On Jan. 9 and 10, The Times made a series of accusations about the expenditures and programs of the Points of Light Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. Because accountability and responsiveness are important to maintaining public confidence and support, we spent over 100 hours researching and answering questions from the writer, Glenn Bunting. Either Bunting didn't understand our work or his own bias affected his perception of the truth. Here are the facts:
We're not, nor were we ever intended to be, a grant-making organization giving away money. To suggest that we spent only 11% of our budget giving cash grants completely misses the point of our work.
Eighty percent of our budget goes to programs directly serving communities. Our administration, management and fund-raising expenses costs totaled 20% last year--well within all accepted standards for nonprofit organizations.
Our mission is to engage more people more effectively in voluntary community service aimed at helping solve our most serious social problems.
Last year we worked with 3,000 companies on employee volunteer programs. We provided services to 501 volunteer centers and 10,000 nonprofits and public agencies. More than 4,000 families are volunteering because of our work. Over 500,000 people volunteered on Make a Difference Day (Oct. 22) sponsored by us and USA Weekend.
Bunting's story is replete with suggestions that we've behaved in a fiscally irresponsible manner. Not true. Some examples: We've invested $2.9 million (not the $5.5 million claimed) on public service advertising. Our return was $136 million in free media space promoting volunteerism. In 1994, we added to our reserve rather than "raiding" it by $500,000. Our office space is rented on a short-term lease at approximately 50% of market rate. We're audited yearly by an independent auditing firm and share these reports with anyone.
We're not perfect. Who is? But the story paints a distorted and inaccurate picture of us and the value we're providing communities. Because Times policy doesn't allow us space to respond as fully as we would prefer, we're asking you to call the foundation at 1-(800)-888-7700. We want to answer your questions about our work and the allegations about our financial management and stewardship of resources. You deserve to know the truth.
J. RICHARD MUNRO
Chairman, Points of Light Foundation