Transparency: 2008-09 Annual Report

November 23, 2009

Transparency is not a public relations message or warm-fuzzy descriptor we add to outgoing communications. It is one of our core values, which, as an organization, we take very seriously. Our commitment to transparency is solid and, at times, a little obsessive, which I personally enjoy.

The primary reason transparency is essential in our organization is simple: accountability. We believe that our donors and stakeholders have the right to know exactly where the money goes, which is why we produce a high quality, relevant and transparent Annual Report.
How do you know where the money goes?

YACC differentiates itself from many other charities, especially the large government based charitable foundations whose commitment to transparency is inconsistent and totally unacceptable, but I digress.

The financial statements provided by many charitable organizations tell one layer of truth. To use a YACC example, from our statements you will see that we had another incredible Shave for the Brave in 2009 raising over $192,000. You will also see we incurred ~$171,000 in expenses related to employee compensation (salaries, benefits, employment costs) in that fiscal year.

What you will not find from our financial statements alone is how that $171,000 was actually spent, how it was allocated (Did we spend half the year on vacation?  Did our office crew spend three months discussing reruns of The Office? Does Karine, for example, spend 100 per cent of her time on program development and delivery just because her title as Program Director suggests it?)

My answer’s a resounding “No”to all. No to excessive vacation time, no to excessive discussions on The Office (with the exception of lunchtime conversations), and no to the appropriateness of allocating all of Karine’s compensation to program development and delivery. That would misrepresent the truth.

How do we allocate our annual expenditures? The same way accountants and lawyers bill their clients; we track our time, and allocate it to a specific activity.  This allows us to see the actual cost of delivering an event/program.

For example, from our financial statements, you will see expenditures for Retreat Yourself 2008 were $32,195. However, when you take into account the human resource costs required to plan and deliver that initiative, just over $7,900, you will see a more accurate event cost of ~$40,000.

We use this method to calculate costs, including human resource time, for all major activities. These numbers allows us to build the most essential layer of transparency: the pie chart which allows us to report on the percentage of our expenses that were related to programs, fund development, and operations.

You should know that, up to this point, there is no requirement for charities to create and publish such a pie chart and, of course, no regulated guidelines for them to create their chart either. In the absence of an accepted process, I created one for YACC.

Our commitment to transparency is a core value. I encourage you to ask any questions when reviewing our Annual Report. In case you can’t tell, I love to talk about this stuff, and would be keen to delve into any other area of our transparency commitment.

I hope you will take some time to review our latest (and excellent) Annual Report, there is some truly remarkable information within it.

Always…

Live life. Love life.

Geoff

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