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Mike Umlandt is Mr. Mom. He didn't ask for the role, but his wife and three children are doing whatever it takes to make up for his layoff in December from a $50,000 a year job as editorial director of the Luis Palau Evangelistic Association (LPEA) in Portland, Oregon.

Umlandt wants to stay in the Beaverton area and work as a freelance writer so his daughter, April, a sophomore, can finish high school there. "My wife started working, my boys are delivering newspapers, and I am doing the housework. We don't eat out, and we don't spend money on anything we don't absolutely need."

In addition to laying off employees at its headquarters, the LPEA, an $11.5 million ministry, recently closed its offices in Guatemala and Argentina. Spokesman Kevin Palau said the organization used up its $500,000 reserve fund, cut spending by $1 million, and still lost $100,000 in 2002.

Other prominent ministries are also cutting back, not filling open positions, and laying off workers, according to the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. Paul Nelson, ECFA president, told The Gazette of Colorado Springs that donations to many, but not all, Christian organizations are down.

Several ministry officials cited various factors for the decline, including Y2K worries, the recession, an unstable stock market, the September 11 terrorist attacks, fears of future terrorism, and the Iraq War. A recent poll found that 42 percent of Americans said 9/11 disaster relief controversies reduced their faith in nonprofits.

According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, the percentage of Americans who donated to charity declined from 87 percent in 2001 to 77 percent last year. Private donations to colleges and universities dropped by 2.5 percent in the same period. ...

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April 2003

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