Main Street Philanthropy

There are many ways to evaluate a company. Checking a company’s tax form can show whether the company is using their income in an efficient way. Out of all of them, I think that leadership is the most important when evaluating a company. They are the ones deciding for the entirety of the company. If the leaders are not good at what they do, the company won’t be able to continue to run as well.

It’s important to look at the tax returns before investing in a company. By looking at a company’s tax returns, you can determine whether they are worthwhile to invest in. Checking the tax returns can show how much the company has earned and where they are using that money. From the organizations I observed, I learned that it is important to have enough resources to sustain the company when there is no income.

Giving money away to charities is a way you can avoid taxes. It is very important to research the charity before giving  your money away. The charity you donate to can possibly be a scam. Checking the tax forms of charities is important since you can tell whether they are using the money they receive for their cause or pocketing it.

The two organizations I researched were the Scripps Research Institute and the Prostate Cancer Foundation. The goal of the Scripps Research Institute is to diagnose, treat, and investigate diabetes and other metabolism disorders.  The goal of the Prostate Cancer Foundation is to end death from prostate cancer. Both of the charity’s goals aligned with our goal of treating disease and illness.

Our final charity that we chose was the Scripps Research Institute. The Scripps Research Institute managed the funds it received well and put all of it into medical research. Out of all of the charities we researched, they were the most polite and allowed us to visit on short notice.

I hope that our donation will allow them to continue to thrive and make medical breakthroughs that will help many people. To help the Scripps Research Institute and other charities related with medical research, I would like to donate, even if it’s just a little.

Education

Education is the most important thing that we can bestow upon our society. With a greater level of education comes more job opportunities, greater financial stability, and less fear. Because education is so important, I decided to investigate two non-profits, in two different fields, that focus on providing resources and funding to educators and students. The first non-profit is the newly established VAPA Foundation, which focuses on provided resources and grants to VAPA teachers and students in San Diego, and the second is the National Center for Science Education, which focuses on building communities for teachers to accurately teach sciences that are being disputed by the masses.

The VAPA Foundation (VF) is a private organization that seeks to fill the gaps left by San Diego Unified School District in the visual and performing arts. The director of VAPA for SDUSD is the treasurer for the VF; he conducted the district-honor ensemble two years ago that I was a part of. As I have been in VAPA programs for 9 years, I know how vital donations are to the programs; after hearing that a full non-profit is stepping in and is beginning supporting the arts excited me, and I knew I wanted to get involved. I spoke with their management about their vision for the future, and was able to analyze the self-reported financial data that they had released. While I did enjoy my conversation with them very much – and agree with their mission – their finances raised some questions. They are a young organization, and hopefully as they become more established, they become more efficient and can have greater footprint in the community.

The National Center for Science Education, based in Oakland, CA, focuses on supported teachers who are teaching evolution and climate change in areas where such topics are controversial. In California, where evolution and climate change are accepted as the science that they are, we often dismiss the battle scientists face in the rest of the country – the NCSE has picked up that slack. As Californians, climate change may pose the greatest threat to us out of all the states. But as we begin to understand the long term effects of climate change, we begin to realize that the nation as a whole, and the world as a whole is at great risk. The NCSE goes into states where such urgency is not felt and/or not understood, and provides teachers with the resources they need to teach climate change correctly. Their mission drew me to them, and I analyzed their From 990, which revealed that they were a strong, solvent organization that has the money to support their programs. Furthermore, their liquid assets they have invested in securities all reflect the mission of the NCSE: their assets are invested consciously, and they do not invest in oil companies, or companies contributing to mis-education. What really put them over the top for me was my discussion I had with their management. I was able to speak with their Director of Development, who was very helpful in answering all of my questions. My conversation with the Director revealed that the management team of the NCSE truly cares about their issues, and convinced me that the nonprofit had the financial strength and the management team to garner my vote for the nonprofit my group should donate to.

Insider Investments

Evaluating a company can never be black and white; it can never be a numbers game. Like a basketball game, some may believe the team with better statistics will win, but this isn’t always the team you root for. Practically this doesn’t make sense, yet you can find it in any everyday life occurrence. The reason why we humans tend to gravitate towards certain companies, teams, and people, is because of their purpose. The New York Yankees are a team to solely represent New York and win the world series for them; this is what makes them appealing to those who live there. The purpose of a company, in this case a non-profit organization, is to seek financial assistance from the public in order to fund a more efficient way of supporting those in need. But what separates and isolates each charity is their ideals, their morals, their outlook and decisions they make towards helping those who need it. If you don’t personally agree with what that company is doing, there is no reason to ever donate money to them right? What I’ve learned  to do when investing in a company is never settling for almost. In these circumstance, investing is either perfect or a complete bust; there is no difference in supporting a company that does not correlate to your ideals than supporting one that is somewhat similar to your ideals. It’s not easy to find the perfect company, but that’s why researching is so important in the process. Mediocrity is just not something you can strive for and feel completely satisfied with when finished.

