OPERATION LOOKOUT NATIONAL CENTER FOR MISSING YOUTH

Rating: 1.9 stars   10 reviews

Issues: Human Services, Crime & Law

Location: 6320 Evergreen Way Ste 201 Everett WA 98203 USA

Mission: OPERATION LOOKOUT -founded 1984, provides parents with missing children casework in conjunction with law enforcement and authorities, nat'l and int'l. 24 Hour helpline for ER's and Sightings. There is never a fee for service. Staff are volunteer and paid. Our goal is to recover a missing child swiftly using broadscope picture broadcasting and the internet, and search techniques customized to fit the case at-hand.

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Community Reviews

Rating: 1 stars  

I got a cold call on my newly activated landline, for a "Williams" (not me). I stated that it must be a wrong number, and the caller identified themselves as a charity to help kids with cancer. The caller ID read "Operation Lookou" (sic). Then they proceeded to get me to donate, and I asked for additional information to see where money was being spent. I got a non-answer that they're very responsible with their money. Then I research them on the web and see their dismal record for giving. This pathetic excuse for a charity should be shut down.

Was your donation impactful?

No

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

No

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 

If you have a complaint because the call center we have outsourced fundraising and communications to has misrepresented anything to you, please contact us at your earliest opportunity at oladmin@operationlookout.org. Funds do not remain LOCAL; they are used for missing children cases generated from any state for any duration. Funds are never given to a specific case but are generated for the good of all registered missing children. Any concern over how the proceeds are split will be answered by OPERATION LOOKOUT directly based on the annual IRS 990 report and PIE CHART for the previous year; those figures will vary year by year, and funds have a greater program element than is often understood. Visit www.operationlookout.org for full disclosure.

Review from CharityNavigator
Rating: 4 stars  

Excerpt from the 2011 audit* performed by Martin Eller, CPA-Wyckoff, NJ December 15, 2012: Michael and Melody Gibson Co-founded OPERATION LOOKOUT in 1984 and their input and consulting continues 28 years later. Michael Gibson is the volunteer President, Chairman of the Board, and Head of Case Management. Melody Gibson is Executive Director of the organization and volunteer Treasurer and the wife of Michael Gibson. Michael Gibson was paid a wage of $18,394 and Melody Gibson was paid a wage of $16,979. Both Michael and Melody Gibson reduced their time in their organization and is now considered ‘semi-retired’. Any compensation received by either party in 2011 is based on unpaid past due wages from previous years that was approved by the Board of Directors. Melody Gibson, Executive Director and volunteer Treasurer, is a member of the Board of Trustees of Caring For Our Children Foundation, serving as the Treasurer. Caring For Our Children Foundation gave $1050 in grants** to Operation Lookout in 2011.***

COST-ALLOCATION: The use of funds, as shown on the IRS 990 reports, reflect that a portion of the ‘fundraising’ cost is allocated to a ‘program’ element, mandated by contract. The respective nonprofit websites provide full disclosure on the IRS 990, AUDIT and PIE CHART showing distribution of funds.

Caring For Our Children Foundation’s mission in 2001 was solely to raise funds for OPERATION LOOKOUT (and later included giving to other select under-funded nonprofits serving child victims of crime, poverty, and neglect). The mission has grown to include grant giving, job training, benevolence, fiscal sponsorship, and administrative assistance.

OPERATION LOOKOUT’S mission since 1984 has been singular to provide no charge crisis intervention and assistance to families whose children are missing, abducted, or runaway. Program includes but is not limited to providing case management, encouraging media and community participation and outreach, volunteerism, law enforcement and authorities liaison, and more.

The OPERATION LOOKOUT Helpline: 1-800-LOOKOUT and 1-800-771-SEEK is manned 24/7 by Kelley’s Answering Service Medical Emergency Division. This generous business has contributed its professional services over 20 years to OPERATION LOOKOUT. Their representatives screen and triage any ‘life-threatening situation’ (asking, “What is the nature of your emergency?”) Emergent callers are dispatched to an ‘on-call’ case manager - community volunteers have proven unable to provide this level of excellence required.

