A Candid Look at How Outreach Approaches Good Stewardship

From Board Member Derek Phillips

Derek_Phillips_-e1394547030719-150x150What percentage of my donation goes to actual programs and how much is spent on administration? Is this organization being a good steward of the funds with which they are entrusted? We imagine you have asked those questions as you have chosen to give to an organization in the past, and at Outreach, we feel compelled to be transparent and accountable to donors, program recipients and the general public through openly sharing the details of how we use our funds. We understand that those invested in Outreach need to know our approach to finances, internal controls and compliance requirements. This article was written with that in mind, and we hope that this will give you some insight into how we operate.

First of all, Outreach’s board, management and employees are serious about protecting the mission of Outreach – Equipping and empowering homeless teens and young adults to achieve stability and life transformation. In Outreach, there are multiple layers of responsibility when it comes to financial accountability, and ultimately it starts with the board. As a member of the board and chairman of the finance committee, I can tell you that we have put in place recurring meetings to review monthly financial information. These meetings, which consists of other board members and management at Outreach, allows us to stay on top of any financial trends, positive or negative, that may be on the horizon. This allows us to proactively adjust to what we feel is in the best interest of Outreach at all times. If we see a need to add a street outreach employee, or even need to handle a maintenance item, we know at all times what is possible.

On annual basis, Outreach is audited by Sponsel CPA Group, and they do a great job of combing through the fine details of Outreach to make sure that our funds are used appropriately and all policies are being followed. They also make recommendations on how to better improve our processes, which helps us to operate more efficiently. In addition to our audit, Sponsel files our IRS Form 990, which can be found online at Guidestar.com. For those note familiar with a Form 990, this form is what most tax-exempt organizations must file annually, and gives the IRS an overview of the organization’s activities, governance and detailed financial information. The Form 990 also includes a section for the organization to outline its accomplishments in the previous year to justify maintaining its tax-exempt status.

You also should know that Outreach publishes an annual report with a breakdown of our donations received and our budget showing how funds were used in areas such as site & school based services, marketing, volunteers and administration. In addition to this financial information, this report more importantly provides data on how many youth were served and specifically how many youth received their GED, gained employment, obtained stable housing and were treated for mental health. This annual report can be found on our website at outreachindiana.org, and I believe that you will find it to be a refreshing way that we are trying to be transparent and accountable to those who have trusted in us.

I serve at Outreach for many reasons, but the biggest reason is that I’ve seen firsthand how much impact Outreach has had on the lives of youth, many times over, and it’s very impactful to me. Outreach is genuinely equipping and empowering homeless teens in our community, and we are grateful to our donors who have helped us be able to do that for them. The last few years have been an exceptional time for Outreach, and we look forward to seeing what else God has in store.

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