YOUR VIEW: Joe Steckler of Helping Seniors of Brevard Asks, Do We Need Nonprofits?
By Joe Steckler // July 8, 2017
be better informed about where your money goes
ABOVE VIDEO: Helping Seniors of Brevard is dedicated to improving the quality of life for area residents.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Do We Need Nonprofits? This is a fair question, one that should be better explained to the readership at large.
Since there are a huge number of books written on the subject, I will confine my comments to a discussion of what we generally perceive of as nonprofits. Here, I mean those organizations in Brevard County that address basic needs such as housing for the homeless, care of the frail and elderly, feeding the hungry, etc.
Numerous organizations meet the criteria for being designated as a nonprofit. Unfortunately, some of these are self-serving organizations that pass themselves off as being necessary providers to those in need when in fact they are primarily money making machines.
The purpose of this column is to help the generous and giving citizens in Brevard be better informed about where their money goes and how it is used to assist others.
There are many worthwhile causes that seek our support. Generally speaking, I will not donate to any cause that has a profit making phone calling service seeking the donation.
There are many views on what constitutes a “fair” upfront cost to solicit your donation, but in my book any such cost turns me off. Years ago when I was the Alumni Director at Florida Tech I used students to solicit donations from graduates. They were fed pizza, made calls, told the person why they were calling, and did a good job obtaining funds for alumni programs.
One way to establish the “worthiness” of a soliciting organization is to look up their IRS Form 990 online, which will give you their actual revenues and expenses.
If you determine that salaries, medical and retirement benefits, and building operational costs are in the 50 percent range, you may not want to donate to them. You can also determine how many organizations provide similar type services to identify those known to you and worthy of your support.
Like you, I receive calls from all over the U.S. and some foreign countries and make it a point to give only to a charity I know.
There are ways for you to determine the worthiness of almost any soliciting organization. You can certainly ask your friends, for many have already done the research I mention above.
Why give to an organization that does not answer the required questions on their IRS 990, or that demonstrates poor leadership through mismanagement of already scarce funds, or that does not provide the service for which they are funded? Most importantly, as funding becomes more stringent, are their services really needed?
Helping Seniors did a countywide survey in 2014 and found that the two biggest senior needs were for information and financial support. “Do we need nonprofits?” is a significant question for seniors.
We have some of the best nonprofit adult day care organizations in Brevard but only a few receive United Way or county assistance. Perhaps it is time for the Housing and Human Services Department to conduct their own survey to determine the actual needs of Brevard’s elderly and the capability of the nonprofit community to serve them.
Without timely surveys to determine actual need, how do the county commissioners and United Way determine funding priorities? Both county and United Way dollars come from private sector so this is a valid request.
The need for advocacy and information has been demonstrated in many ways. We do need nonprofits and we do need to find ways to financially support them.
CLICK HERE for information about Helping Seniors of Brevard, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 321-473-7770.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joe Steckler is the President of Helping Seniors of Brevard, a non profit organization designed to advocate, educate, and fundraise on behalf of Brevard’s senior citizens. Steckler is a long-time and knowledgeable Senior Advocate. A retired Navy Captain, he is known for his work in founding and developing the Brevard Alzheimer’s Foundation, as well as for launching Helping Seniors of Brevard in 2011.
Steckler is also a popular favorite on Space Coast Area TV and Radio, he has appeared in more than 400 TV programs, hosted his weekly Radio program for 15+ years, and appears regularly in print.
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