Dialing for Support - One of the business models used to raise funds since the founding of both nonprofits has been to outsource fundraising and encouraging Citizen involvement. Such promotional efforts include brand marketing, a call to action, and fundraising. Call centers are mandated by contract to provide a duel service including a programmatic element. A Public Service Announcement (PSA) such as asking for volunteer poster distribution in ones community, or telling a parent how to learn the whereabouts of registered sex predators nearby may be infused into the communication either at time of call or upon receiving a mailed packet. The call center must cover all costs with no portion of the cost falling on the shoulders of the nonprofit whether the venture is profitable or not. A percentage or revenue split of the weekly proceeds insures the nonprofit of having net, free and clear minimum income streams, insuring the organization of ongoing sustainable funds dedicated solely to ‘program’. On a quarterly basis, some contracts compare cost vs income assuring the charity of no over-charges vs income still due to the charity. In recent years, the economic environment has, more often than not, cost the call centers more than their payment. Such losses are not charged to the nonprofit.

REDUCED DONATIONS: From time to time, like with any business during an economic crisis, a non-profit may downsize to a skeleton crew or delay paychecks. Timely communication and resolve follow soon after. Authorities respect and understand this financial draught.

COMPUTER UPGRADES - Occasionally a nonprofit must upgrade its computer system to avoid loss of critical data and communications from a languishing computer system. In 2012 OPERATION LOOKOUT purchased 2 refurbished computers and a scanner in response to this critical need.

* The 2011 IRS 990 and audit is available upon request by email or mail. The reports are posted annually on the respective websites. The 2011 reports were released by the CPA for public disclosure January 2013.

** CFOC was founded in 2001 to provide free and clear grants from net funds to Operation Lookout for aid in locating missing, abducted and runaway children.
Caring For Our Children Foundation provided grants to OPERATION LOOKOUT in 2007 - $45,954; in 2008 - $61,561; in 2009 - $27,805 ; in 2010 - $4,850; in 2011 - $1,050.

***The respective organizations are separate entities with different missions, different office venues, separate accounting and reporting procedures provided by 3rd party professionals to insure the public of disclosure transparency. The common thread between the organizations is the dedication of Ms. Gibson, whose heart and expertise has benefitted at-risk children and their families for many years. CFOC provides data entry and administrative assistance to OPERATION LOOKOUT, allowing it to remain focused solely on child search and case management.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
1 previous review
Rating: 3 stars  

These comments are based on reports and facts, not emotions, imaginations, or personal perspectives. The figures come from accounting and CPA reports and responses are directly related to MR. AUSTIN'S FALSE REMARKS. We will note his comments as FALSE then issue the FACT. Ms. NETHERY'S FALSE remarks are addressed in the next box. It is not our goal to malign either party but solely to state the facts as they are. FALSE: The "foundation" is run in conjunction with Operation Lookout...
FACT: There is no similarity in the missions or boards of the two organizations. Melody and Mike founded both organizations that at one time shared an administration office which reduced the cost of personnel, rent and equipment. OPERATION LOOKOUT® National Center for Missing Youth was established in 1984 to assist parents in the search of their missing, runaway and abducted children –always free of charge having its own dedicated and trained staff. CARING FOR OUR CHILDREN FOUNDATION was founded in 2001 for the sole purpose of fundraising and giving grants to OPERATION LOOKOUT. A year or 2 after being founded the foundation’s fundraising efforts were so successful that the funds were divided between OPERATION LOOKOUT and various other nonprofit programs and projects. It's goals were to give 99% of its net income to grants. See examples of grant recipients at www.caringforourchildrenfoundation.org. The common denominator between the two organizations currently is that Melody Gibson is the volunteer treasurer on both nonprofit boards. CFOC’S Board of Trustees consists of retired females located in different states (WA, AK, CA).

FALSE: Mike and Melody Gibson, who, each year make close to $100,000....
FACT: There was ‘one’ year when both parties were fortunate enough to receive not only their full annual (board approved) salary, but a portion of the unpaid back wages from previous years. Both founders and directors retired due to serious budget cuts due to economic changes. In 2012 both parties became semi-retired at their respective workplaces, and receive a limited wage per board of director's authorization and Social Security rules and regulations. In addition, unpaid back wages will continue to be paid until paid in full.

