Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Monday, May 14, 2001

Fund-raising costs
just a fraction
of IHS work

Question: I'm calling about the recent IHS (Institute for Human Services) fund-raising campaign. I believe in what they're doing and have given them money over the past few years, but I'm really concerned about how the money is being spent. I've gotten mail solicitations at home and at the office, and each day, I hear or see an ad for IHS. All this must cost a lot of money. I'm wondering if I shouldn't return to the old practice of donating canned foods and clothing. At least I know all my donations will be going to a homeless person. Since IHS is a nonprofit organization, can you find out how much is actually being spent on fund raising?

Answer: The IHS's annual operating budget is about $3 million. Of that, about 82 percent covers programs; 11 percent, administration; and 7 percent, development, which includes fund raising, according to IHS Executive Director Lynn Maunakea.

She noted that the IHS's financial information is sent to the Better Business Bureau of Hawaii, which publishes a rating of charitable organizations in terms of public accountability, use of funds and method of solicitation. (Call 536-6956 to check on charitable organizations that have voluntarily provided information.)

"We're really proud of our record" of keeping fund-raising costs down, Maunakea said.

Regarding the "reasonable use of funds," the BBB's standard is that at least 50 percent of total income is spent on programs and activities directly related to an organization's purpose, fund-raising costs do not exceed 35 percent of related contributions, and total fund-raising and administrative costs do not exceed 50 percent of total income.

According to a 1999 audit, 82 percent of the IHS's funds were for programs, 6 percent for fund raising and 12 percent for nonprogram (management) costs, Maunakea said.

She also noted that 60 percent of IHS's budget comes from government support and 40 percent from private sources -- from corporations and foundations, churches, community groups and individuals.

The IHS relies heavily on volunteers and donations to keep overhead costs down, with in-kind service of volunteers valued at more than $250,000 and donated foods at just under $600,000, Maunakea said.

"We run a very efficient fund-raising effort. Even though we are running ads, a lot of those ads are matched by public service announcements," she said. She described the current campaign as "pretty modest."

Maunakea also noted that IHS opted to stop holding fund-raising events, primarily because they were too labor-intensive in terms of actual returns. Also, having a fancy event in a fancy hotel seemed contrary to IHS's role as a homeless shelter, she said. "What works for us is more a direct appeal -- a direct mail campaign," she said. "We do an annual campaign at the end of the year, and we do a Mother's Day appeal."

Q: Who's responsible for maintaining the roundabout here at Ala Ilima and Likini streets in Salt Lake? It's been two months since anyone has cut the grass. It looks like a jungle. The neighbors are all complaining.

A: As of last week, it was agreed among various city departments that the Department of Parks and Recreation will now be responsible.

Parks Director William Balfour acknowledged "we have some catching up to do" regarding maintenance and said he hopes to get all the roundabouts in shape within two to three weeks.

"Once we do that, we ought to be able to keep them up on a regular basis," he said.

Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered.
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