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Some W.Va charities spend little on management, fundraising

May 12, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Eleven of the Eastern Panhandle's 46 charitable organizations currently registered with West Virginia Secretary of State Betty Ireland's office are spending less than 10 percent of the contributions they receive on management and fundraising costs, according to the secretary of state's Web site.

Two of the organizations - West Virginia Special Olympics for Berkeley County of Martinsburg, and Friends in Action of the Eastern Panhandle Inc. of Shepherdstown, W.Va. - reported that 100 percent of the contributions they received went toward programming purposes.

The other organizations that reported allocating 90 percent or more of their spending for programming purposes were:

- First in Your Family Inc. of Harpers Ferry, W.Va. - 99 percent

- Morgan County Rescue Service Inc. of Berkeley Springs, W.Va. - 95.7 percent

- Jefferson County Youth Football League Inc. of Kearneysville, W.Va. - 95.1 percent

- Berkeley County Congregational Action Project Inc. of Martinsburg - 93.4 percent

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- Community Networks Inc. of Martinsburg - 92.8 percent

- Potomac Valley Audubon Society of Shepherdstown - 92.6 percent

- Animal Welfare Society of Jefferson County of Kearneysville - 91 percent

- Morgan Arts Council Inc. of Berkeley Springs - 90.9 percent

- United Way of the Eastern Panhandle Inc. of Martinsburg - 90.8 percent

The treasurer of the Morgan Arts Council Inc. credited the organization's volunteers for keeping its management and fundraising costs at less than 10 percent.

"It's hard to do, and you need a very good volunteer base to do it," said Diane Petersen, treasurer of the nonprofit arts and education programming group.

Though the organization has a dedicated "hands-on" board of directors, Petersen said the percentage of management costs for the council likely will be affected by the recent hiring of a full-time employee.

"We have so many programs going ... we have to pay someone," Petersen said.

Lester Stein, treasurer of Berkeley County Congregational Action Project Inc., aka C-CAP/Loaves and Fishes, said the organization has managed to rely upon churchgoing volunteers, who have continued to recruit within the ranks over the years.

C-CAP provides emergency funds for basic human needs to county residents after exhausting all other agencies, and last year provided 3,331 payments, primarily for prescriptions and rent, Stein said.

Of $161,519 in disbursements listed in C-CAP's report posted by Ireland's office, $10,215 was used for management costs and $452 was spent on fundraising, but Stein said the group's percentage of operating costs likely will increase because it recently learned it must begin to pay rent for its space at a church in Martinsburg.

Ireland announced last week she intends to make it easier for state residents to compare the financial efficiency of charitable organizations by publishing a comprehensive list on the Internet in June.

"This list is not a ranking, and we will not pass judgment on any organization or group," Ireland said in a press release. "We'll leave the judgments up to the giving people of West Virginia. All we're doing is publishing facts."

To search for a charitable organization registered with Ireland's office by name or city on the Internet, go to www.wvsos.com/charitysearch/main.asp.

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