FALSE: The COCF supposedly gives advice and money to other children's charities, but the bulk of the money goes to Operation Lookout....
FACT: Caring for Our Children Foundation does not give advice, however it has an original mission of giving financial grants to nonprofits serving adolescent victims of crime, abuse and neglect. OPERATION LOOKOUT was the original recipient of the largest portion of the grants as that was CFOC’S original mission—to raise funds for OPERATION LOOKOUT. Caring For Our Children Foundation’s mission expanded to include other nonprofits and it currently includes its own charitable programmatic activities within the community.

FALSE: ...and apparently into the Gibson's pockets
FACt: Mike Gibson, Head of Case Management received a salary and Melody Gibson, Executive Director received a salary, both for working full time at OPERATION LOOKOUT®. The amount received is board approved based on median wage reports, and it is publicly disclosed in each annual IRS 990 report. No wages are reported for Mike Gibson relating to CFOC and a salary is reported for Melody Gibson beginning in 2009 when she was hired to open and operate a thrift store, NXT2NU Family Thrift Shoppe located at 5612 Evergreen Way Everett, WA 98203.

FALSE & MISLEADING: On their 2010 IRS 990 forms $666,286 was raised, but $569,222 went towards fundraising, $35,510 went towards salaries and $4,850 went to Operation Lookout, leaving $56,704. Subtracting another $3,666 for payroll taxes, $21,165 for accounting services and $8,307 for bank charges leaves $23,566. In other words, only 3.5¢ of every dollar donated goes towards their cause. But their rent was $38,839, which means that not only does no money go towards their cause, but nothing goes towards it.
FACT: The interpretation is askew of accounting reality. See 2010 IRS 990 disclosures and related PIE CHART at www.caringforourchildrenfoundation.org for a cost allocation breakdown of the proceeds. READ BELOW for additional details relating to previous years. OPERATION LOOKOUT National Canter For MIssing Youth will be an annual recipient of grants so long as CFOC has net proceeds to give to it and other board selected nonprofit programs.

FALSE: This and Operation Lookout appears to be a way for the Gibsons to pay for their mortgage or their rent and living expenses...
FACT: The Gibson’s have and do receive a salary that is approved by the Board of Director’s of the respective organizations. A 3rd party bookkeeping service oversees the balance of past due salary and a CPA company audits the books annually. The amounts actually paid to the Gibson’s is disclosed to the CPA who makes these details public in the annual OPERATION LOOKOUT and CARING FOR OUR CHILDREN FOUNDATION IRS 990 reports. Visit www.operationlookout.org and www.caringforourchildrnefoundation.org for a copy of the IRS 2010 990 Report and related PIE CHARTS The 2011 IRS 990 reports will be available in November of 2012.

FALSE: ...until both organizations' credit lines run out and they declare bankruptcy and both organizations fold.
FACT: Since the Gibson’s are the respective organization(s) founders, and their hearts are in their future growth, it would just be silly to run up lines of credit for personal gain or bankruptcy. OPERATION LOOKOUT was established in 1984 and it has no open line of credit; CARING FOR OUR CHILDREN FOUNDATION was established in 2001, and at this writing it has no open line of credit. In previous years the Gibson’s have placed their mortgage on the line to obtain lines of credit to keep OPERATION LOOKOUT’S doors open during times of economic drought hoping to prevent inevitable lay-offs.. Melody Gibson has made a small loan to CFOC for a Capitol Project. Those loans have been repaid by the organizations.

NOT FALSE: The governor of South Carolina publishes an annual Angels and Scrooges list of charities, based upon how much of the donations go to the charity. COCF would go to the top of their Scrooges list.
FACT: Many donors do not like the cost related to hiring professional fundraising services. The costs are steep and both organization encourage donors to become DIRCET GIVING PARTNERS whereby their gift is 100% designated as they wish to the program of their choice; no middleman expense is involved therefore their gift goes farther for the purpose intended. Direct Donations can be made online at the websites mentioned above, or by mail to the mailing addresses shown on the websites.

Both organizations appreciate that outsourcing to professional call centers means that there is always free and clear net income streams each week for their missions. The contracts require that when the recipeint of the call will allow, a ‘programmatic’ element is to be made. This permits the organizations to remain focused on their mission while the professional call services focus on raising funds and education and public service awareness. Visit the financial sections on the website at www.caringforourchildrenfoundation.org and www.operationlookout.org to learn more about how funds are allocated using IRS cost allocation rules.