Now I’m not saying that numbers are irrelevant, as if they don’t play into decision making. Numbers are the support behind a company’s ideals. If the company you gravitate to, for reasons previously stated, happens to utilize only 2% of their funding for actually helping others, then you’ve run into a granite wall. This company may share your ideals, but they are not efficient. Non-profit organizations are still businesses at heart, they still need money to run their electricity and programs and operations. But with this fact comes the truth, that not all businesses are run well. If your favorite type of hot dogs are sold by a certain brand, but every time you bought them the packaging tore open in your grocery bag spilling hot dog juice on your new box of cereal, you wouldn’t buy them again. The company’s pitch is important but if they can not accomplish what they want or propose, then they are not worth investing in. The numbers don’t say it all about a company but they definitely provide a peace of mind.

Giving away money is something to take lots of consideration into the process, but you didn’t need me to tell you that. What makes my experience elevating and fulfilling compared to the common sense we are born with is how we take our personal charities into perspective. How is this money that we are willingly handing over for no monetary reimbursement or dividends going to make any difference in our society or even in our own lives. Donating money with purpose is what makes it meaningful and truly helpful. You don’t need to start your own charity or sacrifice time you don’t have in order to help. I’ve learned that with donating money comes not only self fulfillment of aiding something you want to see change in, but opens a new broad moral scope on the world. MSP has opened the sun roof of my car, something that has always been there but I had never used before. I had tend to only open my four door windows, creating opportunities for myself but still blind to the massive potential my car (my life) had so easily accessible. MSP has helped me realize what donating money really means, what it really does, and how I can make sure it doesn’t go to waste.

By using the tools MSP had bestowed upon me, I was able to choose two organizations that I felt corresponded perfectly with ideals I hold close to myself. Both organizations are of the hospital and medical branches; health is something I feel is dire in our society to keep us functioning. The Salk Institute for Biological Studies is a non-profit organization that uses its donations in near perfect efficiency in order to tackle the big name and obscure medical conditions. They study in such wide range of biological studies with out the killer trade off of accuracy and depth in research. This efficiency matches with my own ideals because of how broad their studies are without sacrificing proper analysis of each department. Another organization was St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Though being a very different type of charity, it was not any less perfectly aligning to my own beliefs than the Salk Institute. In the growing prices of hospital and health expenses, many families are left in the dust with no one to help them pay for necessities of health. Those who are unfortunate enough to have children or family that suffer from illness but not the income to pay for treatment are aided by this children’s research hospital. These organizations have helped me focus my efforts on new and old outlooks.

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies was the final organization that my group had chosen to donate our fundraiser money to. Though a few charities all matched up in unison with our mission, Salk had the stability to back up their research. With the financial efficiency they had developed, they would be able to sustain themselves for years without a cent more in donations. Not only was this organization one that really made a difference in the world, but it was able to continue its aid for those who need it regardless of how others influenced them.

The money we have donated to the institute may not be enough on its own to spark a new study or pay for a new lab, but it is progress in funding that will eventually lead to things like this. The institute was more than grateful for our donation because not only do the small numbers add up to benefit those in need, but it shows those at Salk that there are young students like us that care for their work and efforts, support that can not be translated into monetary value. Our own efforts by themselves could not impact the world, but when combined with those who share the same mission, any effort despite its size will impact our society without doubt. Institutes like Salk even offer those of our generation opportunities in studying the fields in which the push for progress in on a global scale. MSP and Salk have allowed my group and myself to learn of the impact a truly thought out donation.

