Want public money? Let’s see your 990

Today, after hearing about yet another organization asking the Board of Supervisors for money, I decided to review the Board’s liaison and committee assignments to look for a pattern.  I compared the FY2009 Payments to Vendors Report and the Board’s FY2009 Budget Appropriations (dated May 27, 2009) to their assignments.

I did not find a correlation between the assignments and the payments or appropriations to a particular organization.  Some assignments appear to be protocol and some may be due to the interest of a particular Board member and some may be that an organization wants a Board member on their board to keep funds coming, to get funds, to get advice, or whatever.

My suggestion for the BOS is to develop a policy to determine which organizations are worthy of the Board’s time and money based upon some objective, quantifiable criteria.

For example, every non-profit asking for public funds should be required to present IRS Form 990s for their last three tax years to the Board.  The Finance & Budget department should review the 990s and determine the percentage of the organization’s funds spent on overhead versus mission.  Maybe the organization spends 11% on overhead and the BOS has a policy that they do not fund anything over 10%?  Maybe the non-profit is paying its CEO $200K per year and the BOS does not fund anything over $150K per year?

My point is this:  some non-profits are run better than others and some are more deserving of public funds than others.  How about using objective criteria to quantify and qualify which ones deserve public funds and which ones do not?

The Witwer Trust Grant scoring tool is a start.  Let’s enhance it with additional criteria from the Form 990s to ensure that our public funds are being leveraged for the best return on investment.

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