Going directly to CFOC IRS 990 reports:
In 2007, CFOC gave OPERATION LOOKOUT 45.5K in grants; approximately 20K went to others. CFOC was generous in its earlier years until the economy took a turn forcing CFOC to change its course. The principal female board is volunteer.

In 2008, CFOC gave OPERATION LOOKOUT 61K in grants and Kenya received 25K to open and operate a new Orphan’s Home. This giving kept the doors of both nonprofits open. The principal female board is volunteer.

In 2009, CFOC gave OPERATION LOOKOUT 27K in grants and Kenya’s Orphans Home received 10K for facilities and overhead. In October of 2009 CFOC opened its thrift store which became a job training program work site for young unemployed parents facing poverty. The thrift store expanded CFOC’S benevolence program. The principal female board is volunteer. Melody Gibson who was given a set salary by the board of trustees to serve as the store's general manager of the thrift facility.

In 2010, CFOC gave OPERATION LOOKOUT 5K in grants and Kenya’s Orphanage received 1.4K, India’s Orphans received 1.4K. Because economic times have changed and Kenya’s Orphans home was closed down due to civil war that endangered the young director’s and children’s lives, reduced grants were given. CFOC on growth of the thrift store and its job training program. Melody Gibson made a 3K loan to CFOC for working capitol. Melody Gibson resigned from OPERATION LOOKOUT in May of 2010 to dedicate time as a volunteer treasurer to Caring For Our Children Foundation and OPERATION LOOKOUT.

2011 IRS 990 will be completed in November 2012. Melody Gibson is semi-retired and her wage reflects a decrease as a recipient of Social Security. Mike Gibson is semi-retired and continues as Head of Case Management as well as continues to volunteer as OPERATION LOOKOUT’S President since 1984. Both parties receive past due wages from OPERATION LOOKOUT.
THis writing comes form the desk of Melody Gibson, Treasurer for both organizations, thus responses are regarding both organizations which are not related, but separate with different community roles and missions.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

many fulfilling ways. Both organizations fulfill emotional and civil responses to great community need.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

work harder, spend even more time fundraising. No organization should suffer economically when its mission is lifesaving.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

How did you learn about this organization?

Mike and I founded OPERATION LOOKOUT in 1984 as a grass roots nonprofit to assit parents whose children were runaway and missing. Soon it became apparent that countless hundreds of parents were suffering on a national leave. Many volunteers came together to establish a computerized system and office to accommodate the need at a time when missing children organizations were few and far between. Gratefully, the government has established a strong and compelling child search department and many other nonprofits have stepped up to assist with this tragic issue of missing children. Caring For Our Children Foundation was founded for the sole purpose to raise funds to assist OPERATION LOOKOUT during lean times so that no missing child case registered at OPERATION LOOKOUT would go unserved.

What is this organization's top short-term priority?

Both organizations must become or remain fiscally responsible, lean and effective at their missions.

What is its top priority in the long run?

Mike and Melody are both semi-retired and it is time for the next generation to step in and make the organizations stronger and better at what they do. Both have vital missions and both deserve life a long time after its founders leave this planet. Both organizations have been considering whom will eventually take over leadership of the respective organizations. From a personal perspective, it is our opinion that so long as there is breath and energy, whether funding is strong or reduced, the Gibson's will remain the backbones holding things together-until then.

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1 previous review
Rating: 3 stars  

WHEN WHAT SEEMS ‘COSTLY’ IS ACTUALLY COST-EFFECTIVE…
Accounting rules require a nonprofit to clearly communicate when it allocates a portion of its budget to ‘programmatic’ efforts. OPERATION LOOKOUT® National Center for Missing Youth makes this distinction and has done so for many years. A duel ‘cost allocation’ is reported in the IRS 990 reports and annually audited Financial Statements (public documents), yet there are times when watchdog groups miss this valuable point and are responsible for passing forward 'part' of a picture. Out of respect for our donors’ sacrificial dollars and volunteer support, we feel compelled to clarify.

