June 16, 2013 by Leo Walker, President of HIKE for Mental Health
CNN recently reported on “America’s Worst Charities,” naming groups that spent as little a 3% of donated money on their supposed missions. It is tragic that some people would set up essentially sham nonprofits designed prey on donors’ generosity and others’ misfortune in order to line their own pockets.
Tragic, but unfortunately not all that shocking.
Although these sham charities are a small minority of many thousand of non-profits doing good work every day, stories like this cast a cloud over all of us. As consumers, we have learned to bring a bit of skepticism to anyone asking us for money, and that is good.
Discriminating donors are our best friends
At HIKE for Mental Health, savvy, discriminating donors are our best friends, and we encourage everyone to carefully research any group to whom you are considering making a donation. Let describe clearly how we raise and use money at HIKE for Mental Health:
We are an all-volunteer organization, with an all-volunteer Board and all-volunteer leadership. No one connected with HIKE for Mental Health receives a single cent, directly or indirectly, from the organization.
We raise money primarily by asking hikers to collect sponsorships for their hikes. 100% of the funds raised from the hikes go to our mission causes. 0% goes to fundraising or overhead.
So how do we fund the running of the organization?
First of all, we just don’t spend that much money. For all of last year, we spend less than $2,000 on operating costs (primarily for hosting for our website, credit card fees to allow us to collect donations online, database software to maintain our hikers and sponsors information securely, brochures, and shirts).
The bulk of our operating funds come out of the pockets of the organizations’ founders and current Board members. Obviously, this is not a sustainable model long-term and we do hope to find corporate sponsors to help under-write our operating costs as the organization grows. But so far, and until that happens, the majority of the operating costs will continue to be borne by us personally. We do this because (a) we believe in the cause (b) we think it is important to put our own money in if we are asking others to do so and (c) we want sponsors of our hikers to know that 100% of their donations go to the purpose for which they made the donation.
The other source of income for operations is through donations for HIKE for Mental Health shirts. The shirts cost us about $12 delivered and we ask for a $20 donation. The $8 difference we put into our operating funds.
A minor source of operating funding is our association with GoodSearch, GoodShop, and GoodDining by which we receive a small amount (generally 1-5%) if you search, shop, or dine through the GoodSearch network of sites. If you haven’t checked this out, it is totally free to participate and doesn’t cost you a cent extra. in fact, there are often very good coupons available that save you money. Last year, we received about $45 because of supporters using this network – thank you!
Committed to complete transparency
We are committed to complete transparency in our raising and spending of money, so if you ever have any questions, just let me know. I will be happy to share our federal 990 form or show you our detailed financial statements. You can also check our our seal of approval from GuideStar, which certifies the transparency of nonprofit organizations.
Thank you to all our hikers, sponsors, donors, Facebook friends, and shirt-wearers! With you continued support, we will overcome the stigma of mental illness, advance scientific research leading to better understanding and treatments, and help preserve the wilderness trails that bring so many of us peace of mind in this hectic world.