The program expense ratio shows where their money is spent. For the James River Association, they’re spending 75% of their money on Programs, with 11% spent on Administrative costs and 14% on Fundraising. We always like to see as high a number spent on Programs vs. the necessary overhead of administrative and fundraising costs.
Based on those numbers, we’ll make a cheat sheet of all the charities we’re considering.
Name in IRS Master File: JAMES RIVER ASSOCIATION
Any other names they may be doing business as
To easily look up details on the 3 sites
IRS Ruling Year: 1977
From IRS Line L on the first page shows how long they’ve been operating as a non-profit
Subject Area: Water resources / Rivers and lakes
From GuideStar describing the work they do
NTEE code info: Water Resource, Wetlands Conservation and Management (C32)
From GuideStar describing the work they do
Mission: Environmental Protection and Conservation
From Charity Navigator
Total Revenue: $4,871,432
Total Expenses: $3,033,469
Program Service Expenses: $2,176,224
*Program Spending: 72%
Calculated from IRS 990 forms or Charity Navigator
To see how they present themselves and their work
The James River Association is a no-go for us. Based on their Total Revenues for the past several years, all of them are 7-figures, so our impact would be a bucket of water in their proverbial river.
Reading an IRS 990 Form - Bearding Ain’t All Fun & Shenanigans
If the charity has not submitted information to either Charity Navigator or GuideStar, which is a common thing, you’ll have to sift through the numbers yourself. But don’t worry, we’ve done it plenty of times, so here are the numbers and where to find them!
Based on the annual income of the charity, they could fill out any one of 3 forms, with increasing level of reporting detail. If it's under $50k, they can file a basic 990-N postcard that provides basic organizational info. If they took in over $50k that year, there's the 990-EZ form. If they raised more than $200k, they have to fill in the standard, detailed form. What they have on file with the IRS and the info available to you depends on that.
From the IRS 990 forms that you found from the first link above (https://apps.irs.gov/app/eos/), you’ll want to note each of the following. These numbers are from a filing for the Old Dominion Professional Firefighters Burn Foundation.
Total Revenue: Part I, Row 12, Current Year Column - how much they took in that year, and to get an idea of what sort of impact your donation could have on their organization
Program Service Accomplishments: Part III: All the Row 4’s - how much was spent on which programs
Conducted an ABLS course with the proceeds from the DuPont grant - Expenses $4,250
Made direct disbursements to firefighters suffering from burns - Expenses $1,770
Provided refreshments for activities at the Evans-Haynes Burn Center - Expenses $397
Total expenses: Part IX, Row 25, Col A
Program service expenses: Part IX, Row 25, Col B
Management and general expenses: Part IX, Row 25, Col C
Fundraising expenses: Part IX, Row 25, Col D
It’s good to see the breakdown of what money was spent where. Part III, Row 4 lists what programs their money was spent on, and based on our math, we can see that it was 71% of their expenditures in 2019.
Here's the full list of what we collect and compare:
Name in IRS Master File:
Year Granted 501(c)(3) Status:
AREA OF IMPACT
NTEE code info:
Total Revenue: (990: Part I, Row 12, Current Year Column; 990-EZ Part 1, Row 9)
Total Expenses: (990: Part IX, Row 25, Col A; 990-EZ Part 1, Row 17)
Program Service Expenses: (990: Part III: All the Row 4’s; 990-EZ Part III, Row 32)
Program Spending: (Calculated percentage)
Reporting From Small Non-Profits
If the non-profit has taken in less than $50,000 that year, there won’t be any detailed information like this. All they need to file is an annual 990-N (e-Postcard). If you’re interested in the work they do, in the past we’ve reached out to them, let them know what we were doing, the potential benefit to them, and frankly asked where the money goes.
From there, it’s a matter of balancing the objectives of the non-profit in question, what they do with their money, and which is the best fit for your club/event.
If you have any other tips or tricks your club has picked up along the way, let us know on social media or at firstname.lastname@example.org!