OPERATION LOOKOUT has outsourced a ‘public service outreach message’ integrated with ‘dialing for dollars’ to outbound promotional calling centers for many years. Yet when a watchdog group or the media question, dispute, or over-look this ‘coupling’, the charity and call center can be misunderstood and unwittingly maligned calling the cost to be ‘excessive’ or ‘ineffective’. These judgments take on a cyber-life of their own leaving the general public in a quandary about the ‘effectual’ use of their contribution.

In 2010 according to the IRS 990 report and the CPA, 53% of every dollar raised overall goes to public outreach, including where to turn for help and asking for financial support; on top of that another 44% goes to investigative missing children casework, so combined you can see this outreach benefits Missing Children more than has been perceived.

The implication that OPERATION LOOKOUT is unable to make solid cost-efficient business decisions on its behalf is a misleading notion. Refuting statements, wherever such statements appear these days, takes away time and dollars from their intended use—finding a missing, abducted or runaway child. But, some things simply must be addressed for the sake of the charity’s future survival and the recovery of the children--the primary focus.

A supporter is welcome to respond over the phone or go online. ‘Public Outreach’ and ‘Resource Development’, combined, have greatly expanded the chance to find a child and provide child-search support.

Whichever method is selected, because someone called and asked for tangible hands on help, countless caring citizens pinned up a poster with missing children images on it – increasing participation—always with an intention to find the kids.

Combining two tasks in one action is as frugal and noteworthy today for the organization as it was in 1984 when the charity was founded to provide assistance to desperate families —always free of charge. How to do it quickly and to the masses has been answered by outsourcing the duty to call centers. Other than blast email, we have not found a lower cost manner of outreach these past 27 years.

OPERATION LOOKOUT®, its retired founders-Mike and Melody Gibson of Washington State, its dedicated staff and volunteers will continue to provide ‘free’ child-search services for desperate searching parents in the USA (and other countries) as long as the public works together with us. Any action taken to find a missing child continues to be needed, and gratitude is expressed to the many Americans taking action in hopes of a deserved parent and child reunion.

To become a Direct Giving Partner whereby none of the donation goes to the cost of a middleman, contact 1-800-LOOKOUT (566-5688) or visit at http://www.operationlookout.org; click on the secure PayPal DONATE NOW button—’because every missing child deserves the chance to be found.’

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I have served this organization since 1984. The dedication of volunteers and staff are what makes it all happen. Since 1984, overall approximately 82% of the cases have been resolved, so you know it works when the nation works together on their behalf.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I would market the images of missing children to a much broader global audience and find a way to spend less doing so. I would influence the laws to change whereby call centers have a legal obligation to release donor lists at the end of every campaign whereby renewal of supporters would become a less expensive venture. WE must press forward regardless--This is about the kids and not our wishful thinking.

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Rating: 1 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

I think people need to be aware of this "non-profit" organization before committing any time or money. Earlier this year my daughter worked at Operation Lookout in Everett, Wa. She started as an intern and provided over 100 hours of free labor. Eventually she accepted a part time, close to minimum wage, position. She was amazed at the last of managment over a staff of 3-5 people. She was always frustrated with the lack of effort by a few and more so the lack of concern by the Directors. After payroll checks regularily bounce employees are told they have to wait for contributions to finally get their wages. She was disturbed to see $1000's spent on, in her observation, unnecessary lap tops and office equiptment to replace equiptment that was still funtional. She recently gave her two week notice and left for a new job. Days later her $139 payroll check was returned to her bank as dishonored. Phone calls to the Directors went no where. She was told by the treasurer that she would have to wait until funding came. I called and spoke with the treasurer to get an explanation. I got the same rhetoric. "It's not our fault" "the State of Washington Eployment Security and Labor and Industries won't do anything because they understand businesses are struggling" "we are a non-profit" is exactly what she told us. Unbelievable! My daughter is concerned about her final check, which has not been issued, and wonders if she will be shorted. Apparently this is a regular event. Why do employees have to wait weeks to get paid for hours worked. They are not volunteers. The employees have committed their time under the promise of being paid. I would never contribute any of my time or money to Operation Lookout.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

No

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

None

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 

As treasurer and cofounder of OPERATION LOOKOUT I personally took the call from this young lady's father, an irate man who was deeply troubled that her paycheck was delayed to insure it was paid. What he didn't know was that she was the only individual still on payroll due to a long term lay-off at the center. She was a delightful young lady with the capacity to perform her tasks assisting case managers. What she didn't know was that the funds spent on computers were 'designated' for that purpose alone. To spend designated funds for anything other than the computers and software upgrades would have been inappropriate use of the funds.

