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No Jail Time For Prison Fellowship Ministries

Published 12/01/2007

An AIP member forwarded to us a solicitation letter she received from Prison Fellowship Ministries (PFM) earlier this year. Included with the letter was a bright, yellow slip of paper which read in large letters, “EMERGENCY FINANCIAL UPDATE: Budget Shortfall!” It went on to say, “We had high hopes to end 2006 in the black, but unfortunately, we are facing a $1,000,000 shortfall. You can imagine our disappointment when we recently had to make the difficult decision to lay off some of our employees.”

Donors need to be careful to understand what they are reading. A budget shortfall simply means that the charity did not raise as much money as it needed to cover its expenses within that same year. It does not mean that the group is $1 million in debt. In fact, because PFM had money saved up from previous years, it had more than enough funds available to cover a $1 million shortfall in 2006. The group ended its year with $38.9 million in total net assets, including about $12.4 million of available assets once property and equipment and permanently restricted assets are excluded. While PFM may have chosen to lay off workers, it was not because it did not have the funds to pay them. After multiple attempts to contact the charity, PFM could not be reached for comment as of publication time.