There are so many challenges to running Arizona Helping Hands. We are a growing nonprofit organization – the largest provider of basic needs to the 14,000 children in our State’s foster care system. Moving into our new building last fall, installing a new technology system to track the vast quantity of merchandise that flows through our facility to meet ever increasing needs of kids – the issues sometimes seem insurmountable.
Then factor in all of the financial challenges. We need to raise enough funding to provide beds and cribs to 3,500 children in 2019. These are kids who have been victims of abuse and neglect. Their foster families come to Arizona Helping Hands seeking assistance. The men and women who step up to help these children don’t have nine months to prepare for the placement of an infant, or to get ready for the sibling group they will take in tonight. There is no way to be properly prepared for the unexpected, and frequently foster parents, including grandmas, grandpas, aunts and uncles don’t have the financial resources to acquire needed items in an instant. That’s where Arizona Helping Hands steps in. Our programs provide health, safety and permanency to fill the void. We make lives safer and more comfortable for boys and girls in need.
Confusion over recent tax law changes resulted in a reduction in contributions for most charitable organizations. Giving USA reports that individual giving declined last year by 3.4% in inflation adjusted dollars. For our rapidly growing charity, we felt the pain.
It’s hard work to raise funds for charity. We focus on sharing our mission – how we work incredibly hard to make a difference for children. We tell stories of remarkable people like the 25 year-old aunt who overnight became the 24/7 parent to her 5 nieces and nephews. We provided beds, cribs, clothing, diapers, birthday gifts and home safety items to help this young lady take on huge responsibilities. We manage our donor dollars as effectively as possible, utilizing volunteers, stretching our people as far as is reasonable, all in an effort to keep our overhead low. We reported on our last federal tax return that 93 cents of every dollar donated to us went to provide services to children in foster care. I am incredibly proud of the work we do, and the way we manage our operations effectively.
That’s why recent news of a charity operating with much different objectives drives me up the wall. Paying “Fundraising reps” to sit at tables and collect donations to “help kids in foster care” is not the method we choose to solicit support for our work. According to the federal tax return filed by Foster Hope Foundation, less than $.20 of each dollar raised went to program services. The balance was paid to those table sitters and the company executives. All of those dollars could have gone to buy cribs for infants being released from the Neonatal Intensive Care Units, or to give birthday gifts to teenagers who have never celebrated their own special day.
The lesson to be learned – know the charity you are supporting. Unless you are familiar with the results of a charitable organization and their impact in our community, NEVER donate cash. Do your research on the organization. You should be able to access financial reports right on the charity’s website. If you are moved to donate on the spot, ask the person seeking your donation if they are a volunteer or a paid solicitor.
Our donors are loyal to Arizona Helping Hands because they see the impact we have on kids in foster care throughout the State of Arizona. Thousands of children are sleeping safely tonight, going back to school this summer with new backpacks filled with school supplies, celebrating their birthday as every youngster should, and feeling just a little better because of our work and because of community supporters who recognize its value.
PLEASE take the time to learn where your charitable dollars are going – they are the lifeblood of all of us who are working so hard to make a difference in our community. Thank you to all who choose to give your hard earned dollars to Arizona Helping Hands. I encourage everyone to research us, as you should any charity. I am confident that you will learn that dollars donated to support our work will be responsibly used to Bring Hope to Arizona’s children in foster care.
Dan Shufelt is the President & CEO of Arizona Helping Hands, the largest provider of basic needs to Arizona’s children in foster care. Learn more about the Organization at www.azhelpinghands.org and contact Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org