Saturday, July 31, 2010

Who says a liberal arts education doesn't pay?

I often hear that a liberal arts education is pointless. After all, what can you really do with a degree in, say, history? Isn't it better to pursue a more defined skill set, like nursing? Or engineering? Nursing and engineering are great, but as the proud recipient of a fine liberal arts education I know that the history courses I took in college taught me how to think and learn and prepared me for a whole host of different employment possibilities.

According to this report in the Kansas City Business Journal, a liberal arts education from one particular KC school can be quite lucrative. With a median starting pay of $47,100 and a mid-career median pay level of $87,000, it's clear that a liberal arts education is definitely something worth pursuing.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Nonprofit Connect - Another Great Resource for Kansas City Nonprofits

As a few of my recent posts have pointed out, Kansas City is blessed with a fantastic nonprofit sector that is well-supported by its generous citizens. I thought I'd point our loyal readers to another great resource for Kansas City nonprofits - Nonprofit Connect. As a professional in the nonprofit sector, I have found the educational seminars and networking opportunities provided by Nonprofit Connect to be an invaluable asset to me and my work here at the BBB. This blog is the direct result of information I received from Nonprofit Connect's 2009 Philanthropy Midwest Conference. I already have this year's conference (November 8-9) on my calendar.

If you are involved with the nonprofit sector here in Kansas City, I suggest that you explore how Nonprofit Connect can help you.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Dealing with Door-to-Door Roofing Salespersons

In the past year, the Kansas City area has seen new developments in the roofing industry.  Roofing companies new to the area brought their sales tactics with them.  We have had numerous phone calls from consumers who are dubious about door-to-door salesmen who are approaching them about replacing hail-damaged roofs. Many callers feel pressured into signing contracts and feel that they purchased something they do not want or need.  These salesmen often target areas that have not had hail in years.  Based on the calls and inquiries we've received from customers, we have compiled some tips on what you can do to protect yourself from predatory salespersons.

1. Contact the Better Business Bureau when you are contacted by a roofing company.  The BBB receives more inquiries on Roofers than any other type of business.  Nationwide, the BBB received over two million inquiries on Roofing companies 2009, seven hundred thousand higher than the second highest type of business. Analysis of our records shows that Roofing companies settled only 61% of complaints filed with the BBB, so it is a good idea to make sure they address their complaints before doing business with them.  In the Kansas City area alone, we have reliability reports on over six hundred roofers.

2. Don't sign anything during a first visit unless you are absolutely sure it's what you want.  Give yourself time to get other estimates. Don't feel pressured into signing anything.  Salespeople ask for your business, they cannot demand it.  You are under no obligation to do anything, and until you contact other roofing companies, you don't know if you're even getting a good deal.  Unless you have knowledge of the industry you will not know if you are saving money.

3. Make sure you need a new roof before asking your insurance company to pay for its replacement.  Your roof may only need minor repairs and if you report damage to your insurance company, you may end up paying your deductible and increasing the price of your insurance.

4. Don't sign over power of attorney. A business with a vested interest in getting your money should not have power to make home repair decisions for you. Whether or not the company's intentions are honorable, there is no need to take such steps for a roof.  It is your money and your home.  If you don't feel qualified to make decisions about home repair, find a trusted individual and ask them to do it for you.

5. Remember, if you sign a contract in your home, you have three (3) business days to cancel for any reason. There are no restrictions or exceptions to this.  A door-to-door salesman cannot lock anyone into a contract on the spot.  If you decide to cancel, be sure to send the notice of cancellation by mail or fax as well as telephoning the company.

6. If you file an insurance claim, it WILL count against your policy.  No matter what the salesperson tells you, filing a claim with your insurance company, whether it's denied or not, can affect the price of your policy.  Contact your agent and ask what normal procedures for claims.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Missouri Senate Passes Bill to Keep Ford Motor Plant

There have been plenty of rumbling about the fate of the Claycomo, MO Ford plant.  The plant currently produces the popular F-150 and has been subject of speculation about closure.  The Missouri Senate passed a bill to provide extensive tax breaks to the company that would save them $150 million over the next ten years.  Governor Jay Nixon endorsed the tax breaks in order to remain competitive with other states and hopefully entice Ford to keep and possibly upgrade the plant.

The bill is aimed to keep one of the largest employers in the state from finding a new location.  While it costs the state a considerable amount of income, and there is no guarantee Ford will remain here, it was better than losing 3700 taxpayers who were possibly getting laid off. If those Missouri taxpayers moved out of the state to find new jobs, the damage would be even more considerable.

The bill passed on July 14 despite a 21 hour filibuster and is awaiting Gov. Jay Nixon's signature.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

So How Big IS the Nonprofit sector in Kansas City?

You'll recall that a few weeks ago, I blogged about a report released by the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation on giving in our area. But what organizations are the beneficiaries of that generosity? While many people give to organizations far and abroad, a lot of Kansas City's charitable contributions stay here at home. And there are many organizations in need. A report from the Midwest Center on Nonprofit Leadership gives us the details about our local nonprofit sector and where donations to local charities go. Here are a few interesting tidbits from the report.

*In 2008, the Kansas City metro area had 8010 public charities. This number does not include an estimated 1500 religious congregations.

*59% of KC's charitable organization have revenues of less than $25,000 annually. That's 4700 charities working with very tiny budgets.

*Health charites account for only 10% of the total number of charitable organizations in our area, but bring in more than half of all the revenues in the local nonprofit sector.

*Human Service organizations (food banks, domestic violence shelters, etc.) account for 25% of the charities in our area, but receive only 10% of revenues.

The Kansas City BBB's Charity Review program evaluates organizations with more the $25,000 in revenues according to the Charity Accountability Standards. To see a growing list of local charity reports click here. If you would like to see your favorite charity listed with us, email me at charityreview@kansascity.bbb.org.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Drowning Doesn't Look Like Drowning

This has very little to do with businesses, charities, or anything else we usually concern ourselves with here, but as a mother who is terrified of her kids not breathing, I think this article on how to recognize someone drowning is worth sharing. The author's key point is that drowning is a silent event and not the loud arm-thrashing, wailing show of distress we see in the movies. This is especially true for children. As the author puts it, "Childen in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why."

Be safe this summer. Oh, and wisely conduct business and charity transactions. There, that makes this post relevant.