SmartMoney Magazine has run a monthly series for many years of "10 things" the smart consumer/contributor/buyer/etc. should worry about "that the seller/non-profit/vendor/etc won't tell you". In the December 2009 issue, they did this regarding non-profits. We are a non-profit, possibly unique in the fact that we are self-funded and really don't follow the normal non-profit script. Nonetheless, you (the grantees, our own trustees, the women and children who are our ultimate beneficiaries, and any other interested parties, should be aware of JUST HOW WE DIFFER. Following are the three pages of the article, as well as our responses numbered to reference to the "10 things"
1. Our fund-raising is unlike most non-profits you will come across. All (that is 100%) of our funds come to us from our Founder's pockets, none from anyone else.
2. We are not saints either, but we come much closer insofar as we (from our 2000 incorporation through the beginning of the year 2010) have paid no executive (or anyone else) compensation and of the monies that we have expended during these first 10 years, fully 99.6% has been paid out as grants to grantees specified on Our grantees page and less than half of 1% (only 0.4%) has been expended on overhead of any kind (including the incorporation fees to the State of Texas and all legal and accounting and tax services).
3. Even in the years 2009 and 2010 while (the world, the USA) almost everyone was experiencing a serious economic set-back (and our Founder was similarly suffering as was everyone else), we maintained the same level as the previous years' grants to our grantees. While we can not be positive that if this economic situation continues beyond 2010, we will be able to continue this level of grants, we do have the resources to maintain such a level and probably will continue that level.
4. Because we were initially founded based upon our desire for such transparency (see beliefs) and we worked for years to make this happen by requiring our grantees to live with complete transparency, we were pleased to discover (after 8 to 9 years of our trying) that most of the other (meaning, even the charitable organizations that we do not make grants to) local organizations are moving towards complete transparency. We, of course, have created this web-site and all of its pages to do our part in allowing any interested party to see what we do and how we do it. And, of course, we also file form 990ez in accordancw with USA's IRS regulations, even though our disclosures in our own financial statements disclose even more than we are required to disclose.
5. As we disclosed above, our mission takes 99.6% of our funds and our overhead takes 00.4%. Whether or not it was spent wisely is subjective. We think so, but judge for yourself at Our grantees listing as well as in all other parts of both the http://www.mpwcf.org/index-mpwcf.htm portion of this website or the entire MPWINSMA interests which includes many other things we do or did in San Miguel (see both http://www.mpwcf.org/index.html for the overview or http://www.mpwcf.org/community_services.htm for the background and history of our other community services..
6. We, too, got hit by the economic crisis. However, since we planned for such an eventuality and had a strong and completely diversified investment portfolio to back us up, we suggest you look at two pages that discuss this and our future. See history-estimates and funding
7. Luckily, we don't have the same distractions that the article mentions. We know where all of our funds are coming from and when we expect them to arrive.
8. Our initial intent was to support the women and children of San Miguel. Except in the early years when we did not have our full roster of acceptable grantees, all monies have gone to local grantees whose mission, in turn, is the women and children of San Miguel. Absent any significant reason for changing this focus (and such a reason would then be disclosed on this website), we have no reason to believe that that would ever change, either during the Founder's lifetime or after his death.
9. We did just what the article suggests needed to be done, and was done, by our own volunteers. And it was done at virtually no monetary cost to us.
10. We take our tax-exempt status very seriously and do everything that is required by both the IRS and the State of Texas. Actually, we take our own mission and our motto even more seriously. That motto is and will remain "Underpromise and Overdeliver".
If you have any questions, or if you think we did not answer anything completely, please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will answer any questions right here on this web-page.
In November 2010, Kiplinger's ONLINE published the same (but somewhat different) thoughts and we show them below as well.