MSP project

  1. Checking the numbers is the most important step to take when choosing a company to invest in/donate to. This is because even if a charity appears to have definite goals and strong leadership, they may lack proper fund allocation. Checking tax forms can tell a potential donor if the company uses funds to actually help the cause, or if their priorities are elsewhere. From evaluating tax forms from various charities, I learned that poor money management is a deal breaker for me as to if I decide to donate there or not. I felt much more confident about donating to the Environmental Health Coalition once I was able to see exactly where they were using funds. Evaluating tax forms also gave me a more clear idea of leadership in the organization because well-managed finances imply eligible and qualified people in charge. Tax forms are the most telling aspect of a charity, and are important to consider.
  2. I chose to research the Environmental Health Coalition and the San Diego Oceans Foundation. Environmental Health Coalition works to repair and prevent negative environmental impact on low-income areas of San Diego. They educate about the impact that pollution has on low-income communities specifically, an issue that is commonly overlooked by local officials. This aligns with our group’s mission because we believe that the solution to climate destruction begins with the people. Everyone is affected by environmental depletion, low-income communities most specifically. By starting a mission for change in these areas, EHC is targeting the worst of the problem, which is the most efficient way to enact change everywhere. San Diego Oceans Foundation encourages community action to promote ocean stability. They teach volunteers about marine life and the importance of sustaining San Diego’s oceans, while also providing solutions to environmental struggles. SDOF shares our same vision of people enacting the necessary change to restore health to the environment. They educate the public and offer tools for change to promote pride and appreciation for ocean health.
  3. We decided to donate to the Environmental Health Coalition. The deciding factor for us was their clear mission and plan to achieve their goal. They have an optimistic vision for the future, accompanied by genuine and passionate people in charge. They have a clearly stated goal, and realistic steps to take that will make their vision a reality. They were friendly, informative, and clearly devoted to enacting the change they advocate for. We were attracted to their strong leadership, unique mission, and professional demeanor.
  4. I hope that my donation will fund EHC’s efforts for safer communities in San Diego.

Philanthropy and Charities

  1. I have learned many different ways of evaluating companies including qualitative and quantitative methods. From analyzing tax forms to look at income as well as expenditures to see the flow of cash within the company, to interviewing with members of the organization, I have learned how to objectively and subjectively look at a company’s values, financials, and workforce. While tax forms show how efficiently a company runs, including how much money they spend to raise more capital for themselves, interviews reflect the mindset and future planning of the company in it’s management and it’s workforce. Although interviews can give insight into the workings of a company financially the tax forms reveal exactly how much money an organization has and how efficiently they spend it.
  2. The saying that numbers don’t lie is not only true but very prevalent when looking at organizations to donate to. They reveal the inner-workings of the group such as the amount spent on management and company expenditures compared to the money spent on fundraising compared to the money spent on the goals and actions of the company. This information, such as a form 990, is extremely important when going through with an investment as one should know that their money is being spent properly and not being wasted on an employee’s bonus check or a hotel rather than helping those that need help.
  3. Research is very important when it comes to giving away money. Research shows just which companies are good investments versus bad investments. On top of financials you also need to look at the companies vision and beliefs to make sure that their values truly line up with yours so that your money goes to the problems that you want to see fixed. This project has changed how I look at charities and philanthropy. Main Street Philanthropy has shown me the intricacies of actually researching and looking into charitable organizations to determine the one that will use the money I donate to its best potential and to make the biggest difference. It has also shown the amount of false charities and scams that exist and even the charities that truly help people but are simply ineffective or inefficient in the work they do.
  4. The two organizations I chose were St. Jude’s Research Hospital and Scripps Health. St. Jude’s Research Hospital aims to provide research for diseases and new medication. They also aim to give cost free service to children and others who need medical care but cannot come up with the money to cover the expensive treatments often necessary for many diseases and disorders. Scripps Health follows similar goals providing funding for research and improving their medical care. They aim to bring the best techniques, equipment and staff to each of their hospitals to provide the best service with easily funded payment plans and reduced costs for those who need even the most costly of treatments.
  5. The final Charity my group and I decided to give money to was the Salk Institute of Biological Studies. They were very efficient in their use of money using very little on management and spending very little compared to the amount of money they take in. The major factor that put Salk Institute over the other was their very long endurance even with little to no revenue. They have enough capital to last well over a year giving way for them to be very reliable even when faced with months of low donations or even losing all revenue together.
  6. I hope our donation goes towards new breakthroughs in medicine to help improve the lives of millions across the globe with new innovative life saving techniques. While research is expensive and unless your donation is exceptionally large, no one person can expect to single-handedly make a massive impact towards a new breakthrough. Despite this I want to continue to give fiscal backing as well as volunteer where I can to help further their goals and help make the world a healthier place.

