What I learned from MSP

There are multiple ways to evaluate if a company or non profit is a good investment. One of the simplest ways is to look at their 990 tax form to determine if their funds are being used properly and efficiently. Another way is to call the charity and contact their leadership team. Sometimes having good leadership and organization indicates that their organization will have a larger impact in the present or possibly in the future. I think that the best way to determine where your money should go is by looking at the 990. Even if the people are the rudest management on the planet, they at least have numbers to prove that they are well managed. In the end, it matters more about where the money is going.

It is important to look at the 990 (or similar forms) to find how well your donation will be managed. One of the non profit’s cost to raise $1 was $0.14, while another’s was around $2. If the company is not managing your donation efficiently, then it would be the equivalent to burning money. Blindly giving money would be unwise because the money could be used towards what you were not envisioning.

While I have participated in volunteering at charities, I have never seen the impact of what working with the needy looks like. I have mainly worked behind the scenes and not meeting face to face with the people that I am helping. Going on the tour of the Ronald McDonald House opened my eyes to how many people need our help and different ways I can help; it does not always have to be money. Sometimes donating your time is more valuable than the money that you could give them.

One of the organizations that I researched was the Water Education Foundation. Their mission statement is to ” to create a better understanding of water issues and help resolve water problems through educational programs.”This organization does focus on a topic I care about, but it did not align with my group’s vision. We were more focused on teaching people who had no education, not educating people on a subject. Another organization I researched was the Institute for Educational Advancement. Their mission statement is to “connect bright minds; nurturing intellectual and personal growth.” This aligned more with the group because this charity focuses on expanding a talented kids.

In the end, my group decided to donate to the Ronald McDonald House. Our topic was education, and that usually does not go hand in hand with Ronald McDonald. However, we were all impressed that they have a classroom at their location for the siblings of the sick kids. When the child get sick, the sibling’s education is often forgotten and neglected.  The staff was welcoming during our visit and let us know that there is currently 11 students in the classroom, with 1 teacher and 3 assistants. We chose this cause because we were impressed with the work they were doing and wanted to help them continue it.

During the tour, we were informed that only 10% of their budget came from McDonald. In addition, the organization relies heavily on volunteers to function. We were also informed that the House is currently undergoing renovations to improve their site. I hope our donation goes to the renovations to help those families feel more at home. Or maybe the money could go towards supplies for the classroom. In the future I may become more compelled to volunteer at an organization like the Ronald McDonald House. I feel that volunteering your time is worth more than any check you can write.