Is Starfish Missions a ‘faith-based’ organization?
Yes. We partner with Christian missionaries and churches in the Dominican Republic and rely on these entities to help us identify children within their communities that qualify for assistance. If the children do not already have a church home, they are invited to attend services at one of the churches we have partnered with. Additionally, we provide children with fun, easy-to-read literature that explains what it means to be a Christian.
Will my contribution be tax deductible?
Yes. Starfish Missions is a non-profit organization that is exempt from Federal income tax under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code. All contributions are tax deductible. See our tax exempt approval from IRS.
Are there different options, or giving levels, to support the organization?
Yes. While the average cost to prepare a child for the public school system is just $75, Starfish will accept contributions of any amount. Some children have more needs than others, so smaller contributions are welcome and can certainly make a difference. Donors also have the opportunity to support as many children as they wish (e.g., $150 for 2 children). And finally, contributions to help defray general administrative costs of the organization are appreciated as well.
Are contributions expected to be a monthly commitment?
We welcome one-time gifts, without any expectation of an ongoing committment. For those who want to make monthly or quarterly commitments, we are glad to receive those as well. The timing of gifts is important, as we will travel to the Dominican Republic every August to purchase the items for the children. Gifts made after the annual August trip will be used for the following year’s trip.
What are the ages of the children supported by Starfish Missions?
Starfish supports any child that is eligible to enroll in the public school system, which ranges from Pre-school (4-yr.old) to high school.
Do I have the option of choosing a specific child to sponsor?
No. Assigning specific children to individual donors cannot be facilitated at this time. However, after each annual trip, donors for that year will receive a detailed report that includes pictures and names of all the children that were supported that year.
Will I be able to communicate with any of the children that are supported?
For the safety of the children, we cannot permit the sharing of phone numbers, email or mailing addresses. However, we can facilitate the exchange of letters by channeling them through the Starfish Missions organization. Additionally, Starfish Missions may be able to arrange for a donor to actually meet one or more of the children helped through Starfish, provided they are accompanied by a representative from Starfish Missions or the local church.
I have become really attached to one of the children. Can I send the family a special gift of $500?
No. We hear your generous heart, and it is a wonderful thought. But money used unwisely can disrupt the whole relationship, and $500 may be more than the child’s father earns in an entire year. The gift could destroy his dignity and throw the family structure into chaos. Additionally, a family that is suddenly responsible for a large sum of money can quickly become victims of crime as they are soon targeted by others. If you have extra to give, we would recommend sponsoring a second or third child.
Does the organization have anyone on staff that is compensated?
No. Starfish Missions is operated entirely by volunteers. The principals/board members do not take a salary.
Why do you support a foreign country, when there are plenty of needs here in the U.S.?
The Bible is very clear about the importance of taking the Good News to all nations (Matt. 28:19; Luke 24:47; Mark 16:15), as God’s love has no boundaries (Rev. 5:9). But we also believe that God lays different burdens on the hearts of different people for different reasons.
We recognize that there are local needs within our own communities and across the U.S., and we pray that those who are burdened with those needs are actively doing something to address those needs. Likewise, we pray that those who have been called to act on their global burdens are actively serving in that way. We have a great understanding of what God has called us to do, and we are just being faithful to what He has laid on our hearts. As long as we can appreciate those who desire to serve locally, and they – in turn – can appreciate those of us who serve globally…then together, we’ll be able to reach more people.
How will I know my contribution is going directly to the children?
Unless a donor has specifically requested that their contribution be used for the general operating expenses of the organization, all contributions are spent on the educational needs of the children. We organize a mission trip to the Dominican Republic each August to physically serve the children ourselves…taking them to the stores to be outfitted for uniforms and proper shoes. Following the trip, donors will receive a report containing the names and ages of all the children and their pictures. Donors may request financial information for Starfish Missions at any time.
It should be noted that occasionally, we receive more contributions for certain items than can be wisely applied to those items (e.g., support for 20 pairs of shoes is generated, while contributions for only 10 uniforms is received). When that happens, Starfish retains the right to allocate the funds in a manner that is most beneficial for the children so that every child supported is provided with everything they need to enroll in school.
In addition to uniforms and basic school supplies, don’t the children need books as well?
Books are expensive. So the public schools located in the distressed parts of the Dominican Republic do not require students to purchase books, so long as they have notebooks to take notes during class. However, the teachers are personally responsible for purchasing their own lesson plans to teach from – which is often a struggle as well.