Local nonprofit organization Girls on the Run Tri County got an early Christmas gift this year.
A group that stresses the importance of having a positive self-image, Girls on the Run has another reason to feel good about itself after being named to the S.C. Secretary of State Office’s annual “Angels” list of nonprofits that spend most of their income on programming. Girls on the Run Tri County had the highest percentage going to its core function, with 99 percent.
The secretary of state’s office also has a “Scrooges” list of organizations that use most of their revenue for salaries and perks rather than programing.
Some of the group’s budget comes from user fees, but it also offers scholarships for girls who want to participate, but whose families can’t afford to pay.
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“We’re a little different than other nonprofits because we have revenue that comes in through registration fees, but almost all of it goes back to programming, which is wonderful,” said Lindy Morris, council director for Girls On The Run Tri County.
“We offer scholarships and the money that comes in through fundraisers and grants and donations goes right back in to out reach to the girls.”
Girls on the Run, which began in Charlotte in 1996, teaches adolescent and teen girls life skills while stressing self-esteem and healthy living. The program includes running and GOTR holds a schedule of races that help bring in revenue, but there are other activities as well. The Fort Mill-based Tri County chapter, which now has 650 girls, celebrated its 10th anniversary last spring.
It only has two paid employees. In addition to those salaries, the group’s expenses include liability insurance, training for coaches, background checks on coaches and other volunteers, T-shirts and races, Morris said.
Sarah Heins, program coordinator for GOTR Tri County and a Fort Mill resident, said there are 150 volunteer coaches this season and dozens of others who help during races. She said total revenue for the period July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014 was $144,691 and total expenses were $126,596.
“It was such a nice surprise to hear from the secretary of state that they had chosen us,” Heins said. “I really love working for an organization that does so much good for the girls of the tri-county area.”
Heins said unlike some groups, GOTR does its own fundraising as opposed to contracting with a company that stages events, but keeps a portion of proceeds for profit.
“I was really astounded at some on the Scrooge list, and what high percentages they spend on professional fundraising, which we don’t do,” Heins said.
Morris said the designation from the state should help future fundraising efforts.
“It shows people we are very intentional in what we do with the donations we receive,” she said.
Also on the list are:
• Clemson Free Clinic, Clemson (92 percent)
• Homes for Our Troops, Inc., Taunton, Mass. (91.9 percent)
• MARYS House (Ministry Alliance for Regaining Your Safety), Pickens (96.2 percent)
• Pawmetto Lifeline Inc., Columbia (81.7 percent)
• Project Linus, Bloomington, Ill. (91.2 percent)
• Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina, Inc., Charlotte (97.2 percent)
On the flip side, the Secretary of State Office’s annual “Scrooge” list of organizations it says spends the least on its programs includes:
• AFP Foundation for Philanthropy, Arlington, Va. (20.8 percent)
• Car Donation Foundation, St. Louis Park, Minn. (20.7 percent)
• Circle of Friends for American Veterans, Falls Church, Va. (8.4 percent)
• Disabled Police and Sheriffs Foundation, Inc., St. Genevieve, Mo. (5.9 percent)
• National Association of Chiefs of Police Inc., Titusville, Fla. (37 percent)
• National Vietnam Veterans Foundation, Inc., Alexandria, Va. (8.1 percent)
You can research organizations registered in South Carolina by visiting the Secretary of State’s website at sos.sc.gov. To review an organization, select the Charity Search button to learn a charity’s total revenue, program expenses, total expenses, net assets, and fundraiser costs. The website even calculates the percentage of total expenses that the charity has devoted to its program services. You can also call 1-888-CHARITI (242-7484).