MSP Blog Post

  1. I’ve learned that it is important to do a lot of research before investing in a company. There are many factors when evaluating an investment in a charity such as their mission statement, staff, and tax returns. Before investing in a charity, you need to make sure that its goals and values align with yours. Also, you need to make sure that the all of the staff is welcoming and knowledgeable. Although, I believe the most important method to evaluate a charity is looking at its tax forms to confirm that they are allocating their donations properly.
  2. It is important to look at the numbers before making an investment to make sure that the charity is properly allocating their funds. You want to have a good idea of where your money is going before you donate. A lot of times people donate to charities without looking at their tax returns and are unaware that their money does not go to the cause they want to donate to, but rather the miscellaneous expenses of the charity. When looking at my organizations’ tax returns, I was able to see where donations were going as well as determine the sustainability of my organizations.
  3. I’ve learned that it is necessary to do research before giving money away. There are many factors one must consider before donating to a charity. MSP has impacted my perspective on the world, because it has brought to my attention how many local and global issues that need to be addressed. Also, I have learned that every donation makes an impact, no matter how small, and charities appreciate that.
  4. The two charities I researched were Friends of the Earth and the Environmental Defense Fund. Friends of the Earth’s philanthropic mission is to protect the environment and create a healthy and just world. They do this through organizing to build long-term political power and campaign to change how economic and political systems that create injustice and destroy the earth. They work to expose those who value corporate profit over the lives of people and the health of the planet. The Environmental Defense Fund’s philanthropic mission is to preserve the natural systems on which all life depends. They do this by working with other organizations along with business, government, and communities to attack critical problems in areas such as climate, oceans, ecosystems, and health. These missions align with mine as I believe environment issues need to be addressed with urgency.
  5. The charity that my group chose to donate to was the Environmental Health Coalition. There were many factors that led us to select this charity. Their mission statement aligned with ours, which is always the first factor we want to address. Also, the fact that it is local allowed my group to visit the charity and talk to some of the staff, who were very welcoming over the phone and in person. Furthermore, by looking at their most recent 990 form, our group saw that they handle their money well. We were also able to determine their sustainability and it showed that they would be sustainable for a good amount of time.
  6. I am hoping that our donation will help local communities, because that would be the easiest way for us to see change. I definitely see myself donating to this charity in the future, and hopefully one day becoming a volunteer. MSP has exposed me to so many causes and organizations that I would love to become involved with, too, so while I do see myself helping out the Environmental Health Coalition, I do not want to limit myself to this one specific charity. I want to make an impact on many others.

 

Helping the Hungry Blog Post: Project Overview

1.) After doing this MSP project, I have learned many things. One of those things is would definitely never not do would be invest my money into something else without being 100% or close to 100% comfortable with where I choose to place my money. Another thing that I would definitely always consider looking into is income statements, tax forms, and as a whole, the specific companies financial statements and things of similar sort.
2.) When studying numbers of a company, it is important to make sure everything matches up to what you would have expected. Even though their tax forms may look legit, those forms could very well be fakes and you could be dealing with scammers if you aren’t paying close attention. Prior to doing this project, I had no idea that charities had investment securities to cover their backs and help the charity get by’ originally I had thought that charities involved only donations and volunteers.
3.) I have learned from this project that it is important to pay attention to every detail when you decide to put your money that you would wish to invest whether it be a charity or investing in the stock market.
4.) The two charities that I had picked for the project were Meals on Wheels and Serving Seniors. These charities are both non-profit organizations, and both of these charities are delivery services that can provide to those who can’t afford normal meals. Also, both of these organizations are in San Diego, CA.
5.)The final charity that our group had decided to follow through with was Feeding America; more specifically, the San Diego Branch. Several of us within our group had been there in the past to volunteer and this was the organization that we were most familiar with. The organization had strong financials, it was a large organization across the United States, and overall was our best option no doubt for our final donation. Our mission dealt with hunger and Feeding America/Feeding San Diego was the perfect candidate to suit our final decision.
6.) I just hope that our money raised will make brighten someones day, make them smile, and comfort them. I never really noticed how good it feels to give back to people in need and it brings joy to me knowing that our donation will definitely impact someone’s life in a positive way in the short future.

