Friday, August 12, 2022

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Illuminating Civic Skinny


Your Civic Skinny column, (July 18) suggested that Chrysalis is irresponsible in our spending. I’d like to set the record straight. Chrysalis is one of few organizations for which 100 percent of every contributed dollar is returned to organizations in our community. No donations (individuals, corporations or foundations) pay any of our salaries and operating expenses. Our founder, Louise Noun, left us with an endowment to assure this, and we are extremely grateful.

In the year cited by the article, the total funding Chrysalis invested in our nonprofit partners exceeded $300,000, which was reported in separate expense lines on our tax return. Grants included funding 30 after-school programs at local elementary and middle schools, operating support for 12 local organizations, and emergency “mini-grants” for 21 organizations. We also provided training, coaching, strategic planning, evaluation assistance, and other capacity-building resources to dozens of nonprofit organizations at no charge.

As executive director, I was paid $95,000 (not over $108,000 as reported). Chrysalis fundraising costs (as cited and not paid by any donor funds) include time for three other staff members (two full-time, one part-time) who help me fundraise by preparing donor materials, scheduling fundraising calls, researching corporations and foundations, providing program evaluation reports, and hosting one annual fundraising event. Clearly, sharing this information would have illuminated Civic Skinny to a true picture of Chrysalis.

Terry Hernandez
Executive director, Chrysalis
–Des Moines


EDITOR’S NOTE: Cityview stands by its numbers. Chrysalis’ 2012 tax return lists Hernandez’s “reportable compensation from the organization” at $96,506 plus $11,953 in “estimated amount of other compensation from the organization and related organizations.” Whether “100 percent of every contributed dollar is returned to organizations in our community” is a matter of semantics. According to its tax return, Chrysalis’ revenue in 2012 was $805,897, including $510,117 in investment earnings (including capital gains) and $290,984 in gifts and grants. Whether the money distributed to good causes comes from contributions or from investment income is irrelevant; a revenue dollar is a revenue dollar. Similarly, where the $105,522 spent on fundraising came from also is irrelevant. The tax return, signed by Hernandez and prepared by Denman & Co., says “grants and similar amounts paid” totaled $227,717 while “salaries, other compensation, employee benefits” totaled $276,267. Even if you say, as Hernandez does, that Chrysalis distributed $300,000, that is about 37 percent of its total expenses. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, “the BBB Wise Giving Alliance recommends that nonprofits spend at least 65 percent of its annual expenses on program activity while the American Institute of Philanthropy sets its minimum standard at 60 percent of expenses.”

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