Review from CharityNavigator
Rating: 1 stars  

I am extremely concerned about this charity and an affiliate "Caring for our Children Foundation". I looked at both of their audits, Caring for our Children Foundation paid over $566,000 for telemarketers, which the Federal Trade Commission shows as a Defendant and Operation Lookout paid over $1,200,000 to telemarketers for fundraising. Charity Watch gives them both an F rating. Both are under Mike & Melody Gibson. Caring for our Children Foundation gave a $4800 grant to Operation Lookout, the only money they have as a "grant" and both are under water. The Federal Trade Commission says they "funnel" their money to their affiliates and give little or no money to charities. Why haven't these charities been investigated. Again, Mike Gibson President of Operation Lookout, total donations: $1,304,954, total Expenses: $1,341,541. Melody Gibson is Executive Director of Operation Lookout & Tresurer of Caring for our Children Foundation

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

No

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

None

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 

Caring For Our Children Foundation is not an affiliate of OPERATION LOOKOUT National Center For Missing Youth, but it is an outgrowth of its need for net funds to apply directly to child search. CFOC was founded in 2001 at a time when it seemed wise to raise more funds for missing children by giving grants from NET PROCEEDS benefitting more families. Over time, CFOC expanded to include other nonprofit grant recipients. There was a year when CFOC was able to give OPERATION LOOKOUT $50,000 free and clear, but things have changed with the global economic crisis. Operation Lookout was founded in 1984 and has discovered that the business model of raising funds over the phone is not only costly, but the net proceeds for case management is rather low. Call Centers have benefitted missing children with mass distribution of their pictures to increase exposure into geographies otherwise not possible. While the organization raises considerable money through the generosity of individuals giving $10.00, $20.00 and $50.00, those funds not only pay for the cost to raise funds and the call center's calling personnel, but it also pays for a programmatic element that Charity Navigator has not acknowledged to be the cost of 'program'. The IRS and the independent CPA providing the 990 and audit list these costs as program costs making the annual split of dollars donated overall to be closer to 60%/40%. An appeal to pin up a posters of missing children--an outreach effort to expose the faces of the children on a local level, is an extension of citizen compassion for suffering parents. It saddens us to hear how misunderstood this valuable service is, but it has been exciting to rise above the economic crisis and continue serving parents with missing children for the past 29 years.

Review from CharityNavigator
Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 1 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

The organization never even picks up their own hotline calls. They leave that up to their answering service to decide whether a call is important enough to even take a message. But they're in good company. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, with a $48 million annual budget, is only open 9-5 weekdays. It would seem that when one is operating an organization that deals with potentially life-threatening situations, that there would be a trained staff member to answer the phone 24/7. So, let me get this straight. The charity gets millions of dollars in contributions, and then hires a $10 a month answering services to run their hotline.

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Badly

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

None

Will you recommend this organization to others?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 

The generous 'Gift-In-kind' donation provided month by month for many years by Kelleys Answering Services is deeply appreciated and highly valued by OPERATION LOOKOUT. This service has been provided by the medical answering service division, 24/7 since the early 90's as their way of helping. When a client or citizen dials 1-800-LOOKOUT (566-5688), 1-800-782-SEEK (7335), or 425-771-SEEK (7335), the call is professionally answered, "OPERATION LOOKOUT, What is the nature of your emergency?" The response aids the operator to triage the call for patch-through to the on-call case manager, to put it through to the office back line dedicated for urgent situations, or to delay it for the next available person...It would bring this service great displeasure to learn they missed an important life-saving call. If you or anyone you know has been placed on a long HOLD or not responded to in a timely manner, please notify us at oladmin@operationlookout.org.

