Letter: Clarifying nonprofit expenses

Clarifying nonprofit expenses

A recent article in The Aspen Daily News (“The Bash for the Buddies,” July 13) sets out to “follow the money at one of Aspen’s top fundraisers.” We at the Buddy Program appreciate the coverage of The Bash for the Buddies and of the great work that we do. However, I feel that the emphasis on “following the money” misses the mark and needs clarification. In particular, the statement that, “only about 4.5 percent of the nonprofit’s revenue went directly to youth,” needs to be addressed.

The 4.5 percent figure represents what we allocate for scholarships and counseling. While we are thrilled to be able to provide approximately $70,000 to these two important areas each year, this is not our primary mission. Our mission is “to empower youth through mentoring experiences in order to achieve their full potential.”

We provide and facilitate mentoring and various programs and experiences for our mentors, mentees and many other children in the valley. We are a quasi-social service organization with case managers and support staff who are necessary to accomplish this. So, yes, many of our expenses are related to paying the people who do such an amazing job, and that is just how it should be.

The true impact of the Buddy Program should be measured in what we have and continue to accomplish. We have grown from serving a handful of youth in the early years to nearly 1,000 today. The continued financial support we receive from our very generous donors is what has enabled this growth. As importantly, there is an incredible amount of time and energy contributed by our many supporters including our Big Buddies, Race and Bash volunteers, over 150 Silent Auction donors, sponsors, media partners and many others.

The Bash is not just a fundraiser. It and the Boogie’s Buddy July 4th Race are important marketing events and “friendraisers.” In order for this organization to flourish, we create relationships and inspire all types of support within the community.

Yes, it’s true that fundraisers are not cheap to put on, but they are an integral part of fundraising for us and most of the nonprofit organizations in the valley — and the country, for that matter. We at the Buddy Program are proud of our efficiency in this area. In 2013, our event expense ratio was 33 percent, significantly lower than the national average of 50 percent. In other words, for every dollar we raised at events, we kept 67 cents, whereas most charities only keep 50 cents. It is important to note that this is only the ratio for events; for other fundraising activities like appeals, our expense ratio is much lower.

The accounting of most businesses and nonprofits, ours included, can be difficult to follow, and certainly cannot be summed up in an attention grabbing headline. The bottom line is that in one form or another, 88 percent of our revenue net of fundraising costs goes toward helping our youth, and this compares favorably with the national average.

We are always available to answer questions concerning the important work we do and how we do it.

Thank you again to our community for all of your support — without you we could not have such a positive effect on so many youth in our valley.

Adam Goldsmith

The Buddy Program, President of the Board