The financial figures for Friends of the Smokies for Fiscal Year 2008 do not reflect $916,924 raised in 2008 for three internally-managed endowments that will all benefit the Smokies’ 800+ miles of recreational trails. This data on internally managed endowments is not currently included in the Charity Navigator ranking system.
Visitors to Charity Navigator should keep this information in mind when looking at this data and determining the true level effectiveness of the organization and its total impact on park resources and visitors.
Additionally, the information below can help provide additional perspective on Friends’ most recent financial reports.
In 2010, the organization added more than $1.218 million to the internally managed Trails Forever endowment, but based on current accounting standards, those funds do not show up as an official park support expense, even though those funds are clearly restricted for improvements to park trails (as shown on page 13 of the 2010 audit).
At the park’s request, Friends of the Smokies also spent more than $782,000 in 2010 to buy a 20-acre inholding (as summarized on page 12 of the 2010 audit). That purchase will not show up as an official park support expense until the land is transferred to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a process that takes several months to finish, probably sometime in 2011.
The two above-mentioned efforts total more than $2 million in 2010, which paints a very different picture of how Friends really supports Great Smoky Mountains National Park.