MSP blog

  1. There are multiple ways to evaluate an investment in a company. You can look at a company’s management, size, funding, goals, and values. You can look at what a company gives importance and check if it lines up with your values. You can also check how a company represents itself. The way a company represents itself can say a lot. I do think that best way to evaluate a company is by looking at their 990 tax form. You can see if a company properly allocates their funds.
  2.  It is important to look at the numbers before making an investment because it can tell you how good or bad an organization is doing. It tells you how they allocate their funds and if they do it properly. It lets you know if an organization is actually doing what they promised to do. I was surprised to see that some of the organizations we looked at did not have a good fundraising score. It surprised me to see that some organization will spend more on management than fundraising, especially the more well known organizations
  3. I have learned that I need to be more careful on which organizations I should be donating my money to. There are a lot of factors that needs to be considered before making a donation. MSP has impacted my perspective on the world and perspective on philanthropy or charities by showing me that I should take my time to do research beforehand. Not all organizations properly allocate their funds to fundraising and I think people should be more careful of that.
  4. The two organizations that I researched are The Sierra Club Foundation and Friends of the Earth. The mission of The Sierra Club Foundation is to teach people the proper and responsible ways to use Earth’s resources. This mission aligns with my group’s mission by teaching people the knowledge they need about environmental issues. The mission of Friends of the Earth is to be the voice to speak up against the injustice that endanger the planet Earth. This aligns with our group’s mission because it sheds light to corporations that are a threat to nature.
  5. My group chose to donate money to Environmental Health Coalition. One of the most important factor was because it was based in San Diego. Another important factor was how good their 990 tax form was. It showed how sustainable they were and how properly allocated their funds were. When my group visited their office we were greeted by very welcoming staff that talked to us about their organization and how it works. It made me feel more assured about donating the money to them.
  6. I hope that our donation will make an impact in the low-income areas in San Diego that the organization helps. Hopefully in the near future I will be able to donate again. However if I am not able to donate I would love to volunteer. I would also like to research more about environmental causes and organizations. I would like to be able to donate to other charities.

Donating money but gaining knowledge

  1. I learned that there are many ways to look at an investment in a company. I learned that there is a lens in which you evaluate how risky something is compared to looking at something for how much profit you can make. In order to evaluate if a company is good, we learned about fundamental analysis. We looked at balance sheets and cold hard numbers behind each company’s operation. To me, I see more value in the amount of money one can make. As someone with little to no money, I don’t really have anything to lose compared to someone who is older.
  2. The statement that numbers don’t lie applies to alot of things in the world and companies are one of those things. Numbers tell the truth when the news and the management do not. Numbers show everything a shady CEO would try to hide. I learned about how some charities are run for profit, where some charities are only open to make the management money. When looking at my organizations, none were open solely for management profit. I could see how efficiently they were using the money.
  3. I learned that in the charity game, it is better to give money to a charity that is run well. It is not a good idea to just give money to a charity that is going to close down in the next couple weeks. MSP has changed my perspective so that I look at charities like I would any other investment. Charities are meant to be companies that cater to what you want to change and make better, so one should invest money like they would a company.
  4. I looked at the African Wildlife Foundation and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. Both were geared towards helping wild animals, with more emphasis on the animals of Africa. They did not really align with what we were trying to accomplish. Our mission was more focused on domesticated animals, where we wanted  to ensure animals are healthy and safe and to educate citizens on the proper ways to care for animals.
  5. We chose the Rancho Coastal Humane Society because we felt that they were very friendly and were genuine. They were local and focused on San Diego, which was something I really liked because they would be helping our community. Most importantly, they had high marks in the financial ratio category, which is a must. The crew working there was super nice and really loved the animals they cared for.
  6. I hope that the donation will go to expanding the operations of the charity. Right now, they serve a part of San Diego. I want them to expand so they can help all the animals. I also want them to be able to expand the physical building they have so they can house more dogs and cats. The workers really love the dogs and cats they have and I would love to see them with the ability to save more animals. They provide love and education to people so that abandoned animals have a second chance. In the future, I would try and volunteer myself if I didn’t have the means necessary to donate.

MSP Experience

  1. Through this project I learned there are many aspects you should take into account when donating to a charity.  Charities may have a good social impression, but you should look further to make sure they are doing what they say, and efficiently.  Personally I think the percent of money a company puts towards there programs is the most important factor.
  2. It is important to look at a company’s numbers before donating/investing to make sure they are doing what they claim. Personally I think it’s most important to make sure they are spending the money on the needy, and that you aren’t funding someone’s paycheck.
  3. This project has made me look deeper into where I put my money.  Now I see the value in research; making sure an organization is using your money correctly.  I didn’t realize this before, but some companies can be scams and use your donations for personal use.
  4. I chose to research Feeding San Diego and the San Diego Food Bank.  Both of their missions were to help provide the hungry with nutritious meals, essentially identical to our groups mission.  After doing research, I found that both companies reasonably use their donations well, putting it to the real cause.
  5. We ended up deciding to donate to Feeding San Diego.  We found their mission and vision aligned with our, and that they use donations most efficiently.  We thought it was powerful to be able to go in the warehouse and directly see where our donation would go.
  6. We are hoping that our donation will provide nutritious meals to many people.  We believe Feeding San Diego will accomplish this, and that they will allow many needy people to face one less challenge for a good period of time.