines.

Our First Fiscal Year

June 30, 2009

First, a shout out to Francesco’s, the lovely gelato shop in downtown Corvallis. I’m sitting in a comfy chair by the window, laptop on my lap, composing this post. (I’m not having gelato: I’m helping myself to the free Internet access.)

Today marks the end of our first full fiscal year. We haven’t accomplished all our goals, especially where fundraising is concerned; yet, we’ve made great progress. Our paperwork for 501(c)(3) status is with the IRS. We’re registered with the Oregon Department of Justice. We hosted two fundraising events.

Thanks to Phil McClain, who works at Oregon State University and has volunteered his time and expertise to create a database for us.

Michael Peterman (husband of Melanthia, our secretary) gave us a generous donation to close our books on a high note.

We have much to celebrate this year and much to do in the coming year. Hint: Anyone who’d like to host a fundraiser or has ideas on ways to raise money and/or awareness for our organization, please let us know.  A golf tournament? A dance? A photo exhibit?

I’m heading home now to call Leah. I usually call her at 9 or 10 p.m. and find her 16 hours ahead in the Philippines. We’re working on the selection of the next scholarship candidate. I’ll save the report on the latest hiccups in our process for my next post.

The Language of Numbers

March 13, 2009

“I love numbers,” Kathy DeYoung said.

Kathy is a CPA and the founder of Financial Stewardship Resources, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides training to charitable organizations. I attended FSR’s “Nonprofit Organization Board Training in Corvallis in January.

I love words. Numbers unnerve me, which is why I sought Kathy’s advice and she graciously offered to look over my IRS Form 1023 as I prepare it for submission.

I know numbers can tell stories. Someone like Kathy or my friend, Jeanene, can look at a spread sheet or a balance sheet–heck, any sheet of paper with numbers–and read a story among the digits and columns and lines. Exactly the same way I read a sentence or a paragraph and uncover a story, or a theme, or a visual picture in my mind.

Numbers are indeed a language. I speak English, French and Arabic. I don’t speak numbers.

Kathy said for most people the narrative of the nonprofit is the most difficult part of the Form 1023 application. The applicant is asked to tell the story of the nonprofit. My favorite part. I did it first.

But, do a three-year budget? I whimper. I procrastinate. And then I run for help.

I want to learn how to tell, share and read a story in numbers. With a little help from my friends, I’ll learn a new language.