Rating: 3 stars  

Charity's Comments Regarding Solicitation Report.
Accounting rules require a nonprofit to clearly communicate when it allocates a portion of its budget to ‘program’ combined with fundraising efforts. OPERATION LOOKOUT National Center for Missing Youth makes this distinction and has done so for many years. A ‘joint cost allocation’ is reported in the IRS 990 reports, yet there are times others’ reports reflect part of a picture. This multi-tasking activity has been this non profit's business model since its founding. Along with countless of casework man-hours given to assisting parents with child-search, additionally, getting the faces of missing, abducted, and runaway children out to the public via printed matter, blast emailings, and mail has always been a critical piece to the puzzle. This action received by thousands of interest citizens and passed forward to others serves to seek, to find, and to recover missing children. The business model of this outreach being performed additionally by a call center when making citizen contact for sponsorship and volunteer support is a working model that saves OPERATION LOOKOUT man hour costs and precious time needed to work with desperate families.

To imply otherwise is to place blame and a huge burden of tasks and activities on case managers' shoulders that is otherwise best performed by the hired services and willing volunteers. THIS HAS BEEN A WIN-WIN for all of these years, yet in recent years, it is not comprehended and it is treated as a poor reflection on ethics and policies of the organization. Donor dollars are respected and deeply appreciated--without it broad scope picture distribution (hands on help for parents in geographies they cannot reach) would be limited to a smaller sphere of influence when a global view is required. Without the motivation of 'the call' financial support nearly vanishes and thus would the service that has been provided since 1984.

OPERATION LOOKOUT has outsourced its ‘public service’ messages with dialing for dollars since 1984. This ‘coupling’ means the charity cost effectively duel-tasks outreach to thousands of caring USA citizens Working Together When Every Minutes Matters. This expense is neither ‘excessive’ nor ‘ineffective’, and reports such as this misinterpretations and discredits a powerful tool of outreach – making ‘recoveries’ OPERATION LOOKOUT'S most important end result - - our measuring stick. For more information about the services OL provides--always free of any charge for families whose children are missing, visit www.operationlookout.org. SEE 990 page 10 under cost allocation and the related PIE CHART on the website, both provided per the independent bookkeeping service and the CPA firm providing the annual IRS 990 reports and audit.

Working together with our intensely dedicated casework staff, professionals and volunteer citizens means increased hope that a missing child will be found. In 2010, according to the IRS 990 report JOINT COST ALLOCATION PAGE 10 LINES 25 and 26, 57.3% of every dollar raised goes to promotional efforts: communicating where to turn for help; who needs help via a sampling of missing children pictures; asking for volunteer help; and requesting financial support. Moreover, 40.24% is dedicated solely to missing child case management and parental crisis intervention. Management and general remains at a low 4.63%.

As OPERATION LOOKOUT'S cofounders, Mike and Melody Gibson, now semi-retired after 28 years of commitment to this cause, are saddened by disparaging remarks and misinformation that gains a cyber-life of its own with little regard to the harm caused. Out-sourcing some of the community outreach work to a call center has broadened the scope in which the nonprofit organization can focus its attention on its registered families from the USA and other countries.

Any donor that prefers not to give over the phone is encouraged to give directly, thus their contribution goes into 'child search program' and none will go to the expense of an outbound call. Visit www.operationlookout.org. For an info packet or to make a comment or inquire about registering a missing child, or to report a sighting call 1-800-LOOKOUT (566-5688), 1-800-782-SEEK (7335), 425-771-SEEK (7335). Write to OPERATION LOOKOUT 6320 Evergreen Way Ste 201 Everett, WA. 98203.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

that I have enjoyed the fruits of the experienced case managers and seen the results of their work on behalf of parents whose children are missing. It has been a pleasure these many years to serve in this capacity.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Insure that every donor is aware of the value of their gifts whether given via call center response or as a direct giving partner. The call center activities increase public exposure of the missing children's faces; tells where to turn for help and how to give help. A direct gift will go straight into child search activities with no middle man costs involved. I would strengthen any activity that expands missing children images and attempt to assure donors their gifts serve missing children as they wish.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

What one change could this group make that would improve your volunteer experience?

OPERATION LOOKOUT could upgrade its computer equipment and software in 2012. It could expand its internship and job training program, thus allowing more young people the opportunity to learn the technical and emotional side of giving aid to desperate families.

Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)

I am now semi-retired and employed elsewhere due to downsizing. I have volunteered nearly 40 of my 62 years in either ministry or social services. It has been my pleasure to serve families that deal with the tragedy of having a missing, runaway or abducted child. During the years I was employed as OL'S Executive Director (until May 2010) it was an honor to be in that role.

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

This experience has always been fulfilling to me.

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 1 stars  

The organization uses telemarketers to raise most of its funds. According to their latest 990 IRS filing, only 12.5¢ of every dollar actually finds its way to the charity. The other 87.5¢ goes to the fundraiser. So, from the $1,312,055 raised in 2010, only $1,148,106 went to the charity. Of the 163,949 that went to them, $79.608 of it went towards salaries and payroll taxes, leaving $84,341. The problem is that none of the salaried staff members ever answer either their hotline or their office phone. That is left to an answering service to determine whether or not a call is important enough to leave a message. The simple posing of a missing child on their overly verbose website can take days and days. Meanwhile, on their website and to their potential donors they brag about how they are"an award winning, multifaceted, and fully computerized international child-search assistance center serving families with investigative casework for any geography of origin" and how they are a founding and charter member of AMECO (another "winner" in the missing children arena) and on and on and on. They state that they "provide are as described by Congress in Title IV - Missing Children - of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974, as amended or approved and recognized by Royal Canadian Mounted Police," and all that comes to my mind at this point is Dudley Doright, and I'm wondering, if Nell had called Dudley's answering service, would he have gotten there in time to rescue her from the train?

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Badly

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

None

Will you recommend this organization to others?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 

Hello Don. THURSDAY'S CHILD presents a good image to the public. You have proven you are interested in the welfare of runaways....OPERATION LOOKOUT shares your zeal to serve parents with missing children and invites to public to review facts based on current reports clearly and accurately interpreted by an independent CPA firm. OL wishes you well in your endeavors.

Rating: 1 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

I worked for this organization form early 1996 through late 1998 - (and was forced to volunteer for the "other" charity as part of my job description). THE ONLY PURSPOSE OF THIS CHARITY and the founder's other charity - CARING FOR OUR CHILDREN FOUNDATION, - is to support Michael and Melody Gibson ! This is achieved by extremely unethical, bordering on illegal, operation strategies for both charities. They get your attention by using logos that are very close to those of REAL charities such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the spy glass image used by St. Jude's Hospital, and the almost identical Children of the World. Although they claim an 82% success rate, this organization has absolutely no true claims of even aiding in the location of any missing child ! Their services include and intake questionaire and donated posters to send to the area of the missing child ! Period ! Give you money to a REAL charity, not this scam.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

No

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

None

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

1998

Was this review helpful? 

***The respective organizations are separate entities with different missions, different office venues, separate accounting and reporting procedures provided by 3rd party professionals to insure the public of disclosure transparency. The common thread between the organizations is the dedication of Ms. Gibson, co-founder of each (OL in 1984 and CFOC in 2001) Ms. Gibson's heart and expertise has benefitted at-risk children and their families for many years. CFOC provides net grant funding, data entry and administrative assistance to OPERATION LOOKOUT, allowing it to remain focused solely on child search and case management. As a side note, this disgruntled lady served OL for many years until a lay-off was looming close. OPERATION LOOKOUT is in compliance with the authorities and copyright rules and regulations. OPERATION LOOKOUT'S logo was designed in 1984 showing a child in a looking glass following a 4 day search for and recovery of young Jason Redfern in Woodinville, WA. Go to www.operationlookout.org to view the logo re-designed by the Gibson's daughter, Becky Lund of Phoenix, AZ. The prior logo was designed in 1984 by Melody Gibson, Cofounder. To view the logo of Caring For our Children Foundation go to www.caringforourchildrenfoundation.org designed by friend of Susan Baliwala, one of the foundation's founding board members. Melody Gibson was the salaried executive director for OPERATION LOOKOUT from 1984 -2010. Melody Gibson became a volunteer for Caring For Our Children Foundation from 2001 to 2009; she was hired by by CFOC in 2009 as the general manager of its thrift store. In 2012 the thrift store was closed; Mrs Gibson is currently semi-retired serving PT as CFOC'S salaried Executive Director and volunteer treasurer.

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