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Shriners Hospitals for Children
January 6, 2010

The mission and achievements of Shriners Hospitals for Children (SHC) are truly unique and extraordinary, but the management is archaic and inefficient. Here are ten facts that the Shriners do not want you to know (check them out for yourself): 1) There are no minorities or women on the SHC national governing board, and there are no plans to add any; 2) Shriners claim monopoly control of "their charity," but their fundraising activities raise on average about 5% of the operating budget each year; each Shriner is required to contribute only about $5 each year to SHC; 3) Shriners tout their low fundraising costs, but they have spent 2.5 to 6 times as much on board and senior management expenses in recent years; 4) A decade ago SHC leaders believed that their endowment was so large that they did not need to do any more fundraising, but in following years board-directed fundraisng was stagnant, with a decline of 4.1% between 2005 and 2007; from 2004-2009 revenue generation was headed by two individuals with no professional fundraising experience, and they were both demoted for poor fundraising results. 5)From 1999 to 2003 only 5% of the $46.2 million raised by the direct mail program Vantage VFS, which was chosen by the board, was received by SHC. 6. Both ALSAC-St. Jude and Mayo Clinic, which raised less than SHC in 2002, had doubled their funds raised by 2007, while SHC had a 9.2% decline. 7. While the largest universities and foundations had endowment increases from 5-16% during the Dot-Com Recession of 2001-02, SHC, with investment managers chosen by the board, lost several billion dollars. 8. Donors who wish to restrict their giving to one Shriners Hospital should know that their gift does not necessarily increase funds received by that hospital; all gifts are directed to SHC headquarters in Tampa, and all funding for individual hospitals is exclusively determined by the naitonal governing board, without regard to what each hospital might receive in designated gifts. 9. In 2009 the national governing board of SHC recommended closing six of 22 hospitals,although this was voted down at the national convention in July; this was proposed even though SHC holds an endowment of over $6 billion. 10. The The SHC governing board has refused to invest in and manage a modern foundraising operation consistent with competitors and industry best practices, and they have shown that they value direct control over productivity.

The Great!

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

the miracles happening every day in healing children across North America.

Ways to make it better...

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

reconstitute the national board to resemble other modern governing boards, and let expert, senior staff manage the organization while board members concentrated on polices and standard board responsibilities.

More feedback

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the kindness and dedication that I have observed in the hospital staff members and volunteers.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

impressive in their expertise, dedicated to healing children, and thankful to be able to provide outstanding care without charge to families.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

reform itself by following industry best practices (but leadership and vision are the issue, and not $$$, since SHC's endowment has reached $9 billion in the best times).

Ways to make it better...

I had seen the courageous leadership needed to communicate this remarkable mission to the American public and to fulfill the unparalleled potential of this organization-a glowing example to all Americans of what healthcare should be.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

related to the question: are the Shriners willing and able to reform the governance of their magnificent organization?

One thing I'd also say is that...

the mission is incomparable, but thoughtful donors deserve greater transparency and better governance.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

MY ROLE:
Professional with expertise in this field & Analyzed management and financials.