7 Ways to Check Out a Charity
Make sure you’re donating to a first-rate organization. By Jane Bennett Clark, Senior Associate Editor
Here are seven measures of a charity’s ability to deliver on your good intentions:
Efficiency. Expect the charity to devote at least 75% of its budget to programs, with the remaining 25% going to administrative costs and fund-raising. Seven out of ten charities meet or exceed the 75% standard, says Matt Viola, of Charity Navigator, a charity evaluator. Those that allocate more than 25% on overhead are wasting precious resources
MPWCF note: We obviously agree as our entire overhead, from our 1993 origin through the end of the June 30 2010 fiscal year, amounted to a cumulative us$643 compared to our cumulative receipts of us$124,018 (see our financial statement), an overhead percentage of about 1/2 of 1%, versus 99.5% to our programs (our mission) which compares extremely favorably to the above suggested 75% standard
Concrete results. Check the mission statement on the organization’s Web site to see that the group has clear goals and the ability to execute them. For instance, if the group claims to protect land, find out how much land it protected in a given period. Some nonprofits muddle along for years without making a dent in their core mission or achieving long-term results. If you have questions about a charity’s effectiveness, call the staff and invite them to respond.
MPWCF note: see our Goals & Mission
Assets. Charities must file Form 990 with the IRS annually. Look at the line that indicates whether the charity has ended the year with positive or negative assets. (If you can’t find the tax form on the charity’s Web site, call and ask for a copy.) Ending one year in negative territory doesn’t necessarily mean the organization is going under, says Laurie Styron, of the American Institute of Philanthropy, which rates charities. But if the organization comes up short for several years in a row, she says, “that’s an indication it could be winding down. Your contribution could be used to pay legal fees or creditors rather than the programs you are intending to support.”
MPWCF note: two things are important here. One, "your contribution" doesn't even have applicability for us since there is no "your contribution". All of our receipts come from the Founder himself (both now when he contributes the entire profit from the rentals of the two apartments for rent and after his death, when his executed estate documents already bequeath a great portion of his entire estate (see funding), the Foundation's portion of which amounts to us$2,837,100 calculated as of December 31, 2009 (and trending higher for the December 31, 2010 date). But, second. you can see our latest Form 990ez (we are too small for the Form 990 to apply) at Form 990ez starting in the near future as the IRS regulations have recently changed and now, we too, must file it annually.
Capital reserves. Tough as it may be for organizations to maintain reserves when times are tight, “it’s even more critical now because they might need that capital,” says Viola. To keep the lights on while donations are down, a charity should have at least six months’ to a year’s worth of working capital, expressed as “working capital ratio” at Charitynavigator.org.
MPWCF note: We have, prior to the Founder's death, much more than that now. And after his death, we shall have even more then.
Auditor’s commentary. Often attached to the charity’s annual report, the statement includes the auditor’s assessment of the charity’s health. Look for the word unqualified, which indicates that the auditor has signed off on the charity’s finances without reservation. Qualified means there is some issue, “and the auditor will specifically state what it is,” says Styron -- perhaps the loss of a major donor or a precipitous drop in contributions.
MPWCF note: The Founder, in addition to his professional career as a management and financial consultant which enabled him to accumulate his estate (see history-estimates), is an accredited (by both NY and NJ) Certified Public Accountant. Each year, at the date of the latest financial statement, the Founder gives his own certification that the Financial Statements present fairly the Financial activities of this Foundation. What IS lacking, of course, is "independence", something any CPA would need to certify these statements. The low overhead (see above) does not enable us to retain such an independent auditor. We do, however, open ourselves to a potential review or audit by any qualified volunteer should that volunteer see fit to do that for this Foundation.
Executive compensation. A salary of $158,000 represents the average annual pay for executives of medium-size to large charitable organizations, according to a 2009 survey by Charitynavigator.org. The executive of a complex, multi-million-dollar charity might justifiably command that amount or more, says Viola; not so much the CEO of a group that operates on $500,000 or less. “That’s a big part of the budget.”
MPWCF note: We "owe" (and have never paid yet) the President (the Founder) the sum of us$1.00 each year for his annual efforts.
Complaints. Most states not only require registration for charities that solicit within their borders but also track complaints against them. (Here's a list of the state agencies that regulate charities.) If your state does not require registration, look for information in states that do, such as New York, which provides a searchable database at www.charitiesnys.com. The Better Business Bureau also tracks complaints against charities.
MPWCF note: We not only do not solicit, we also do not accept, donations from anyone other than the Founder. Nonetheless, we are registered in the state of our incorporation, Texas, and we file annual reports as required by them.